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A Wedding (1978)

August 20, 2015

a wedding

Robert Altman brings his panoramic lens to a wedding joining two families. The bride is from old money and the groom is from new money. Neither family likes the other.

Both families have a lot of issues and we see them all. Family members come and go across the screen and even though there are about fifty, we come to know them all.

It’s not the myriad of characters that is confusing, it is the tone of the movie. The movie takes comedic, dramatic, and tragic turns and then turns again. The movie is unsettling and I think that is how Altman wants us to feel. Every family has is dramas, tragedies and comic situations. It is what makes us human. It is only the degree that is different.

The groom’s grandmother (Lillian Gish) dies, the bridgegroom has gotten his bride’s sister pregnant, the bride’s mother wants to have an affair, the groom’s mother is a drug addict … it just goes on and on.

Another really good, really different movie by Robert Altman.

Ready to Wear (1994)

October 27, 2012


Also known as Pret-a-Porter. this movie plays like a home movie focusing on the fashion industry. Even for an Altman movie this stands out as having little or no story.  Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Kim Bassinger, Stephen Rea, Julia Roberts, Forrest Whitaker, Tim Robbins, Lauren Bacall, Lyle Lovett, Tracey Ulman, Teri Garr, Danny Aiello and a host of others pop in and out of bed and are barely connected by the story of a fashion show that is going on in Paris.

Kim Bassinger plays a reporter who interviews people  as they arrive at the show. Celebrities march on and off the stage. Tim Robbins and Julia Roberts meet by accident, drink. fight, makeup and have an affair. A murderer is running loose but the fashion world must go no.

So many beautiful scenes with the beautiful people, I can see why Altman had trouble cutting it down to the size it needed to be. Should have run at least an hour shorter.

If you watch this movie trying to follow the plot, you will probably be disappointed. If you watch it and just enjoy the scenes flashing by you will probably enjoy this interesting and well done movie.




Images (1972)

October 27, 2012

A movie that was filmed in Ireland. Susannah York plays Cathryn, a woman who is having some psychological problems. She receives a phone call telling her that her husband is having an affair. She begins to see images, which may or may not be real. Her husband, Hugh, takes her out to their house in the country to help her recover.

While her husband hunts and works around the house, Cathryn writes her children’s books and continues to see visions. Visions of a creepy friend of her husband, and an old lover begin popping up all over the house. What is real, and what is imagined. Cathryn just doesn’t know.

As the movie goes on Cathryn’s grip on reality becomes less and less.

A psychological thriller that has aspects of ghost stories and horror movies. Beautifully filmed and very well done

Brewster McCloud (1970)

September 25, 2010

Made the same year as MASH, Brewster McCloud had many of the same actors and the same irreverent tone. Although I liked this movie, I didn’t love it the way I loved MASH and many of Altman’s other movies.
The movie is wacky and pretty dark at the same time. It is a parody of crime murder mysteries and a commentary on society. Perhaps it tries to be too much, and doesn’t do anything really well.
Brewster McCloud is a quiet, withdrawn boy who lives below the Houston Astrodome in a fallout shelter . Brewster is constructing wings because he wants to be a bird His only link with society is a mysterious woman named Louise who has a bird perched on her shoulder.
I think this is a movie they may get better with each viewing so I am going to give it another chance in a couple of months.

The Company (2007)

September 11, 2010

Like most of Altman’s work : short on plot and characterization, but a wonderful slice of life about a dance company set in Chicago. An ensemble work, the characters just come in and out. The main character is Ry, played by Neve Campbell, who also wrote the story. 
The movie follows the trials and tribulations of Ry as she tries to become the featured dancer in her troupe. Malcolm McDowell is really good as the excitable, emotional, know-it-all ballet master.
The movie has some wonderful ballet scenes, and if you like ballet you will love this movie. If you hate ballet you will probably be using the fast forward button a lot while watching this.
I thought it was very well done. It almost like I was watching a documentary on a subject I wasn’t that interested in, but somehow I still really enjoyed it.

Gosford Park (2001)

December 8, 2009

A murder/mystery/comedy on an English estate that has some of the upstairs/downstairs elements reminisent of La règle du jeu (1939). Also like in The Rules of the Game the gathering is brought about because a social shoot is going to take place. We see the pheasants falling as the rich shoot them down and the workers and dogs gather them up.
Everything in the house was in order with the downstairs inhabitants mirroring the upstairs ones, even using the same names of the ones they are serving to avoid confusion. The order is broken when Sir William is murdered. He is poisoned and then he stabbed, probably by someone who didn’t know he was dead already. Sir William was not a very likeable fellow.
The police are called in to investigate. It seems that half the people present in the house had a reason to kill Sir William. The characters come in and out, as they do in so many of Altman’s movies. The movie is beautifully filmed and the English countryside living in the 1930’s in beautifully portrayed.
It’s hard to follow the story without a score card. Former lovers, current lovers, illegitimate son, secrets, upstairs, downstairs and two murder tries. It’s a movie that needs to be seen more than once to be appreciated and understood.
This was a great movie but to be honest it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I think I’ll go watch La règle du jeu again, instead.

Dr T and the Women (2000)

November 29, 2009

Dr. T is a successful doctor. It looks like he is a lucky man, but his wife Kate is going crazy. A psychiatrist explains she suffers from the “Hestia complex,” an illness that affects ” upper-class women who have pretty much all they want or need.” Because their lives are perfect they try to regain “the mystery” by regressing to a child-like state.
In the movie Richard Gere is surrounded by actresses Helen Hunt, Farrah Fawcett, Laura Dern, Shelley Long, Tara Reid , Kate Hudson , Liv Tyler and Lee Grant. He often seems lost and confused. When he is with his men friends he seems confident and successful.
Dr. T gets very friendly with the new assistant golf pro, Bree (Helen Hunt). He goes to her house for a barbecue. When they go upstairs I really don’t know where Altman was going with the movie. Dr. T is something of a creep and so is Bree. As the movie goes on Dr. T is completely overwhelmed by the women.
But maybe that is what Altman is trying to say here. He has already taken the glamor out of war (MASH), the West (McCabe and Mrs. Miller), the music industry (Nashville), Hollywood (The Player) and our legends (Buffalo Bill and the Indians). Here he is taking the glamor out of the lives of the rich. They’re not happy either. We are all a sad, miserable mess.
In one of the last scenes, in a variation of The Graduate, Dr. T’s daughter runs off the wedding altar and into the arms of her lesbian lover. Dr. T goes to Bree’s and tells her he wants to run away with her but Bree doesn’t love him.
The movie probably should have ended with the altar scene. I have no idea what Altman is saying with the last scene, except that Dr T has had enough of women. Misogynistic? I think so. Once again Altman is telling us how miserable life is only in this movie he is blaming it on women. Not one of my favorite Robert Altman movies but he is always interesting.