This Sunday would have been the 85th birthday of Robert Altman.
Did any filmmaker embody the concept of the Hollywood auteur in the post-studio system era as well as Robert Altman? By the time he finally hit his stride as a maverick, independently minded director of irreverent comedies in the early 1970s, Altman was old enough to be the father of most of the members of the “film school generation” (Coppola, Lucas, Spielberg, et al.) with whom he enjoyed a friendly competition; but if any American director could be said to own the ’70s, I think it was the older, non-film school educated, Colonel Sanders look-alike whose movies, more so than those of his younger contemporaries, were the product of an idiosyncratic but fully formed artistic personality.
Altman cut his teeth working on genre television shows in the 1960s – he directed episodes of the western Bonanza and the war show Combat! among others, which is important to keep in mind when considering the perversely revisionist genre films Altman ultimately became best known for. (In the 1970s in particular it almost seemed as if he was checking genres off a list: “You think you know what a western is? Well, here’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller!”) Working in television had also been a good way for Altman to try out different techniques involving the employment of sound and image; for instance, it’s where he first began to experiment with the dense, multilayered soundtracks that would become one of his most important hallmarks as a movie director.
In the late 1960s Altman made the leap from television to motion pictures. After a couple of films that were not particularly noteworthy, he made a movie in 1970 that became a phenomenon and changed his life forever. M*A*S*H was a dark, ostensibly period comedy about the Korean war that functioned as a thinly veiled commentary on the then-raging war in Vietnam. It was an unexpected critical and commercial success, winning the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival before becoming enormously popular with American audiences, especially young people and members of the counterculture. And like a lot of works of art that seemingly come out of nowhere to capture the zeitgeist, the success of M*A*S*H bought Altman an unusual degree of creative freedom for the next several years. It was also the first film to feature all of the signature themes and stylistic traits for which he would become famous. These included:
– an irreverent, anti-authoritarian point of view
– a perverse, humorously revisionist take on genre
– a dense soundtrack with multilayered, overlapping dialogue
– a close collaboration with actors in which he encouraged them to deviate from the script and improvise their dialogue.
During his first wave of popularity in the early 1970s, Altman made the two films that I consider his very best: McCabe & Mrs. Miller in 1971 and The Long Goodbye in 1973. Both attempt to explicitly and self-consciously revise the rules of their given genres. McCabe & Mrs. Miller and The Long Goodbye are so extreme in terms of how Altman subverts the conventions of the western and the private eye film respectively (and puts his own unique spin on them in the process), that the movies, in spite of earning cult followings, remain divisive whenever they are screened to this day; in classes where I’ve shown both movies, I’ve observed it’s not uncommon for students to love one film but not be able to stand the other. (Another respect in which Altman is unique: even among his diehard fans there is little consensus over which films constitute his best and worst work.)
To understand how Altman subverts genre convention, look first to the cinematography. McCabe & Mrs. Miller is an amazingly photographed color film, courtesy of the great Hungarian cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. McCabe intentionally frustrates expectations of what the visual style of a western movie should be. In contrast to the high-key lighting and bright primary colors of the horse operas from Hollywood’s golden age, everything in McCabe looks drab, muddy and brown. This color scheme, combined with the film’s snowy locations and excellent Leonard Cohen soundtrack, gives it the feel of a melancholy tone poem. And the sound design can likewise be described as “muddy”; one of the film’s most contentious aspects is a notorious sound mix that, to the chagrin of many viewers, features an abundance of scenes where people mumble indistinctly to each other in taverns and whorehouses. But as any of the film’s supporters will tell you, the sheer audacity of this muddiness is part of its perverse charm.
