This month, we present six movies directed by celebrated filmmaker Robert Altman (1925-2006) He’s revered as an accomplished artist who made his films outside the Hollywood studio system. When he directed M*A*S*H for 20th Century Fox, he later said “M*A*S*H* “wasn’t released, it escaped!” Many of his films were made against the traditional interests of Hollywood. His searing satire of studio politics and the nastiness of Hollywood, The Player, remains even more pertinent today.
His trademarks as a director include “eavesdopping” shots of characters, biting and uncompromising dark humour, strong period detail (as seen in films like his Depression era bank robbers film Thieves Like Us) and overlapping dialogue. He was even known to take classic Hollywood genres, like the film noir, and twist them into his sensibility as you can see in The Long Goodbye.
If you haven’t seen any of Altman’s films, you’ll be off to a good start this month with several different titles from his filmography: his satiric take on disheartening army life in M*A*S*H, his version of a Raymond Chandler mystery transplanted in 1970s LA in The Long Goodbye, his look at various country musicians in Nashville, the classic cartoon characters of Popeye brought to live action, his no holds barred rip on modern Hollywood in The Player and mixed short stories of desperate living in California in Short Cuts, which Paul Thomas Anderson drew heavily from for his film Magnolia.
Altman’s career overlapped five decades and included lots of television and theatre work. The six films of his playing at the Mayfair this July, will give you a perfect sense of what made him a distinctive and challenging filmmaker.
ALT.CINEMA FILM FESTIVAL
M*A*S*H (1970) – July 5
Popeye (1980) – July 13
Nashville (1975) – July 13
The Long Goodbye (1973) – July 19
The Player (1992) – July 27
Short Cuts (1993) – July 27