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
I am fascinated by the artistic process, how things are created, what motivates the artist, what obstacles are encountered and how they are overcome. In this documentary, I think Ron Mann has succinctly put together the various factors that motivated Robert Altman and made his career so long and successful. I felt I learned a lot more about the movie making process and artistic creation in general.
Simple things we now take for granted are important. For instance, putting together a team of people that work well together, giving people a break and letting them shine. These were radical ideas in the era of C2C Command and Control studio structures, where the word was passed down from on high. How about two people arguing, both speaking at the same time. Adds to the emotion and conflict right? Altman pioneered the use of multiple soundtracks to get right into a dialogue.
What I found particularly interesting was how Altman dealt with career setbacks. Each time things did not seem to be going his way (at least by the standards of others), he simply reinvented himself by turning to a different genre of film or theatre or production. When confronted by harsh critics, he simply shrugged it off and kept on working with undiminished enthusiasm. What a wonderful role model for young people starting off on a career. Bravo, great doc!!
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