McCabe can also be classified as a genre-subverting “anti-western” in that it presents two big movie stars, Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, in as unglamorous a light as possible. Beatty in particular was one of the biggest stars in the world at the time and Altman intentionally obscured his handsome features behind a bushy beard, gold tooth and omnipresent derby. The unromanticized look of frontier life extends to the supporting cast as well; Beatty’s title character is an entrepreneur who, at the film’s beginning, arrives in the small town of Presbyterian Church and tries to make his fortune by opening a low-rent brothel. Altman clearly takes great delight in presenting McCabe’s small town whores as earthy and plain, the polar opposite of the glamorous western prostitute typified by Claire Trevor in John Ford’s Stagecoach. While Altman’s portrayal is probably closer to the reality of prostitutes in 19th century America, it is also important to recognize that he never condescends to these characters. On the contrary, he seems to have great affection for all of them and takes pains to present them as real people, as evidenced by scenes where we witness them during downtime – singing, goofing off in a communal bath, baking a birthday cake, etc.
The aspect in which Altman most obviously turns western conventions on their head is in his presentation of the western hero. It is obvious to the viewer early on that John McCabe is a coward and a bullshit artist who hides behind a lot of big talk. There is a delicious irony in that the other characters in the film, the townspeople of Presbyterian Church, mistake him for a famous gunfighter who happens to have the same last name. Throughout the movie Altman milks this irony for all it is worth and uses it to set up an action climax that delivers a spectacular payoff – a snowbound shootout that sees McCabe attempting to become the man he has so far only pretended to be. The end result is something rich, complex and that rewards repeat viewings.
If charges of sacrilege have been leveled at The Long Goodbye more often than McCabe & Mrs. Miller, it’s probably less because of the way Altman undermines movie conventions in the later film than because of the way he dared to tweak aspects of its beloved source novel. Raymond Chandler published The Long Goodbye, his sixth novel featuring legendary gumshoe Philip Marlowe as protagonist, in 1953 when the film noir movement was still in full swing. Marlowe had been portrayed on screen no less than three times in the previous decade by high-profile actors like Humphrey Bogart, Robert Montgomery and, Chandler’s favorite, Dick Powell. It is somewhat surprising then that The Long Goodbye wasn’t brought to the screen until Altman’s unconventional adaptation twenty years later, long after the original noir cycle had ended. But that’s precisely Altman’s point: taking the chain-smoking, hard-drinking, hardboiled private eye of the late forties/early fifties and transporting him to the health conscious Los Angeles of the early ’70s. Finding humor in this outrageous juxtaposition is essential to appreciating Altman’s film.
Like McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye was shot by Vilmos Zsigmond. While it features a more conventional color palette than McCabe (fitting given the film’s contemporary southern California locations), it is no less visually striking. A technique first used in McCabe that Altman and Zsigmond perfect in The Long Goodbye is “post-flashing” – exposing the camera negative to a small amount of light before processing it. This gives the finished film a hazy, dreamy, slightly overexposed quality, which Altman likened to the look of faded postcards. It is as far from the stark, black and white cinematography of film noir as Elliot Gould’s nebbishy portrayal of Marlowe is from that of his tough guy predecessors.
And yet both of these aspects are of a piece with Altman’s overall vision. The Los Angeles he portrays is one of pastel colors, where women eat hash brownies while practicing yoga, mobsters travel in curiously multiethnic packs and the local supermarket has too much of everything – except for the one brand of cat food that Philip Marlowe desperately needs. The tone of the film, both elegiac and ridiculous, is set by the opening scene in which Marlowe attempts to trick his cat into eating a new, unfamiliar brand of cat food. This absurd but crucial scene establishes the theme of betrayal vs. loyalty that will predominate for the rest of the film. It is only when Marlowe informs his friend Terry Lennox “I even lost my cat” during the film’s unexpectedly shocking climax (and thus brings the story full circle) that we are likely to realize how deadly serious Altman has taken his morality tale all along.
