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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 11:41 pm 
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richast2 wrote:
Nice! The program specifies that California Split is "a restored and uncut 35mm print of the original theatrical version."

I caught this at MoMA when they did their Altman retrospective a little over a year ago - wonderful film, I didn't realize it had been altered on the DVD release. This may only apply to home video releases, but apparently they had problems clearing a bit of a music.

From Jonathan Rosenbaum's retrospective review:

Quote:
Some of the chance encounters in the movie are between the dialogue and various gritty songs that are sung offscreen by Phyllis Shotwell — encounters “staged” during postproduction by the film’s editor, Lou Lombardo.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
(Shotwell eventually appears onscreen in the movie at the Reno casino, belting out her numbers to her own piano accompaniment, but the fact that we start to hear her music much earlier in the movie, long before Reno is even mentioned, suggests an eerie kind of predestination, as if she were gradually pulling the two heroes towards her establishment like a magnet.)

Her lyrics usually have only the broadest relation to the action, but sometimes they draw closer in witty surprises —- or at least they once did. Unhappily, two of the most magical conjunctions between her songs and the on-screen action vanished from the movie on its way to DVD, due to problems with music rights: “I’m goin’ to Kansas City” was originally heard over the trip to Reno, and after the heroes arrived there, Gould’s and Shotwell’s seemingly independent raps, hers heard offscreen while Charlie and Bill crossed the street towards the casino, suddenly converged on the word “nobody”, pronounced by the two voices simultaneously. But on the DVD, Shotwell’s performance in this sequence is replaced by simple instrumental music, and thanks to yet another glitch, the DVD’s commentary still alludes to the magical convergence of the two voices saying “nobody” as if this were still in the movie. (Win a few, lose a few.)


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 11:45 pm 
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RobertAltman wrote:
Killer App, an unreleases pilot from 1998, written by Garry Trudeau and directed by Altman, can be seen here. It stars Scott Campbell and Stephen Lang, among others. Never knew this existed.

Me neither! More info on this lost pilot. If you google it, the search turns up old trade articles announcing the pilot's production, etc., so obviously it was a big deal going in to production, but then it just never aired.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:45 am 
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beamish13 wrote:
RobertAltman wrote:
Killer App, an unreleases pilot from 1998, written by Garry Trudeau and directed by Altman, can be seen here. It stars Scott Campbell and Stephen Lang, among others. Never knew this existed.

This is a phenomenal find. Thank you so much for the heads-up!

Yes, thank you very much. Time to save that sucker to the hard drive before it goes away!


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 6:37 am 
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hearthesilence wrote:
I did, as well as Gosford Park (which I posted about earlier) and The Long Goodbye. McCabe & Mrs. Miller looked great, it was MoMA's own archival print. Not new, but still in great shape.

It had been a while since I seen it, so I was a little stunned at how milky and light the shadows looked near the beginning, specifically when McCabe makes his entrance, sits down and starts a poker game. It's a very dark scene, and Warren Beatty is bathed in shadows, but again, all milky and whitish. Obviously a result of the "flashing" they applied to this film, but I wasn't sure if it was the result of a bad print until they lit a lamp that brought the room up in a warm glow, and then everything looked fine, the color and details were all intact.


Allegedly, no two prints of McCabe look entirely alike.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 12:22 pm 
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In both versions I have seen in theaters, no two reels look quite the same, even.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 4:09 pm 
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In case anybody's interested, I noticed someone put up the no-DVD release HealtH online. It's a bad way to see it, and it's cropped, but I'm finally glad to get a chance anyway. (HealtH, Countdown and Beyond Therapy are the only ones of his I haven't seen.)


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 2:23 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:45 pm
Well, looks like I've seen 19 Altman films now, which is of course not that much considering how many he made! I recently caught up with the much-maligned Dr. T and the Women and thought it was pretty good, not one of his best but somewhere towards the middle. Gere's performance may well be the best I've seen from him (what he did for Malick was perfect for that film, but it wasn't exactly superb acting), and overall the movie works better than expected given that it's Altman in full-satirical prankster mode making a pic about shallow Dallas-area conservative housewives, basically. But unlike something like O.C. & Stiggs, I thought Altman's mean-spiritedness was pretty minimal here. Aesthetically it's interesting as always, Altman showing an increasing mastery of form from the 90s onward.

