Altman documentary DVDDirector: Ron Mann
Writer: Len Blum
Starring: Paul Thomas Anderson, James Caan, Keith Carradine
Producer: Jill Burkhart, Ron Mann
Country: USA
Running Time: 96 min
Year: 2014
BBFC Certificate: Unknown

Robert Altman was a well-respected if not necessarily always commercially successful director whose career spanned over 40 years. He started off in TV and finally got his big break when he directed M*A*S*H* which won him the Palme d’Or in 1970 and finally gave him the recognition he had been seeking.

Narrated mostly by his wife and sons this film starts with asking what it means when something is Altmanesque. It is a testament to his influence that this is even in the film lexicon and various actors try and give us their definition of it throughout the film; disappointingly that’s the only contribution from these actors in this documentary.

Although it is an interesting whistle stop tour of his career this film despite seeing home movies, archive footage and behind the scenes stills seems a bit flat. I would have liked to hear more from his casts about his ensemble way of working; his best films used great ensemble casts; not allowing any one star to emerge.

This is a loving portrait of Robert Altman but I wished for more; it could have done with some grit, something a bit more revealing and perhaps hearing from his peers in the directing world could also have added to the scope of this project.

Worth a look from a film lovers point of view.

Altman is out now on DVD in the UK, released by Soda Pictures.

Portrait of American director Robert Altman in his home on September 26, 2005.

Portrait of American director Robert Altman in his home on September 26, 2005.

About The Author

Katy Vans grew up watching a lot of late night films at a very young age; along with giving her nightmares she also developed a love of Spaghetti Westerns and Stanley Kubrick. With a background in acting, writing, film making and journalism she describes herself as an undisciplinary artist/word thief.

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