After The Long Goodbye, Robert Altman would go on to make many other movies. There would be triumphs as well as fallow periods but, like the song says, he always did it his way. When he fell out of favor in Hollywood, which happened more than once, he would simply scale back his ambitions. The most dramatic example of this would be the entire decade of the 1980s, which were devoted to small projects like filmed plays and T.V. movies following the box office disappointment of the underrated Popeye. But Altman was a dreamer and a schemer, always waiting for the opportunity to realize his next mad folly. Thankfully, his story ends on a note of redemption as the success of The Player in 1992, much like that of M*A*S*H in 1970, allowed him to realize many more personal projects until his death in 2006 – including such late career highlights as Short Cuts, Kansas City, Gosford Park and A Prairie Home Companion. The American cinema won’t see his like again.
February 18th, 2011 at 11:19 am
THE LONG GOODBYE is my favorite Altman film, hands down. NASHVILLE, MASH, and MCCABE & MRS. MILLER get most of the glory, but I love the anti-noir aspect of LONG GOODBYE, plus Elliot Gould’s performance. My favorite “joke” in the film is the use of music, where the theme song “The Long Goodbye” is the only music throughout the entire film. And, you hear it in a variety of styles, depending on where Marlowe is. From pop stylings on the radio to the mariachi music at the end, all the music is the same song. Very funny.
February 18th, 2011 at 1:24 pm
I’m glad you commented on the hilarious use of the theme song in The Long Goodbye. My favorite versions are the muzak one that plays in the grocery store and the doorbell chime!
February 18th, 2011 at 4:41 pm
Nice overview of Altman, Michael! McCabe and Long Goodbye have been among my very favorites for many years as well. Of course M*A*S*H & Nashville gets mentioned a lot (and deservedly so), but I’d also like to point out two more films of his from the glorious 70’s that don’t seem to get discussed as much. “Thieves Like Us” and “3 Women” are pretty great. Especially the latter which really was his most experimental, or was it the great Brewster McCloud? Ah, so many amazing films from our favorite 70’s auteur.
February 18th, 2011 at 5:06 pm
Jim, it’s funny you mention Thieves Like Us and 3 Women because those are probably my next favorites after McCabe and The Long Goodbye! I like Nashville a lot too of course, although for me there’s something almost too show-offy about its virtuosity that makes me like it less than the others. Of his later films, I really love The Player.
May 1st, 2016 at 8:04 pm
As a amateur to the film world,I didn’t know much about Robert Altman. After reading your essay Mr. Smith I became a fan. I like the fact he didn’t give up on being a director, stating ” By the time he finally hit his stride as a maverick, Altman was old enough to be the father of most of the members of the ” Film school generation” that shows passion and dedication. His passion and ambition is similar to mines. He seemed to be someone who believed in himself, and did things his way. Even when things got tough for him in the 1980’s when the attention was toward plays and T.V movies. I think his characteristics is an example of the adage to don’t keep up with jones. His style seem to be original in all his films. For example, in “The Long Goodbye” rumor is Altman exposed the camera negative to a small amount of lights before processing it, bringing a more realistic feeling to a movie. Much respect to Mr. Altman who may have motivated other directors to be original and continue to do what you believe is best to enhance your directing. May his soul rest in peace!
May 2nd, 2016 at 7:23 pm
I respect the fact that Altman always did things his way and wasn’t going to conform to the traditions and conventions of the popular movies of the current era. It’s interesting how he fell in and out of the favor or the critics as it seems as if currently once a director makes one hit they grab the attention of the American audience for years. In my opinion his actions were nobel and righteous. I really enjoyed “The Long Goodbye” as it seemed he took the conventions of Film Noir to the next level. Marlowe was always smoking and it seemed to be even more so than in other film noir films we watched in class. I mean, he even lit his matches off of the walls! McCabe and Mrs. Miller was stunningly beautiful. It was mentioned in class how “brown” the movie was and to be honest I felt the exact opposite. The tones and shots aligned perfectly with what I would picture a traditional western film. I am as well a novice in cinema, but greatly appreciated Altman’s work!
