First time poster, though I've been a huge Robert Altman & film fan for years. I first got into Altman's films in the 2000's after I got my first DVD player (though, as a kid, I had seen Popeye in the theatre back in the day). I agree with other posters that he's one of the best American directors ever. Most of his films are amazing, and definitely require more than one viewing to fully appreciate. IMHO his '70's output is his best, though he has a lot of other great films (notably his '90's movies).
I'm now re-watching (or watching for the first time) most of Altman's films (available on DVD), in no particular order. Here are some reviews/comments:
That Cold Day in the Park (1969): Superb! Just saw this for the first time ever, since it just got released to DVD/Blu-ray this year (I saw the regular DVD). Great Anamorphic Widescreen print (I don't like seeing pan & scan or cropped films, since you lose much of the picture & the picture quality is usually sub-par - see my username ;) ), and just an amazing film in general. I thought this would be one of Altman's lesser films since it was an older one, but I actually prefer this to some of his more well known & critically acclaimed material. Well-done story, & acting - Sandy Dennis was particularly excellent. When I started watching the film, I thought she was much too attractive for the role, but as the movie progressed I saw how perfect the casting was; she definitely had a cold beauty that was spot-on for the part. Liked the "Altman touches", i.e. the background conversations, the close-ups of inanimate objects, the slow loss of focus as the scene fades, etc. The ending was a real shocker, though I won't ruin this for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. (I'm not sure what the protocol is for these boards - though it's a 40+ year old film, I'm guessing not everyone has seen this since it's seems to have been widely unavailable on home video until this year).
3 Women (1977): Just re-watched this, and am truly bowled over by the excellence of this film. Not sure if this is my favorite Altman movie, but it's in my top five. Excellent performances by Shelley Duvall & Sissy Spacek, and the artwork (the drawings done by the pregnant artist) and colors (Purple Sage Apartments, the clothes, etc.) are incredible. You get a real feeling of desolation/hopelessness in this movie (i.e. the stark desert, etc.), though this may just be my interpretation. The twins who worked at the senior rehabilitation facility were quite creepy. I thought it was depressing how Millie (Duvall) kept trying to get others to pay attention to her and they just ignored her; that being said, one of the funniest recurring sequences is when she kept trying to get that guy's attention (in the apartment complex) & whenever she spoke to him, he coughed as if he were sick (presumably to avoid talking to her) - LOL. I also thought the Mille character's obsession with food & the time it took to cook certain dishes both interesting & pathetic. The elderly couple who came to see the Pinky character in the hospital & claimed to be her parents seemed unlikely (Pinky said she didn't know who they were, but that may just have been a result of her fall).
Anyway, after watching the film several times, I had an opinion, and wanted to see what others thought:
- My interpretation of the film is that the whole movie was a dream, up until the very end; i.e., when you see the Pinky & Millie characters in the Desert bar (and they're revealed to be mother & daughter), and then you see the pregnant artist (as the grandmother?!) sitting on the porch, that's the reality. The grandmother mentions she just had a strange dream, and I believer all of the preceding story was the dream she just had. This is just my opinion, however.