Precious Cargo

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Richard Schickel Slams Robert Altman's Oeuvre

Richard Schickel slams Altman's films and Mitchell Zuckoff's oral biography of the director in his book review in the Los Angeles Times.

His films do not transcend their times; even the best of them remain trapped within those times.

This book provides massive evidence that people had lots of fun making them, but none whatsoever that they will survive as anything more than historical curiosities.


Well, it's about time, too. I never understood why Altman was such a critic's darling. I remember seeing "MASH" with my parents and sister when I was 13 years old, and I recall enjoying it, probably because its mildly transgressive language, sexual content and anti-authoritarian humor amused me. I also liked "Brewster McCloud," for the same reasons, and for the plausible-looking human ornithopter apparatus Bud Cort uses to fly at the film's end. I later discovered Altman's "Countdown," which is his most conventional film and also his best. I saw quite a few of Altman's subsequent films, including his putative masterpieces, "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and "Nashville," and just didn't find them entertaining. The unending praise of Altman as an American artist remains inexplicable to me.

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3 Comments:

Blogger David said...

It's one thing criticize the films, I find Altman to be the greatest narrative American filmmaker of the sound era, but Schikel clearly makes a point to settle a personal grudge against Altman and the author.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Peter L. Winkler said...

What evidence can you present that Schickel has a personal grudge against Altman and Zuckoff? It certainly isn't apparent from the review, unlss you're suggestig that Altman's personal life, especially his drug use, motivates Schickel's criticism of his films.

12:07 PM  
Blogger David said...

Richard Schickel is a reactionary studio apologist. He is clearly threatened by Altman's loose working style as opposed to that of his hero Eastwood. His shots at Altman's contempt of writers is unfounded, he worked closely with several writers. Schickel also takes Altman to task on his personal life, suggesting his lifestyle made his work suffer, in which case it seemed to do the opposite.

8:09 PM  

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