A Prarie Home Companion

I am ashamed to admit that I've only seen 4 Robert Altman movies. Gosford Park, Cookie's Fortune, The Long Goodbye and, as of yesterday night, A Prarie Home Companion.

I liked the first one, though it left me rather cold. The second one, well, enjoyable, but I barely remember it. I loved The Long Goodbye, but mostly for its brilliant first 20-30 minutes. But I feel like it's only now that I've really discovered Altman.

See, I don't think this movie is a masterpiece. It doesn't have much in the way of a plot, there's not really any arc or tension, and only one character goes through some kind of development. But you know? You don't care. Because I wasn't watching this film because I was curious what would happen next. I wasn't watching to see if they would "save the show". I was watching because I was thoroughly enjoying hanging out with these people.

Maybe that, in retrospect, is why I couldn't get into Gosford Park. I was too focussed on the murder plot, because the characters were not likeable and interesting enough to me.

The characters in A Prarie Home Companion have as a job to make people listen, to entertain them, and they are good at it. I was so full of good will toward them after a while, that I laughed uproariously at the "bad jokes" told by Dusty and Lefty, even if they were, in all honesty, quite bad. I wanted to sing along with Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin, and I wanted to listen to the entire back catalog of shows (which can be found online, btw, so I did listen a little after the movie).

These people are storytellers, first and foremost, maybe that's why I liked them. We hear several versions of how GK got into radio, one weirder and more implausible than the other, but told without a wink, without irony. It's a competition, but it feels like the viewer is the winner.

"The death of an old man is no great tragedy"

Still, it's too bad we won't be getting more moving from Altman. Luckily for me, there are many left to discover.

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