Roger L. Simon

Robert Altman dies

There was a period of time when I thought Robert Altman was a great director- capital ‘g’ – mostly shortly after the appearance of “MASH”. I remember liking “Nashville” quite a lot too, though I have not seen it recently. I wasn’t as entranced with “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” although I know many were.

Then I became less interested in Altman. His semi-plotless improvisations seemed more of a schtick. Even when he came back to ‘story’ with “Gosford Park,” he didn’t appear to have is heart in it. He was one of those ‘auteurs’ who was in love with the sin-nay-mah, saying all the right anti-Establishment things while milking the Establishment for all it was worth. Still, actors loved him (he let them improvise – why not?) and his work has many fine and amusing scenes. It’s just that the whole is vastly less than the parts. [Aren’t you only supposed to say nice things about the dead?-ed. I’m sure he was a terrific guy. And I said I liked “MASH” and “Nashville.”]

BTW, here’s a movie I found first-rate. See it with kids if you can, but see it anyway. The film’s director – George Miller – is developing quite an impressive oeuvres.