Films Watched: January 22 to 28

Here is what I watched this week.  (I’m beginning to see why Netflix keeps recommending me “films with strong female leads”.) Continue reading “Films Watched: January 22 to 28”

Tributes for Altman

Tributes for legendary director Robert Altman have come pouring in since Altman’s death was announced Tuesday. Here is a round up of some of my favorites:

“He was the last great American director in the tradition of John Ford.” – Elliot Gould (M*A*S*H)

“What a gent, what a guy, what a great heart. Bob’s restless spirit has moved on. I have to say, when I spoke with him last week, he seemed impatient for the future. He still had the generous, optimistic appetite for the next thing, and we planned the next film, laughing in anticipation of the laughs we’d have.” – Meryl Streep (A Prairie Home Companion)

“There’s no one I’m prouder to have worked with. He was an ecstatic … a magician … a conjurer … a mischievous boy. He understood and could express that uniquely American shape-shifting goofiness more than anyone. He was the deepest ocean and the lightest feather at the same time. We all loved him so much.” – Richard Gere (Dr. T and the Women

“Robert Altman was a truly unique director and an extraordinary man. We are all saddened by this news and send our condolences to his wife Kathryn and family.” – Kevin Spacey (Resurrection Blues)

“He loved the chaos of shooting and the sociability of the crew and actors – he adored actors. … When he was working, he was in heaven.” – Garrison Keillor (A Prairie Home Companion)

“He was very good at letting actors think that they had more control than they actually did.” – Tommy Lee Jones (A Prairire Home Companion)

And finally, this quote from Bryan Wilson on A Prairie Home Companion sums up everything Robert Altman stood for as a director.

“When I heard Altman died I went out and bought this movie and I’ve been playing it as I written up this list. It’s simply lovely. That sums up just about everything that Altman had to say, and does so with a tender sense of conclusion. It is possibly the best, simplest, and loveliest last word that a filmmaker has ever had. Even the last shot is a strange and perfect coincidence; an angel of death comes through the camera almost like she’s coming for the director. It’s not stale though, it’s not indulgent self-love, it’s just wonderful, and it’s just Altman. I will miss him terribly, and despite the fact that he made movies for over 50 years, I still feel cheated, I want more. Like most Altman fans I’d give anything for a new film, though we all know now we’ll never get it. I can only be grateful, grateful for all the wonderful films that Altman left, grateful for the vision Altman brought to film, and grateful that he was allowed this wonderful piece of work to sum it all up.”

Robert Altman (1925-2006)

Legendary director Robert Altman, who received a lifetime achievement Oscar in March, passed away Monday night due to undisclosed causes. New York Times Obituary

A five-time-Academy Award nominee, Altman is known for his satire and idosyncratic directing style seen in such films as M*A*S*H, Nashville, Gosford Park, The Player, Short Cuts, McCabe and Mrs Miller and most recently, 2006’s A Prairie Home Companion.

Altman is survived by his wife, Kathryn and his five children.
Although I have not seen all of Altman’s films (just M*A*S*H and A Prairie Home Companion), this news comes as a shock. A Prairie Home Companion shows that after 50 years in the entertainment industry, Altman was still at his top directorial form.

Altman was a great filmmaker who deserves something more than recognition, praise, or an Academy Award.

Altman said this upon accepting his lifetime achievement award:

No other filmmaker has gotten a better shake than I have. I’m very fortunate in my career. I’ve never had to direct a film I didn’t choose or develop. My love for filmmaking has given me an entree to the world and to the human condition.”

He will be missed.

My 2006 Academy Awards Recap

The Oscars were really good this year (definitely much better than last year’s show.) Where to begin?

The opening montage of every classic moment/actor digitally animated… wow. For a classic film freak like me, it was fun trying to see how many movies I could name. Then the comedy bits started. I loved it when Jon Stewart woke up in bed with George Clooney. “Is this a dream?” “No.” Great way to start the show.

Stewart’s first few jokes completely bombed but after that he picked up steam. Then he lost it again. That’s okay. Nothing can stop me from loving Jon Stewart. I loved the tribute to Westerns and the innuendos. “The gayest genre” according to Stewart if you watched Oprah today.

Best Supporting Actor goes to… George Clooney, as predicted. He gave a great speech. “All right, so I’m not winning director.” Then he added, “I’m proud to be out of touch”.

March of the Penguins won best documentary, although it should’ve gone to Enron. Still a great movie nonetheless and I loved how the director (I forget his name) dedicated the award to all the children who saw the film and how hopefully it could influence then when they’re making the important decisions (with environmental issues and such) by 2041.

Rachel Weisz winning was awesome and she looked gorgeous for being 7 months pregnant. In her speech she thanked those who do the humanitarian work like her character did in The Constant Gardener.

I guess the old fart’s don’t run Hollywood afterall. I mean, 36 Mafia won for best song. By far the most excited (and more shocked than the cast of Crash) to win.

Robert Altman, director of M*A*S*H and Nashville, received the honorary oscar. Well-deserved. He’s been denied too long. His next feature is A Prarie Home Companion. Meryl Streep and Lindsay Lohan star in a great ensemble cast.

Philip Seymour Hoffman won Best Actor for his role as Truman Capote in Capote. And he dressed for the occasion.

Another shocker. Reese Witherspoon won.

Love Ang Lee. Great director. He deserved it for Brokeback Mountain.

But the best moment of the evening had to be when Crash pulled the biggest upset in recent year’s. Yes, I was expecting that it could happen and as the night went on, it was becoming a little more clear to me that it could, but stilll I was shocked. My jaw literally hit the floor. And then I was pissed. Why? The acceptance speech was cut off. Come on now. They make this big deal during the show to promote great Oscar moments and the producer ruin one by turning off the mic.

I’ll respond to the controversy surrounding this win tomorrow.

The Crash posse

Other great moments:

  • The mock political campaigns fro Best Actress. “Keira Knightley, acting while pretty.”
  • Lauren Bacall. Need I say enough.
  • The montage tributes to epics, film noir, and biopics.
  • Itzhak Perlman, playing selections from each nominated score.
  • Stewart, ” “‘Good night and good luck’ — the line that Mr. Clooney ends all of his dates with.” The look on Clooney’s face… priceless.

Overall a great night at the Oscars. Can’t wait until next year. I’m thinking Scorcese could finally win.

A Well-Deserved Honor

This is very good news!

Director Robert Altman is joining the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Lumet, Blake Edwards, Cary Grant, Arthur Miller, and Greta Garbo. Like these other legends he is receiving his lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences without having ever won a competitve Oscar. (Don’t even get me start on this topic!)

The ballot was cast Tuesday night by the Academy’s board of governors and Altman was informed on Wednesday. In a statement to the press, Academy President Sid Ganis declared that Altman is a “master filmmaker [who] well deserves this honor.”

M*A*S*H, Nashville, The Player, Short Cuts and Gosford Park are the five films that have earned Altman seven Oscar nominations, five for Best Director. It was 1970’s M*A*S*H, a black comedy set during the Korean War, that established Altman as a top-notch director. But it was 2001’s Gosford Park that became Altman’s most accessible and successful films at the box office. At age 80, Altman is still working with A Prarie Home Companion, starring Meryl Streep and Lindsay Lohan (it can’t get much better than that) due out later this year.