Without a doubt, Robert Altman is one of the most influential directors in American film history. Always creative, innovative, subversive and prolific, he took chances and tried almost every single genre and narrative approach without sacrificing his distinct style until his passing in 2006. His commercial and/or critical hits are each bona fide classics in American cinema. “Nashville,” “MASH,” “The Long Goodbye,” “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” “The Player,” “Short Cuts,” “Gosford Park“… the list goes on and on. Even his misses (does anyone remember “O.C. and Stiggs,” Altman’s bizarre attempt at an ’80s sex comedy?) are fascinating.
Now you can get your Altman fix by revisiting an excellent documentary that has been kicking around online. Originally produced and broadcast in 1996 by England’s Channel 4 (let’s face it, the European audience appreciated Altman a lot more than Americans ever did) as part of their “Cinefile” series, the approximately fifty-minute documentary covers everything from Altman’s background, his jazz influences and many production details from his most famous films up until that point. The doc is mostly comprised of an interview with Altman, with comments from long-time Altman collaborators like Elliot Gould, Shelley Duvall and Alan Rudolph peppered in.
If you would like to get a more feature-length, more recent look at Robert Altman, you’re in luck: The 2014 documentary “Altman” about, guess who, just premiered on Epix on August 6th. [Cinephilia And Beyond]