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A Guide to Robert Altman in Five Films

on January 27, 2020, 2:00pm
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Middle-aged hipster. Indie film poohbah. Dirty old man. Snarky sonuvabitch. Legend of ‘70s cinema and beyond. Artist with a prickly level of impatience for the money men. Sweet old Missouri man. What’s your Altman?

Fifty years ago, Robert Altman made his first commercial splash with the heralded anti-war blitz MASH. All the hallmarks and bits and bobs were firmly at attention. The lingering, almost unwashed-looking camera. The propensity to populate a film with tons of actors, giving them fair time. A looseness of structure and vibe. Political, social antipathy, and a sense of place and period. Not to mention tons of smart-alecky dialogue and a distinctly calloused worldview.

MASH was arguably Altman’s breakout moment as a film director (and about damn time after languishing in television till his ‘40s), and from there, he couldn’t be stopped. Hit after flop after weird damn thing after genuine masterpiece later, Robert Altman movies endure as landmarks of the American cinematic vernacular. He was a painter of deeply idiosyncratic and absorbingly busy art, brushed in his own casual style of cinematic watercolor. In simpler terms, he was perhaps Dickens on pot.

As a 50th follow-up on MASH, and a celebration of a lasting filmography, today, Consequence of Sound has distilled the long career of Altman into a precision-built amphitheater of one man’s absolute best work. Just kidding; we’ve gone ahead and put together a fun and groovy starter list with lots of room for side adventures. Because Robert Altman. Because it don’t worry me.

–Blake Goble
Senior Staff Writer


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