21 November 2006

In 1972, Pauline Kael wrote:
Robert Altman is almost frighteningly nonrepetitive. He goes out in a new direction every time, and scores an astonishing fifty percent—one on, one off. M*A*S*H was followed by Brewster McCloud, and McCabe & Mrs. Miller has now been followed by Images. I can hardly wait for his next movie.
Altman's next movie after Images, it turns out, was The Long Goodbye, which goes a long way towards explaining why this guy had the most interesting career in American movies. When he directed M*A*S*H, he was already in his forties, and I guess I assumed that he would be around forever. I never thought I'd see the day when there wouldn't be another Altman movie around the corner, but I suppose that day had to come.

(On the other hand, there are approximately twenty-five post-M*A*S*H Altman movies that I still haven't seen, which makes me feel a little better. As David Thomson once wrote, "There is nothing like knowing that one has still to see a body of great work. And no gamble as interesting as pushing the desire to its limit.")

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