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November 27, 2006

More Tributes to Altman

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Garrison Keillor recalls Robert Altman. (Link thanks to Anne Thompson.) Lots of sweet and heartfelt tributes and notes of sympathy can be read here. My favorite: "For everyone who really loves art (movies, books, whatever), there is always at least one person out there who means more to you than is rational. For me, Robert Altman was that person. He was a man I never met, yet I feel as if my father has passed away. I will miss him terribly and always." I feel that way myself.



posted by Michael at November 27, 2006


Your tribute to Altman is very touching. I'm really a little too young to have totally gotten him---but I like "The Player." I'm a philistine that actually thinks the TV show of "M*A*S*H" was funnier than the bits and pieces of the movie I have seen. That's a movie (kind of like "Easy Rider" or "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice" or "The Graduate") that seems very of its time and place, rather than "timeless".

But the point is he spoke quite viscerally to a lot of people, and that is a life well-lived. I hope Altman managed to enjoy some of what he did for others while he was alive, to appreciate what he meant, because he deserved to. The industry didn't always honor him the way they have some, and maybe that meant nothing to him (except I don't know too many people for whom honoring by their peers really, really "means nothing.") But he changed lives, like yours, in a postive way (not in a he-ruined-my-life way) and that is about as good a thing as one can aspire to do.

Posted by: annette on November 27, 2006 9:43 AM

I could never get past the soundtracks in his movies. Chaotic. I guess you either love chaos, as being authentic, or you don't. I don't.

Posted by: ricpic on November 27, 2006 4:43 PM

Annette -- I always thought "M*A*S*H" the movie was oversold as a comedy. It's plenty funny, but I really love about it is the texture: the way there are always layers, the way time passes, the way you get glimpses of different sides of characters and performers ... It struck me as surprisingly touching as well as funny. As an entertainment-history note, I'm pretty sure "M*A*S*H" the movie was the beginnings of something we take for granted now: the multi-protagonist, mixed-mode dramedy, the kind of thing that turned into "Hill Street Blues" and "E.R." Although you could certainly argue that the novelist Ed McBain got there first ...

Ricpic -- Yeah, I know that some make the case that the Altman soundtrack was good because it was more "authentic" than the usual soundtrack. But I never felt that way. It always struck me as being just as choreographed as any other soundtrack. I just liked the choreography. I can understand why some just found it murky, and certainly if it doesn't work for you it doesn't work for you. But right from the outset (ie., "M*A*S*H") I found myself loving Altman's approach to sound, and picking up all kinds of ricochets and refrains in his soundtracks. Well, most of them anyway ... Sometimes they did just seem chaotic for chaos' sake.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 28, 2006 1:22 PM

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