Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The "Lifetime Acheivement" Oscar claims another victim

Subject: Noir
Robert Altman died today; a really well-reknowned director who got this year's "Lifetime Acheivement" award at the Oscars. Which, apparently, is given out almost exclusively to notables who are at death's door. Kind of an "oh, well we meant to" award.

I kind of hold that opinion because I remember when Fellini got it in 1993, just before he died. That lead me to dub it the "Kiss of Death" award, and justifiably so.

At any rate, I hadn't really developed much of a following for Altman, besides an overall abstract appreciation of what he was doing. He was more interested in the "moment" than the usual Hollywood accessability of any of his films, yet he was still able to attract the financing and the talent to do it. His filmography is diverse and experimental, and he was one of those who "got it".

I had planned on watching his last film, "Prarie Home Companion", this week, because... well, just because. Today was going to be the day I went over to Blockbuster to snag it, even. And this morning I saw the news. So, obviously, I just finished it.

He was ill enough that, at the time of the production, the studio mandated that he had a "replacement director" available in case he couldn't finish it. He managed to do it, but go figure. It was a bit of a parable about accepting the Big End. Well, it was a bit more obvious than just a parable; it was a story that had almost all of it's threads focused on ending. The end. That's it. We're done.

Rather sad, when you realize it. And, given the events of this year, a bit harsh for me. As if it didn't quite apply; almost contradictory in a way. But still obvious that he was thinking of his own inevitability at the time. He even tried to put a few words of comfort out there, in the mouth of the white-trenchcoated-so-called "angel". Before his death, it may have not been quite so obvious.

I like Garrison Keeler, but I rarely ever hear his NPR radio show that inspired the film. On the two or three occassions that I did, I was quite entertained. And I've always appreciated his writings and speaking engagments that I did witness. For a rather "face-made-for-radio" sort of guy, he's got a great way of vocally and prosaically expressing himself. His storytelling is second-to-none.

The down-homey character of the show in the film is infectious and pleasant. In a word, "nice". The deeper themes of passing-on and nostalgia for the past are just sideshows in a way to the folksy demeanor and atmosphere. It's like a way of life is dissappearing, right along with Altman's own advanced decrepitude.

There's a picture out there with Altman groping Lindsay Lohan's bare leg, while in a wheelchair on the set of this flick, which I think sums up the entire reason why I'm saluting him now. He reached out and grabbed it, and made it his. Up until the last. That's awesome. And sad. So I'll drink to him tonight. (or, I should say, keep drinking to him... *cough*)

No comments: