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Robert Altman R.I.P.

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Robert Altman R.I.P.
Robert Altman R.I.P.

“Two penguins are standing on an ice floe. The first penguin says, you look like you’re wearing a tuxedo. The second penguin says, what makes you think I’m not?” — Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion

“So by all means let’s plant poles all across the country, festoon the cocksucker with wires, to hurry the sorry word and blinker our judgements and motive ... Ain’t the state of things cloudy enough? Don’t we face enough fuckin’ imponderables?” — Al Swearengen, Deadwood

And so we face another imponderable with the news that director Robert Altman has passed away at age 81. The particulars of his death will no doubt surface in subsequent news reports (and I personally believe that Altman would prefer we focus on how he lived as opposed to how he died). But it’s no surprise that the few obituaries I’ve read thus far do little more than reformulate and regurgitate the received wisdom on this great film artist, praising M*A*S*H for the umpteenth time; consigning most, if not all of his 80s work to a barren, forgotten wilderness; slapping him on the back for his 90s “resurgence” with The Player and Short Cuts; and finally remarking with thinly veiled, aw-shucks irony (and decontextualized supporting pull quote) that his swan song, A Prairie Home Companion, is all about “death.”