May 2nd, 2016 at 9:30 pm
This review gave me a really nice way of drawing comparison between “The Long Goodbye” and “McCabe and Mrs. Miller”. The two works are very different but in your review “i get it”—both films are totalizing perversions of their genre canons. I feel that Marlowe is an undeniably rich character. I am not as interested in Marlowe but more his film noire personage in a blatantly 70s Angeleno film. I really enjoy how you brought light onto the personified landscape of Los Angeles in the film — health culture excess, yoga, edibles, and yes, more yoga. I don’t doubt that the contemporary rendering of this film would include the byline “gluten free” after hash brownie. I feel like in addition to Marlowe’s character context his dress feels really important. In exception to once removing his jacket for a group of noted “curiously multiethnic pack”, Marlowe remains in a suit and tie throughout the entire film. His tailored dress and chain smoking habits establish a typically noir aesthetic for his character. And last but not least, I think that “omnipresent derby” is my favorite terminology of this review. : – )
May 3rd, 2016 at 5:24 pm
I surprisingly loved both of these for some reason I expected to find McCabe & Mrs. Miller boring because growing up forced to watch western movies with my grandfather I grew to dislike them which is exactly why I loved it. I loved the use of colors in the film made it seem like this could happen anywhere and the look of the prositutes made the film seem more normal like you watching this happen instead of a film. I think he did well in making both McCabe & Mrs.Miller and The Long Goodbye seem normal by making seem like certain characters were continuing being these characters even when they were off the camera and the use of music in both the films. In The Long Goodbye we hear the same song throughout the film but different versions which add comedy and show how detailed he was. I enjoyed both films and would definitely watch them again.
May 3rd, 2016 at 11:29 pm
I really enjoyed the fact that Altman “undermines the movie and genre conventions”. These tweaks, I believe enhanced the realism of both film. In contrast to the typical Western genre films directed in both previous and present film periods, Altman’s portrayal brought a genuine taste and mood to the world of directing. McCabe and Mrs. Miller was such a unique film in regards to the aspect of color, music soundtrack, and character development that with out a doubt, I was able to distinguish The Long Goodbye as one of Altman’s productions. In addition to his unique style of directing, Altman’s complex and meaningful plots where what really got to me. As you, Mr. Smith, acknowledged the metaphor of Marlowe tricking his cat in the beginning of the film The Long Goodbye to that of the rest of the film’s plot, I too was astounded by interesting connection to both the scene and the plot. I really am hoping to see more Altman films,soon, to explore more of his distinctive talent of the Film School Generation. I seriously think that Altman is the father of this magnificent film period.
May 4th, 2016 at 1:13 am
This was a great review of both films. Altman really did a great job of “poking fun” of cinemas most classic and iconic types of genre, which i found absolutely hysterical. In “The Long Goodbye” the way Marlowe would continuously light a cigarette throughout the entire movie went from being cool and dramatic to comical especially when he would put one out and almost immediately light another. Also in “The Long Goodbye” the way Marlowe was teaching the henchman how to do his job properly was a great scene and a crack on the whole “don’t let this guy out of your sight” idea. As you mentioned in your article i did really enjoy one movie over the other. That may be because i’m not a big western genre fan even though this wasn’t a conventional one. I found McCabe & Mrs. Miller a bit slow and boring at times in which my attention would drift. Where as “The long goodbye” had me intrigue from the interesting opening scene with the cat to the last plot twist in end. Both very interesting movies to watch and review.
May 4th, 2016 at 8:58 am
As a newbie to the Cinema world, I never entirely appreciated films and their directors. Whenever I watched a movie, I always focused on the actors and their choice of movements. It wasn’t until recently, when I joined the History of Cinema class, to fully understand what it takes to make a film great. This passage really opened my eyes and woke me up from my illogical thinking about most of the films I had seen. Both films, McCabe & Mrs. Miler and The long Goodbye, were examples on how the director is truly the artist behind the masterpiece. Very well done!
