Distributor: The Match Factory.
Love & Anarchy 28th Helsinki International Film Festival (HIFF).
Viewed on a screener dvd.
First HIFF screening 18 Sep 2015
OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS FROM THE PROMOTION MATERIAL OF THE FILM:
"ALTMAN is a tribute to the life and times of filmmaker Robert Altman (M*A*S*H, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Nashville, The Player, Gosford Park, and many more.) Director Ron Mann take us on a revelatory road trip through the highs and lows of this uncompromising visionary’s career, using rare interviews, representative film clips, archival images, and musings from Altman’s family and most recognizable collaborators."
"ALTMAN explores and celebrates the epic fifty-year redemptive journey of one of the most important and influential filmmakers in cinema history. While refusing to bow down to Hollywood's conventions, or its executives, Altman's unique style of filmmaking won him friends and enemies, earned him world-wide praise and occasionally scathing criticism, and proved that it is possible to make truly independent films."
"Maverick. Auteur. Rebel. Innovator. Storyteller. Rambler. Gambler. Mad man. Family man. Director. Artist."
"The very term “Altmanesque” has come to denote a cinematic style characterized by dark humor, chaotic choreography, overlapping and sometimes murky dialogue, multi-layered storylines, iconoclastic characters, omniscient cinematography, and a seat-of-the-pants ensemble approach to imagining and crafting a film."
"A dynamic and heartfelt meditation on an artist, produced and directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Ron Mann (Grass, Comic Book Confidential, Twist, Go Further). Featuring Kathryn Reed Altman, Michael Murphy, Lily Tomlin, Julianne Moore, Keith Carradine, Elliott Gould and many more."
SCOTT FOUNDAS: "To great, stirring effect, “Altman” charts a different course, drawing on a wealth of existing material to tell the filmmaker’s story largely in his own, brashly eloquent words, and through generous clips from his massive, admittedly uneven, always uncompromising filmography. The result captures Altman the artist and the man, the one inseparable from the other, about as well as any two-hour film could hope to do… Working closely with Altman’s widow, Kathryn, and his frequent producer Mathew Seig, Mann draws on a treasure trove of archival material (family photos, homemovies, unreleased short films and rare behind-the-scenes footage)… Mann also stages original interviews with such close Altman collaborators as Keith Carradine, Elliott Gould, Sally Kellerman and Lily Tomlin, as well as longtime fan Paul Thomas Anderson … In a bold formal stroke, he asks each of these subjects — elegantly photographed in medium closeup against a black background by Mann and d.p. Simon Ennis — only a single question: to define, in their own words, the term Altmanesque." — Scott Foundas, VARIETY. (Official information from the film's promotion material)
AA: Engrossing, masterful, of lasting value.
Like Stig Björkman's Ingrid Bergman In Her Own Words, Ron Mann's Altman belongs to the highest rank of documentaries on film-makers. And like Stig Björkman's film, Altman is also largely based on unpublished material: home movies, behind-the-scenes footage, and short films never released (The Party). There are samples of Altman's early industrial films at Kansas City. To a North European viewer one must also add that there are samples from Altman's extensive television career, largely unknown here. It was Alfred Hitchcock who discovered Altman for television. Whirlybirds are included. The episode Survival for the series Combat!, starring Vic Morrow, was a trial. Altman was a war veteran, himself, and his approach to shell shock almost led to his being fired. He was not allowed to cast a black protagonist to the episode The Hunt in Kraft Suspense Theatre, and he subsequently quit television. Ron Mann's documentary is also an anthology of Robert Altman's public performances on tv shows, festivals, etc. A highlight: the life achievement award at the Oscar gala. Robert Altman was eloquent, good copy. Because of all this Altman is not only a wonderful general overview of the maverick master but a genuine and indispensable addition to the Robert Altman canon. Besides, the clips of the feature films, the famous ones and the less known ones, are great, as well.
The funny refrain: each interviewee is asked to define "Altmanesque". Each answer is different ("fearless", etc.). The very film starts with three "official dictionary definitions" by Ron Mann and Len Blum.
A constant theme: facing adversity, opposition, failure; never giving up. The crushing reactions of Jack Warner (to overlapping dialogue) and Darryl F. Zanuck (to blood). The toughest adversity was the final one. I had not been aware of Altman's serious health condition (resulting to a total heart transplant) during the making of his last eight films, starting with Prêt-à-porter. I am reminded by what my late mother told me: "a man's measure is how he faces adversity".
A film of many surprises and revelations, including the final, touching one where Kathryn Reed tells about the turning-point film of Robert Altman: Brief Encounter.
Technically a top professional production.
JANNE SUNDQVIST'S CATALOG INTRODUCTION:
JANNE SUNDQVIST'S CATALOG INTRODUCTION:
Ohjaaja Robert Altman (1925–2006) oli Hollywoodin tärkeimpiä nimiä 1970-luvulla. Hänen amerikkalaista yhteiskuntaa ilkeällä hymyllä tarkkailleet elokuvansa (mm. M.A.S.H.,1972; Nashville, 1975; McCabe and Mrs. Miller,1971; The Player, 1992) ovat klassikkoja.
Kunnioittava ohjaajamuotokuva tuo oman lisänsä Hollywoodin perinteitä rikkoneen uuden Hollywoodin tarinaan. Elokuva etsii määritelmää sanalle “altmanesque” (altmanmainen) ja heittää haasteen elokuvantekijöille (mm. Robin Williams ja Paul Thomas Anderson) sekä perheenjäsenille.
Perhe-elokuvan muotoon tehty dokumentti kertoo selviytyjästä, jonka piti yhä uudestaan perustella näkemyksensä sakset kourassa odottaville tuottajille. Altman kertoo oppineensa jo varhain valitsemaan kuvauspaikat mahdollisimman kaukaa tuottajistaan.
Paljon käsiteltyyn tarinaan tuo lisävaloa huomion kiinnittäminen Altmanin uran alkuaikoihin. Kahnaukset pomojen kanssa alkoivat jo 1960-luvun alussa, kun entinen pommikonelentäjä Altman halusi tuoda sotaa käsittelevän tv-sarjan jaksoon realismia. Kiinnostavaa materiaalia on tarjolla myös Kippari-Kalle-fiaskoa (1980) seuranneista kokeiluista, jotka johtivat vielä mosaiikkielokuva Short Cutsiin (1993) ja uuteen nousuun.
HIFF Catalog and Website:
"Altman (…) [draws] on a wealth of existing material to tell the filmmaker’s story largely in his own, brashly eloquent words, and through generous clips from his massive, admittedly uneven, always uncompromising filmography. The result captures Altman the artist and the man, the one inseparable from the other, about as well as any two-hour film could hope to do."
"Working closely with Altman’s widow, Kathryn, and his frequent producer, Mathew Seig, Mann draws on a treasure trove of archival material (family photos, homemovies, unreleased short films and rare behind-the-scenes footage) to illustrate Altman’s journey from WWII fighter pilot to Kansas City industrial filmmaker and his early flirtations with Hollywood."
"(…) Altman himself makes clear in the dozens of interviews and public appearances (…) [that] he rarely concerned himself with matters of public taste and commercial appeal, making the movies he wanted to make the way he wanted to make them — a free radical whose path only occasionally collided with the zeitgeist over the course of his exceptionally varied six-decade career. That Mann lets Altman himself be our guide proves invaluable (…)."
Scott Foundas, Variety (HIFF Catalog and Website)