14 March 2002 | smelt
This is only the second time I've been irritated enough to write a review, the other was "Trixie."
First of all, I'm a fan of "The Player" and of "Short Cuts," among other Altman movies. So when I was at first annoyed and angered by the beginning of this movie, I passed it off to his soon-to-come deeper agenda, which in "Dr. T..." never arrives.
I loathe this movie. Let me count the ways:
1. (Most importantly) We are led to empathize with a man who believes he loves too much, too hard, and hence, the consequences. This, if played out, would be great, as he gets his come-uppance, realizes the self-delusion and that his life and ways with women is a lie. But that's not what happens. We are supposed to feel sorry for and sympathize with him the entire way, even as he cheats, avoids true responsibility and, despite what the ending is supposed to say, never changes. Rather than the boy-birth being a sign of evolution/change/enlightenment, it debunks all that came before, in fact saying that all these women were the problem all along. Instead of being a witty examination of flawed Dallas women, it concludes with a tacked-on non-epiphany, which by its very existence makes everything before it misogynistic, and none of the characters likeable.
2. Watch how many times Altman works in gratuitous nudity, like an 11 yr. old peeping tom. When he shows Janine Turner's derriere-crack, at the end of her scene, it's not Richard Gere following it with his eyes, it's the CAMERA, as if to say, "hey, look at this" -- like a little elbow in our sides.
3. He does the same thing often at the end of scenes, swinging the camera with a wink to pick up a sign, a heavy-handed metaphor or scene-link that is beginning film school pretentious artifice at its worst.
4. The editing and cinematography again is of the film-school variety, and at often times is like a rough cut.
5. Helen Hunt, who for years has been trying to convince us she's newly "sexy," is so self-conscious that we never can buy into any kind of character. I am sick of her flinging her hair.
6. The camera holds so long on the golf sequences, as if to say - "these actors really can play golf," which they really don't very well. But it becomes a call-attention lingering as opposed to a mere setting for dialogue.
7. The overly intrusive soundtrack by Lyle Lovett may be close to the worst in history. Not only does it blot out large sequences of dialogue, and call attention to itself mindlessly at every turn, it actually has lyrics which say exactly what's going on in the scene.
8. The writing and dialogue are extremely sophomoric; very few times do the people seem real in what they're saying, and often they resort to movie cliche-speak.
9. Gere has a few good real moments, but the direction hurts him as well.
10. Altman's trademark "everyone speaking at once," in this movie is contrived and annoying.
11. (And maybe worst of all) this movie made me replay all the movies of Altman that I really like and see that many of tendencies above that I criticize are prevalent in ALL of his movies, now tempering my enjoyment of them. I now see a old lecher with a misogynistic bent and an arrested development, calling attention to his weaknesses in a pretentious and juvenile way.