May 4th, 2016 at 10:37 am
This was a great explanation as to why Altman was such a prominent figure in cinema. Altman’s unconventional techniques such as placing a film noir character in 1970s Los Angeles or ascribing his western protagonist with untypical idiosyncrasies were genius. Both movies were excellent all around!
May 4th, 2016 at 10:58 am
Altaman’s techniques truly set him apart and helped create a name for him. I really appreciate the fact that, like you said, not everyone can agree on which of his films they liked. I think it’s very telling of how much of a genius he was. He had recognizable techniques but that didn’t mean that his movies were at all similar in how they were filmed and told. That being said I especially loved his use of repetition when it came to his music or character phrases.
May 4th, 2016 at 12:09 pm
What I noticed most this time around as I watched these two Altman classics was his treatment of women. Of course, all actors were given great freedom with Altman, but he’s especially known for providing actresses with roles that go against type. You won’t see too many of the woman in his film depicted as reliant on men, nor will you see them as victims of sexual assault. There are just as confused and flawed, stubborn and resilient as the men in his films. In fact, often times the lives of the woman are much more content. As much as he has subverted the genre expectations of a western or a detective noir story, like in “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” and “The Long Goodbye”, respectively, he also subverts the expectations of female characters (much like his contemporary, Clint Eastwood and unlike another contemporary Sam Peckinpah) in his movies. The first time I noticed this was while watching 1993’s “Short Cuts” (my gateway and favorite Altman film), but then as I caught up on his filmography, it became clear that many of the woman in his films (just look at “Dr. T & The Women – heh heh) had similar characterizations as the men, but they’re actually often better off, more content with where and who they are in life. In both “McCabe” and in “Long Goodbye” there is a community of female friends that live together without men – whether they are half-baked, brownie-craving naked yoga girls or a brothel full of carefree birthday-cake making prostitutes – and there’s also two lead characters, one played by the luminous Julie Christie as the titular madame, Mrs. Miller and the other being Nina van Pallandt’s Eileen Wade – both of whom portray a nice update on the typical whores and femme fatales women have played in the past. These are strong and independent women, who honestly would do just fine without the men in their lives. Altman knew that in life, both men and women would experience the highs and lows of life, be put through the ringer and convey the strengths and weaknesses we all have – and that’s exactly what he wanted to display on the screen.
May 4th, 2016 at 1:51 pm
One of the biggest things to be noted about Altman’s career is, without a doubt, his passion. Sure, he made great movies like “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” and “The Long Goodbye,” and left an undisputed remarkable body of work, but it is how he made his movies. And in which the manner his body of work was conducted that is why his legacy is so big. I believe that any form or art, and I mean truly good art, comes from a passion that consumes the soul. I feel like there are many examples in our society today that limit ones creativity. From a scripted phone call in a corporate office, to some schools requiring students to wear uniforms, all the way to directors trying to shape their actors too much. The extent to which Atlman allowed his actors/actresses to be free and use their own creativity, in my opinion, allowed his passion to be brought out even further through them as they came to life on screen. Also his spin on genre is something all artists could learn from as well. His ability to to twist a genre or lay down a new platform for a different perspective I hope is appreciated by many. It’s as if he was saying “there’s no right way to shoot a certain type of film,” or “there’s no right mold for a Western/Neo Nior/ etc.”
To a great artist and man of passion; I hope you’re resting in peace- you are remembered and admired by many.
May 4th, 2016 at 1:53 pm
I never heard of Robert Altman until we watched these two movies and I have to say that I am fan. I liked how he let the actors create how they portray their character roles. This helped both movies seem more realistic in my opinion with actors who seem to fit their characters well. I also appreciate how Altman put his own twist on the genres. I don’t really like western films but “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” wasn’t your typical western. Instead of your typical western film taking place in the desert it took place in a mining town that was dark and wet. It didn’t have the old western gun battle at the end with two men going at it face to face, instead it was more like a modern day battle. I do have to say that I favor “The long Goodbye” more than “McCabe and Mrs. Miller.” It caught my attention more and made me laugh. It was genius how Altman made Marlowe’s character seem like he came out a a 1950’s movie. He stood out by the way he dressed because all the characters in the movie were dressed more flashy and dressed according to weather unlike Marlowe who always wore a suit. I also loved his serious sense of humor if that makes sense. Overall I am now a big fan of Robert Altman and I’m glad he was able to bounce back after his fall in the movie industry.
