Tuesday, November 21, 2006

TO ME, I'VE JUST MADE ONE, LONG FILM: Legendary director Robert Altman has passed away, at the age of 81.

I had the honor of meeting Altman a few years ago at an event in New York, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to just say thank you for his films. Nashville is just a masterwork, one of my favorite films ever, with M*A*S*H, Short Cuts and The Player not far behind. Back when his honorary Oscar was announced in January, I wrote:
Altman's work combines two seemingingly disparate traits -- a deeply naturalistic, unforced shooting style which allowed for overlapping dialogue and action occurring all over the frame, but with exceptional control over the narrative itself, allowing films like Nashville and Short Cuts to have 20+ characters of equal significance, all colliding over each other's lives.

If he had only made those two films, dayenu. But M*A*S*H? The Player? Gosford Park? "Tanner '88"? A worthy honor.

From that acceptance speech:
I've always said that making a film is like making a sand castle at the beach. You invite your friends and you get them down there, and you say you build this beautiful structure, several of you. Then you sit back and watch the tide come in. Have a drink, watch the tide come in, and the ocean just takes it away. And that sand castle remains in your mind. Now I've built about 40 of them, and I never tire of it. No other filmmaker has gotten a better shake than I have. I'm very fortunate in my career. I've never had to direct a film I didn't choose or develop. I love filmmaking. It has given me an entree to the world, and the human condition and for that I'm forever grateful.

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