Robert Altman RIP

Robert Altman is no more. The famous director of Nashville, Gosford Park, MASH, Dr. T and the Women (and so many more movies) has died. He never got his Oscar – sure there was that lifetime achievement handout earlier this year, but for all the outstanding work he’s done, none has earned him that ultimate honor. Of course, Altman was the kind of guy who cared little for awards and ceremonies. He frequently said that hie biggest achievement was being able to work on movies (and with people) he picked. No assigned contractual obligations, no back-room deals. He saw a story, he asked for it, and he worked on it. In today’s climate, that’s not an easy task. For a guy who’s been in business since the 50s – that’s true honor.

Robert Altman loved his characters – let them improvise, let the cameras roll during the outtakes, let the cast veer off course. He welcomed all kinds of opinions and deviations from the plot, and still, the final product was focused, restrained movie. A lot of dialogue – as many will remember from famous performances by Maggie Smith, Julianne Moore, Elliott Gould, Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep – but a simple, focused story. It takes a lot of discipline to let your cast go off the route and still distill all the footage into a solid picture. And there were many – most recently A Prairie Home Companion. We’re going to dig up a few more reviews for your reading pleasure, for now, let’s remember the man fondly.

Robert Altman – always delivering a full, energetic cast, with many intertwining stories, involved in a simple, compelling plot. His movies are alive with raw energy, I hope that legacy stays around for a long time.

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