But the other flick I saw and the one which was truly outstanding was the inexplicably underrated/overlooked Kansas City. Featuring a dynamite performance from a Jean Harlow-styled Jennifer Jason Leigh (plus Miranda Richardson as a very believable dope addict and Harry Belafonte as one sinister crime lord), the movie is constructed much like the amazing live jazz music that's sprinkled throughout it: like music, like jazz, like a repeating set of dueling notes, with plot beats being mirrored by others, call and response riffs of incident and reaction, everything having a certain musical structural beauty to it. It's both Altmanesque in its shambling roaming-camera style and yet also a bit more refined, its political corruption narrative and attempt to map an entire town during the 30s putting it in the same category as Polanski's Chinatown. Yet while the conclusion here is equally grim, there's the typical Altman irony and light-footed touch there to defuse things a bit. It's a fascinating mixture of Altman's earlier and later styles and a devastating narrative from any viewpoint, and I wish more people had seen it. It's odd -- it's one of those forgotten movies of which there is only a trailer of on YouTube, no clips, despite it being directed by an acclaimed master director and starring a bevy of famous faces. The film is an absolute masterpiece and possibly in the top 5 of his filmography that I've seen, I dare say. It'd also make a good double-bill with another 1996 30s-set gangster drama (also with some political overtones) -- Ferrara's The Funeral.

Anyway, more and more I'm thinking that Short Cuts has just as much claim to the title of Altman's best work as does the wonderful 3 Women, which was always my favorite. I'm just always so astounded by the deft way that Altman interweaves everything together in the former, how beautifully edited the damn thing is in drawing comparisons and contrasts and themes out of each story while never being too didactic or obvious about it. It's a hell of a movie, in length and in quality, yet I always feel like I could watch 10 more hours of it -- I love spending time in that world and with those fucked-up people, maybe because they feel so believably fucked-up. Lili Taylor and RDJ's characters in particular are tantalizingly sketched. That's the great thing -- Altman gives us just enough of each situation and character to be intrigued, to want more, but he doesn't over-do it. We get what we get and then we must exit the cinema (or our living rooms) at the end because it's over and life goes on, for them and for us. True fact: the first time I watched Short Cuts, I watched it three more times again in that week alone. It's positively addictive, and it also feels like a canny precursor to some of the best prestige television of the last 15-20 years in its unique editing rhythms and juggling of so many disparate things. (No surprise that the talented Geraldine Peroni was editor on the film, and other Altman works, as well as The Wire).


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 7:06 am 
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If interested, there is a (bootleg?) DVD that consists of extended jam sessions from the filming of "Kansas City." It's pretty cool. Right now, I'm moving, so it's packed up. But if you want any more information about it, let me know.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 11:25 am 
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Forgot, I actually posted about this before:
hearthesilence wrote:
Jazz '34: Remembrances of Kansas City Swing

Caught this at MoMA today, and wow, was it enjoyable, moreso than the actual film Kansas City.

Hal Willner was there to introduce, and boy did he have a lot of anecdotes. Just to keep things focused on this film alone, Altman was trying to make this for a while, and previous musical consultants had dropped out, which is how he wound up working on the film. He handpicked the players from all over the jazz and r&b world, which created some on-set tension as the musical sensibilities of these individuals at odds with one another. Some quit early on, but things seemed to calm down once they saw themselves on screen.

They filmed a LOT of footage of these characters playing. Willner claimed that dailies would run for 6 hours a night, possibly an exaggeration but I don't doubt they shot a lot of footage given that there were multiple cameras (Willner claims five) and if they caught every minute of these extended jam sessions.

Each player was also assigned a real life character to emulate - Redman is obviously the Prez, Lester Young, and emulates his style beautifully, and Craig Handy is presumably Coleman Hawkins. In general, the entire group seems to be loosely based on the great Count Basie band of the late '30s, with some notable additions. (Notably, someone in the audience was very enthusiastic whenever bassist Ron Carter popped up.)

Outside of some added voice-overs to link numbers, this may be called a well-edited outtakes collection. I think all of these numbers appear in the film, but usually in severely truncated form. Having them cut together in their entirety is wondrous as these are all amazing players and it's even more entertaining to 1) hear them play together - as mentioned these guys don't typically play together, but they gel incredibly well because 2) they are also "acting" through their music, emulating an era and style they are not known for playing - at least 90% of the time, there are instances where I feel like they stray a bit from the '30s towards something more modern, but even these moments fit wonderfully.