May 4th, 2016 at 3:28 pm
I recently viewed McCabe & Mrs. Miller in a more private audience (my couch in my apartment with my dog) and honestly, due to the opinions that had been pre-voiced about the film I honestly wasn’t looking forward to it. I saw he film a day before watching The Long Goodbye, and I am so very happy that I viewed them in the order I did. I can appreciate the color palette and the overall use of the actors with their own personal quirks in McCabe & Mrs. Miller. I didn’t quite agree with the plot and thought the film was a bit eccentric. I was taken back by a snow-esq western- and growing up with Grandma watching westerns it was ideal. Though this has absolutely nothing to do with Altmans technique! It was very skillful in picking which actor to do which role and I definitely appreciated that his actors were in my opinion true to character. However, The Long Goodbye was a fantastic movie!! If I had to choose between the two, I fm definitely believe The Long Goodbye was more of my speed. The entire theme of the movie captured me from him putting the wrong brand of cat food in another can hoping his cat wouldn’t notice the difference- to him (SPOILER) killing his best friend- I was completely submitted into the craft and style that Altman created for this movie. It actually gave me a hint of Inherent Vice (I know understand Paul Thomas Anderson). Anyway! Altman in my opinion perfected his crafts in a raging of styles which I can appreciate and admire.
May 4th, 2016 at 3:47 pm
I really enjoyed Altmans subtlety in re-envisioning these genres. The characters and acting direction that Altman fostered in his cast gave these films their true core. The characters were not simple cookie cutter archetypes but rather challenged the standard norms of their roles in each genre. McCabe in McCabe and Mrs. Miller which re envisions the western genre is a great example of this anti hero persona that is much more realistic. In a typical Western the hero is brave and stern, fearing nothing but in McCabe’s case he’s a con-man scared and living on a lie yet we still root for him. Similarly in The Long Goodbye Philip Marlowe’s character serves a great way to juxtapose the private eye archetype of the 50’s with the 1970’s setting of the film. This contrast creates for hilarious moments in the film like the scene in the jail when Marlow is being interrogated. These sorts of subtleties are what I found to be greatest in Altman’s style both in entertainment and in commentary about film making.
May 4th, 2016 at 4:05 pm
After viewing both Robert Altman’s McCabe&Mrs. Miller and The Long Goodbye and also reading Smith’s article I have come to a conclusion where I am going to go out on a whim here and assume that Robert Altman was a fan of being an unconventional generalist. He wanted to direct a film that was attempting to follow a certain style and instead completely end up being what it’s foundation was meant to be. Whether that would be a man with a mission or a woman with a mission. Regardless of what kind of mission, with both of these films I had noticed a theme of survival, trying to get by and do what needs to be done in order to live onto the next day semi-comfortably. I cannot say that I was fond of both movies, they were intelligently and hilariously well made and I admired Altman for that. By not being a fan of any kind of film noir or various sorts of western, as far as the stories go for these films I could honestly care less for. Yes I do recognize and admire the roles these characters have played; from one end of the spectrum: independent men and women trying to survive contently and at the other end the weird background accessories such as the lesbian yoga stoners and the drunk creepos that want to get laid at this super nice brothel. I understood Altman’s voice within these films, I just was not that captivated by them.
