A fictionalized former President Richard M. Nixon offers a solitary, stream-of-consciousness reflection on his life and political career - and the "true" reasons for the Watergate scandal and his resignation.
The life of Robert Altman over the course of his career as a filmmaker is told in roughly chronological order. It is presented largely through archival footage, including of his interviews and of his and his longtime wife Kathryn Reed's home movies. It includes his rocky start in Hollywood as an aspiring screenwriter, which instead led to him working as a general filmmaker for an industrial film company. This work led to directing assignments for a number of television series back in Hollywood, where he butted heads with a number of studio executives and producers who did not appreciate his style of filmmaking in his desire to insert a sense a realism in whatever the project, that realism which includes hanging story-lines and overlapping dialogue, often in multiple equally important conversations in a single setting which forces the viewer to decide which conversation he/she wants to focus. This situation often led to him trying to achieve what he wanted either in not telling or ...Written by
Altman's life merits a 10-hour documentary. This is only 1½ hours, but we are treated to a decent selection of Altman trivia.
Gosford Park, M.A.S.H., Nashville, Short Cuts, The Player. Just wow.
The downside of cutting it down to a feature length documentary is that you are forced to skim through many great films. First of all, he made so many movies it's hard to keep track of them. Second of all, his movies are so dense that they require multiple viewings, and more than two minutes of exposition, to fully appreciate.
Nonetheless, I think the film is well-made and never boring.
Family videos and photos, and on-location footage, provide access to a rarely-seen Altman, such as Altman-the-father.
But don't expect great revelations. There is nothing truly shocking here, no skeletons in the closet. Altman is painted as a suspiciously lovable, but subversive, Santa Claus figure. Perhaps that's just the way he was.
But one would have liked a few rough edges to be explored a bit more - like his family troubles, financial worries and personal addictions to gambling and booze. The movies gets too close to hagiography at times. But if one is to pick Saints for canonization, you could do much worse than go with Robert Altman!
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