I'm not sure how this film was originally distributed - I was under the impression it was broadcast on PBS - but they screened an actual 35mm print. It was a little beat up and scratched, and due to this film's obscure reputation, I doubt they will strike any more prints. Curiously, they didn't make this print from original 35mm footage - there are occasional artifacts that clearly give it away as a video transfer. Basically, this footage was shot in 35mm, eventually made into a broadcast-quality video master (I'm guessing BetaSP?) and then dubbed back on to 35mm film. This may have been for archival purposes, but regardless, if someone ever reissues this, I hope they go back to the original camera negatives and make a new transfer.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 11:27 am 
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oh yeah wrote:
Anyway, more and more I'm thinking that Short Cuts has just as much claim to the title of Altman's best work as does the wonderful 3 Women, which was always my favorite.
Soul mates. Short Cuts is my favorite, and 3 Women my close second.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 6:16 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:45 pm
Interesting about Jazz '34. I definitely would like to seek that out, but it indeed looks like the only official release is a VHS, and the copy that's on YouTube is Russian-dubbed (though I suppose the music matters more than the narration). I know that Jonathan Rosenbaum preferred it to the actual Kansas City film.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 6:57 pm 
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Another solid later-period Altman is "Cookie's Fortune." It's not earth-shattering, but the ensemble cast is quite good, as one would expect. I haven't seen it in several years, but it's a nice and breezy 2 hours.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2016 7:27 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:45 pm
jorencain wrote:
Another solid later-period Altman is "Cookie's Fortune." It's not earth-shattering, but the ensemble cast is quite good, as one would expect. I haven't seen it in several years, but it's a nice and breezy 2 hours.

I liked that one, too, and would like to see it again; it kind of personifies that certain later Altman feel, where the films have a gentler and more relaxed style to them. By the time you get to The Company (one of my favorites), he's basically making minimalist tone poems so light-on-their-feet and graceful that they risk floating off into the ether. That's a compliment, though.

On the commentary track for Kansas City, Altman said something which I thought was very true and applicable to his films, which is basically that when you see a good movie once you haven't really seen the movie -- that the excuse of "oh, I won't go with you guys to the cinema, because I've already seen that" is silly, to Altman's mind, because if a movie's got anything there then you have to get past the "guessing-game" of the first viewing to really uncover its riches on the second.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2016 10:43 pm 
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StudioCanal released Cookie's Fortune on Blu-Ray in Germany a few weeks ago


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:19 pm 
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Is there a way to watch California Split in its original 108 minutes version (and shown in the right aspect ratio) here in Belgium (where I don't have the luxury of ever hoping to see it on the silver screen for the time being)? Is it currently available on any online streaming service, for instance?


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 3:22 pm 
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Really good segment on FilmStruck just went up about his apartment in New York City. Very stylish and very him.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:43 pm 
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I'm coming to the end of reading the Altman oral biography and having an at-home retrospective of (most of) his films, and I finally discovered the reason (or one of the reasons) that Ready to Wear (Prêt-à-Porter) is such a dismal film: Altman had a stroke right before shooting started. And then he had a heart transplant just afterwards. Nearly all of the reminiscences in the book from cast and crew on the film mention how ill he was during the making of the movie.

Production on Kansas City also had to be halted for three days because of recurrent illness, but he refused to let an insurance claim be filed to cover the costs of the shut-down because it would have almost certainly meant the end of his career. As a result, the production ran out of money and the studio dumped the film and refused to run an awards campaign for it.

I absolutely hated Prêt-à-Porter—one of the most memorably awful moviegoing experiences of my life, followed by a New Year's Eve party during which my date vomited all over our hostess' couch—so I passed on Kansas City when it came around. Too bad for me, as it's really good. Easily my favorite of Altman's 1990s "comeback" run (though Vincent & Theo was a really nice surprise as well—it would make a great double-feature with Peter Watkins' Edvard Munch). Jennifer Jason Leigh is her usual frustratingly inconsistent self, one minute brilliant, the next minute annoying as all get-out, Miranda Richardson is her usual note-perfect self, ultimately stealing the movie out from under JJL's grandstanding, and Harry Belafonte plays stunningly against type as a foul-mouthed, violent gangster. He won the New York Film Critics Circle award for best supporting actor that year, and it's not hard to think that he would have been nominated for an Oscar had the studio campaigned him for it.

Tonight it's The Gingerbread Man, a movie I remember admiring for its total subversion of the Grisham source material but not actually liking all that much.


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 Post subject: Re: Robert Altman
PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:36 pm 
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Im pretty much with you on all of that, except that I liked seeing some of Pret-a-Porter cast in their costumes-and of course Marcelo and Sophia.


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