‘Nashville’ and ‘M*A*S*H’ Director Gets an Informal Retrospective in Detroit This Week | Movies | Detroit

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United Artists

The camera capturing him frequently through the windows, The long goodbye makes private detective Philip Marlowe as much an actor as an observer.

In a stroke of luck, Detroit will see two Robert Altman revival screenings this week — and neither is Nashville or of MASH POTATOES. The first, a 1973 update of Raymond Chandler’s book The long goodbye, which will play as part of Cinema Lamont’s “Noirvember” series (organized, I must say, by friends), stands as one of Altman’s most enduring works, visibly and sometimes timidly planting a foot in the past from which he draws inspiration while fixing the other in the atmosphere much of his own present. The second, Vincent and Theo, returns from 1990: the theatrical version of Altman’s Van Gogh-centric miniseries, premiering at the Detroit Film Theater at DIA. Although Altman is best known for his sprawling sets, including Shortcuts, The playerand the films mentioned above – both of these feature films live off the rich eccentricities of their lead performers, making them feel contemporary like portraits of outsiders brimming with life.

long goodbyeThe detective story of feeds on ironic and inevitable collisions of personalities, each character in play crashing against the mumbling, eternally displaced private eye of Elliott Gould. Weaving in and out of dangerous situations, armed with little wit and the fickle help of chance, Leigh Brackett’s screenplay casts Gould’s Philip Marlowe as an unlikely hero stumbling through situations he can barely hope to straighten out. . In this friction – which sees his shabby, singular and charming figure constantly out of its depth – there is a real thrill to be had, even if it resists conventional approaches to the story: twisting familiar rhythms like resolution, rescue and climax.

Altman, always a politically aware filmmaker, makes a home of this uneasy existentialism, sold by its details. With a trajectory that seems wandering, accumulating both character and detail, the pieces of GoodbyeThe world of holds more connections than it appears at first glance, which gives rise to an existential, slightly paranoid vision, which will influence works like The great Lebowski and inherent vice.

Due to the combined and pressurizing logics of detective fiction and narrative economy (as well as the transplantation of history from the 1950s to the 1970s), paranoia becomes a natural mood. For detective novels are defined by the forces of intuition and intuition, a sense that – in the absence of sufficient evidence to form a complete picture – any movement may yield better results than hesitation. .

But Gould’s lanky figure proves more an avatar of stubborn, cunning effort than brute force, and one with some apparent knowledge of the limits of his own power. With “it’s fine with me” forming a kind of cornerstone of its interior monologues, the film seems to admit that intervention to fix small-scale, past, or even larger social ills isn’t always possible. In such an environment, Gould’s tone of relaxed, if slightly bitter skepticism, with a default mode of puzzled observation, comes to seem like the cleanest and most natural response possible. Vilmos Zsigmond’s camera frequently capturing him through windows, bars or networks of interlocking reflections, The long goodbye makes Marlowe hardly so much an actor as an observer. Coming too late to change much, the job of solving a crime becomes the job of assembling and presenting a compelling, or at least believable, story. The job of making films – and adapting previous works – is only so different, but it’s rare to see it done better than it is here.

Vincent and Theo posits eccentricity and instability as character traits, yes, but which also function as responses to a lack of agency or personal power. With Tim Roth playing Van Gogh as an instinctive, above-water figure on the edge of a norm-driven society, carving out a place for himself and his work creates a constant challenge. Despite short-lived intimate ties to an array of women and a close but strained relationship with his considerably more buttoned-up brother Theo (Paul Rhys), something about his disposition and work reliably propels him away from the social centers of financial and social stability. .

But there’s a lot to be gained from those relative margins — something that cinematographer Jean Lépine (who also shot The player‘s backlots, dive bars and alleys) convincingly captures long shots in boudoirs and outdoor landscapes. Beaches, dunes and fields all look like environments with an inherently wild nature, rebelling against the smoothing and shaping impulses of the society they go against. But like Altman’s Marlowe, Vincent de Roth – albeit a bit less comfortably – makes these spaces a home, presenting them as a kind of natural habitat with a distinct vibe and texture that he and the film work on. in parallel to capture.

While yielding to certain biographical rhythms – not quite unlike those captured in Vincente Minneli’s previous thirst for lifeVincent and Theo manages an intimacy with its subject that feels self-reflective at its core. In a scene with a model, Vincent draws her in what is seen as a kind of violation – as she kneels above a chamber pot. When she protests, he’s perplexed, having found some sort of unposed expression in a moment the portrayal of which she calls non-consensual theft. This tension – between presenting an image that is controlled but also open to the flippant, private and accidental – presents a kind of rebellious impropriety that is at the heart of Altman’s directorial work. Equally enticed by flippant mumblings and unprepared artistic models, Altman’s familiar cinema always seems to resist the backlash of generic structures by its early loyalties to its own predilections, whether found in biopics, westerns or black. Filled with sights and sounds that seem too casual not to be stolen or heard, each Altman work is stamped with its own irrepressible, ever-friendly brand.

The long goodbye screens from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 17 at Oloman Cafe; 10215, avenue Joseph Campau, Hamtramck. Vincent and Theo will screen at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 19 at the Detroit Film Theater; 5200 Woodward Avenue, Detroit.

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