A final live variety show broadcast via radio becomes a metaphor for the natural order of life. A concept and script by Garrison Keilor uses every natural and technical element of working with a tight and close ensemble producing a weekly show to sooth us and guide us through the natural but difficult transitions of aging, becoming less relevant and then dying as new, young life develops and strengthens during our final "performances." This is a rare film for it's remarkable cast and crew and one wonders how the great Robert Altman was able to gather them all at the same place and time to shoot this film.Written by
To broaden the film's appeal, Garrison Keillor considered changing the title to "Savage Love". Bob Berney, President of Picturehouse, was adamant that the film should remain "A Prairie Home Companion." 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 »
A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION (Robert Altman, 2006) ***
Before watching this movie, I had never heard of writer/performer/radio personality Garrison Keillor and the main reason I rented this was because it was Robert Altman's last film. As usual, he managed to rope in several high-profile Hollywood names into his cast - Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Kline, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin - but, as Altman himself admits in the rambling but not uninteresting Audio Commentary - he is basically just giving cinematic life to Keillor's preoccupations and radio show. The latter features a few Country & Western acts performing for a live audience (which is never shown) including Harrelson and Reilly as rude, lewd singing cowboys (their "Bad Jokes" song is a delightful highlight), Streep (who is clearly having a ball), Tomlin and Lohan as a singing family and even Sam Peckinpah favorite L. Q. Jones as another singing cowboy/old-timer.
The most interesting aspects of the film are non-music related, however: it starts out in a Noir-ish style with smooth-talking detective Guy Noir (Kline) acting as narrator and observer and his clumsy attempts to stop the Axeman (Tommy Lee Jones) from foreclosing the show. Along the way, he meets and falls for a white-clad Angel of Death (Madsen) who, having expired herself in a traffic accident some years back while listening to Keillor's show, has now come to claim the lives of the two Joneses and possibly Kline himself...
While perhaps a minor film in the Altman canon, it is still a respectable and fitting swan song for him. The shadow of impending death hangs so heavily on the movie that it is indeed remarkable how entertaining it actually is; I'm sure there are some more examples of a distinguished film-maker reflecting so openly on his approaching death but the three I can think of at the moment off the top of my head are the Wim Wenders/Nicholas Ray collaboration LIGHTNING OVER WATER (NICK'S MOVIE) (1979; which I've yet to watch for myself), Bob Fosse's ALL THAT JAZZ (1979; like Altman's film, also disguised as a musical) and John Huston's appropriately-titled last film, THE DEAD (1987).
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