Robert Altman Collection - My Favorite Altman

Alliance Atlantis
Category: drama
Available: On DVD
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I first discovered Robert Altman with The Player. I fell in love with the opening shot that lasted forever and the ironic humour that laced the film. I also loved the way he managed his sprawling cast. I would learn later that this was his staple and although many would attempt to emulate this, few would succeed.

I immediately gravitated to his previous work, films I had been too young to enjoy when they were made. Of course there were the famous ones like Nashville (brilliant) and M*A*S*H (overrated). But there were also the less known like Vincent and Theo and 3 Women. I began to see that I had already experienced his work including his segment in Aria and a film I had seen as a child, the infamous Popeye. Both there films had influenced my view of films, the first for the positive and the second for the negative.

Then I began to see whatever he produced next. Fortunately, he followed The Player with the amazing Short Cuts. I thought he could do no wrong. Anyone could see this was a film maker with extraordinary vision. His films managed to be insightful and entertaining while handling a large range of ideas, characters and spaces. While the films Pret-a-Porter and Kansas City didn’t work for me as a whole, they each offered me something fascinating.

However, then came The Gingerbread Man, Cookie’s Fortune and the horrible Dr. T and the Women. Just like once brilliant film makers before (yes, I am speaking about you, Woody Allen) Altman was fallible. Fortunately, he was able to come back to the top of his game with the smart and fun Gosford Park.

Regardless of the film, Altman did something wonderful on the screen. He found a way to tell stories through overlapping characters and ideas and this method proved very satisfying. There were such layers to his work that, as a film buff, offered me something richer than the average film, something I could respond to. Whether I hated or loved the film, or as most often was the case, loved and hated it, there was so much there for me. I always enjoyed seeing a new Altman film and my loss is the loss of many cinemaphiles.

I will never know the man but I will always know the films and I will always feel blessed to have experienced them.

Review By: Collin Smith

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