May 4th, 2016 at 4:09 pm
When I first saw McCabe and Mrs. Miller I was confused and just thought it was a dull western. Now after finding out that Altman directed Popeye it all seemed to make sense because it felt a lot like I was watching Popeye by how it was shot and the way the setting around was used. Then I came to the conclusion that McCabe and Mrs. Miller was a beautifully shot movie because of how the setting and scenery was used to capture the spirit of the Pacific Northwest even though it was shot in Canada. My only major problem with the movie was the ending and how no one could even after the church was saved and the fire was stopped how could no one not see McCabe’s body it just baffled me and upset me because I am a sap for happy endings. The Long Goodbye just became my new favorite movie I just love the use of the characters and their personalities it all clicked and worked perfectly. The back and forth one upping each other in being a smart ass with Marty and Phillip was amazing. You could see the tension and how conflicting it was for the men to one up another I like movies from the 70s because it just seemed like a great decade to live in which contributes to my new found love for The Long Goodbye. Overall both of Altman’s movies had a unique style to it, but if I had to pick one to watch again its without a doubt The Long Goodbye.
May 4th, 2016 at 4:14 pm
Altman was a genius. He always do whatever he wants. I have never seen any of his movies before, but after we watched “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” in class I was very surprised about the beauty, the complexity of that movie. And after we watched “The long goodbye ” you can easily tell that the genius behind come from the same mind. Every genre movie’s conventional parameters are completely ignored in Altman movies. Take “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” for example: first it looked like a western drama. But he called it anti-western because the place, the weather and other criterions we always see in western movies are very different. So Altman do whatever he wants to do, he doesn’t feel like he has to do a traditional movie where you can kind of guess how the ending is going to be. In “The long goodbye”, you as a viewer can never predict the fact that a private investigator can shoot his friend who killed his wife and take off to Mexico with a mobster’s money. It just blows my mind when he pull the trigger on his friend who was unarmed. When you see him walking away, you can tell that he really doesn’t care about killing his friend. But that was the genius behind Altman creations. His works clearly shows how smart he was, because a lot of movie critics agree that those two movies are among the best movies of all time.
May 4th, 2016 at 4:47 pm
I’ve become more of a fan with film bouts and seeing the Long Goodbye really becomes close to becoming my favorite, alongside Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. Anderson has also become a huge favorite of mine and after finding out that he worked with Altman on his last film, it doesn’t really surprise me because both Altman and Anderson have a similar style. With every movie these both create, they have their style of a single genre with beautiful cinematography that makes the film visually pleasing. Although most of these films that I’ve personally watch have sorta a slow story that takes time to understand and follow up, these films also have characters that instantly grabs the audience attention and gives the film a chance. Another thing that these directors do with a film that covers a specific genre, is that these films aren’t your average and simple genre films. Theres something more to them that differentiates from the rest.
May 4th, 2016 at 4:49 pm
I’ve meant to say in my first sentence that I really enjoy film noirs, but I can’t edit. So yeah.
May 4th, 2016 at 5:10 pm
The Long Goodbye really felt like Altman’s response to what people thought Film Noir was. That is the same feeling McCabe and Mrs Miller gave me. I really felt the look and ideas he had on different genres. He really gives you a set of new lenses with his movies. He puts you in the world of a genre you think you know all about, until you watch his movies and you realize the plot can go another way. You can make these movies fit into other genre as well, still keeping in mind the genre it really belongs too. His actors always seem so connected to who they are portraying, which is Altman one of the things I love about Altman’s films. The genuineness of it all. He will always be one of the innovators of change in film and creativity.
May 4th, 2016 at 5:29 pm
Although many people hated his “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” film I didnt but I can’t say I loved it either. I did love the music throughout the film and the way it reflected off of the characters. It is a color film but brown dominates the scene and then it turns all white because of the snow. I do like the transition but I couldn’t stand the browness. Then I have nothing but love for “The Long Goodbye”. I love the characters, the plot, the twists, the colors and especially the song. Eveb though it’s the same song, each time it is played, it’s different. So all in all, I’m grateful that Altman would go against norms and did his own thing because the results are amazing.