Robert Altman's jazz-scored film explores themes of love, crime, race, and politics in 1930s Kansas City. When Blondie O'Hara's husband, a petty thief, is captured by Seldom Seen and held ... See full summary »
Jennifer Jason Leigh,
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.
Dr. Sullivan Travis "Dr. T." is a wealthy Dallas gynecologist for some of the wealthiest women in Texas who finds his idealist life beginning to fall apart starting when his wife, Kate, ... See full summary »
"A Prairie Home Companion", hosted by humorist Garrison Keillor, is a down home radio variety show recorded and performed live in front of an audience in a theater in St. Paul, Minnesota. A show from another era, "A Prairie Home Companion" has been canceled. The regulars are performing on the last show, including Dusty & Lefty, singing/guitar playing cowboys with a risqué sense of humor, and the Johnson Girls, a sister singing duo of Rhonda and Yolanda who have a penchant for talking over each other. As the show goes on, the regulars, backstage, talk about their lives in relation to the show. Other goings-on include Yolanda and others trying to convince her shy somber daughter, Lola, to sing on this last show. As all this goes on, a mysterious woman in a white trench coat who is on a mission wanders around the theater, while the show's dim security guard, Guy Noir, who usually has nothing to do security-wise, follows. Written by
Altman reputedly directed most of the film from a wheelchair. See more »
While Guy Noir sits at his desk, there is an "On Air" sign common to radio and TV stations. It is switched on, that is to say, the light bulb in the "On Air" sign is switched on. In a later scene the radio show is still on the air, but the sign is switched off. Technically, it should still be on, whenever a microphone is open in the studio. See more »
Market reports today, barrows and gilts uh two hundred twenty to two hundred sixty pounds, they're lower at forty dollars uh sows are steady three hundred five hundred pounds thirty four to thirty seven dollars going over to feeder cattle, beef steers - one hundred twenty to one hundred fifty dollars and two hundred to three hundred
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There is a credit for Sign Painter in the film, although it does not appear on the official site. See more »
In truth, I'm not one to worship Robert Altman. His filmsbarring the raritieshave been, for me, mostly inconsequential. They're wispy and lighthearted and mostly nonchalant. They work, but on a momentary basis; acting like a bubble that bursts the second the lights go up. Most of the same can be said about A Prairie Home Companion. Only, this time is simply works better.
Garrison Keillor who penned the "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show also works the fingers behind the typewriter for its film adaptation. His script has a kind of "concentrated structure" to it; it's duration running throughout "A Prairie Home Companion's" final live broadcasted show. He balances onstage performance between backstage interactions, the camera smoothly swirling amongst the audience, the stage, and the inner workings of the theatre.
If Altman flashed the negative to achieve a washed-out look for The Long Goodbye, he did quite the opposite for A Prairie Home Companion. The cinematography is rich and sensational, often whirling between different sets in long, gorgeously extended shots. This isn't your typical backstage DV debacle; but the work of a director at the very height of his career.
The cast is yet another stunning ensemble, most of them probably flocking to Altman's direction. Beat this: Meryl Streep, Woody Harrelson, Kevin Kline, Lily Tomlin, Virginia Madsen, Tommy Lee Jones, Lindsay Lohan, John C.Reilly, and Garrison Keillor. Yeah. The beauty of the film is that none of these actors quite seem to be acting. Attribute this to Altman's classic overlapping dialogue, but don't forget to bow your heads to the performers as well. Often I'm annoyed by Altman's stubborn persistence with overlapping dialogue. I'll argue that when Altman should be trying to make cinema, he insists on imitating real life. But with A Prairie Home Companion, the overlapping dialogue is mandatory. Altman's best when he's making a film mostly about people and not about story. This is most obvious here. My one complaint with the film is its aversion to storyline. But this isn't too much of a problem because A Prairie Home Companion is, if nothing else, about the people of the radio show. This is a story about human beings, where overlapping dialogue is only expected.
The story finds itself toeing the line with magical realism. Virginia Madsen plays The Dangerous Woman, who Guy Noir (Kevin Kline) first describes as a femme fatale, and later as an angel. As she convinces us of her divinity, Noir finds a way to use her as an assassin to ward off the buyers of the radio show. This fantasy element works only to heighten the vibrancy of the rest of the film, where feet stay firmly planted to reality. Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin play the singing sisters Yolanda and Rhonda Johnson, with Lindsay Lohan as their gloomy daughter Lola. The three, as contrasting as the actors are on paper, flit about in a realm of familial nostalgia, with Lola penciling out her suicidal songs and scoffing beside their make-up mirrors. John C. Reilly and Woody Harrelson are Dusty and Lefty, the singing cowboys who crack dirty jokes backstage and jerk the chain of censorship with Al (Tim Russell), the stage manager. Chuck Akers (L.Q. Jones) and Evelyn (Marylouise Burke) are the elderly lovebirds who chase a potentially fatal lovemaking. And holding all these characters together is Garrison Keillor, whose nostalgia is matched only by his pragmatism and lack of sentimentality towards the show's demise. His performance is probably the most memorable, as the picture is fuller when he strolls about within it, offering truth to the blind antics of some of the other roles with his endless cache of stories.
A Prairie Home Companion's bubble doesn't burst as the lights go up. Instead, we find ourselves wishing the show would go on and the performers keep up doing their crazy little acts. This is Altman in his element; where humans are meant to be portrayed as humans. It's still lighthearted and mostly nonchalant, sure, but it's also about nostalgia and reminiscence, and the beauty that surrounds a family built behind the red curtains and a WLT microphone.
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