Here’s one measure of Robert Altman’s influence: asked to celebrate the director’s way-overdue honorary Oscar Sunday with a Robert Altman Blog-a-thon Weekend March 3 through 5, a small constellation of writers has responded by doing whatever the hell they want, in whatever manner and at at whatever pace they please.
Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule has already published a tasty two-part career survey that’s as fractured and idiosyncratic as Altman’s films. (Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here.) The Wit of the Staircase has gotten lost in the opium haze of McCabe & Mrs. Miller. Enter the Quiet Bubble for a rhapsody on Dr. T and the Women that coins a phrase I plan to steal: “Screwball raunch.” The Evening Class has an account of a 2003 Robert Altman tribute at the Castro Theater, where Nashville was screened and Altman held court.
Speaking of Nashville, Edward Copeland on Film explains why Altman’s Bicentennial-themed extravaganza has risen to his All Time Top 10 list, tells you where Altman’s 24 principal castmembers are today, and recalls his own 1994 interview with Altman, who was on tour promoting Ready to Wear. Copeland disliked the movie, but has never forgotten one of Altman’s observations: “He said with most movies, it’s always better watching them the second time, because the first time you are too preoccupied with what is going to happen. With a second viewing, you can relax and just let the film unfold before you. I think that is true of many of Altman’s films—but it’s not enough to convince me to look at Ready to Wear again.”
I am sure that by the time you read this, more participants in the Altman Blog-a-thon Weekend will have either jumped the gun and posted early or made plans to post next week, by which point Altman will surely have hollowed out his honorary Oscar to create a huge gold pipe. To quote That Little Round-Headed Boy, “The Altman blog-a-thon isn’t supposed to start officially until Friday, but how can an Altman fan quibble about paying no attention to the rules?”
Finally, a link to LA Daily News where TV columnist David Kronke plugging Altman Blog-a-thon Weekend. He calls us nerds—lovingly! claws in, people—then concludes, “If you’re a longtime Altman fan, this sounds suspiciously like how you’re going to spend your weekend. And if Altman’s brilliance has always eluded you, here’s how you can discover what you’ve been missing.”
If you would like to add an Altman link to the compilation above, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or put the URL in the comments section of this post. Even if you’ve notified me before, do it again when you go live. There are as many participants in this thing as there are characters in an Altman movie, which tends to make a blog-a-thon coordinator dizzy. I don’t want to miss anyone.
Matt Zoller Seitz is the founder of The House Next Door.