4 January 2015 | moonspinner55
Flashes of an erratic filmmaking talent...
Ron Mann's rather soft documentary on movie director Robert Altman, who amusingly was fired by Jack Warner from his first theatrical film (1968's "Countdown") because of Altman's desire to have the actors overlap their dialogue. Altman, who began as a TV writer, slowly worked his way into the director's chair for a variety of television programs such as "Hawaiian Eye," "Bonanza" and "Combat!" It was on the series "Whirlybirds" that he met his wife, actress Kathryn Reed, who would remain by Altman's side for the remainder of his life. Home movies and behind-the-scenes footage highlights this otherwise unenlightening piece, with a narrative that reads something like this: "Once he finished that film, Altman began his next picture. After it was completed, he began a new project." There are a few nice touches (such as critic Gene Shalit's colorful TV review of Altman's "Popeye"), but otherwise extremely little about how each of Altman's eclectic projects were perceived by the public. Apparently an absentee-father, Altman, who passed away November 20, 2006, is nevertheless praised by the family members who took part in "Altman"; still, it's a documentary with only a passing resemblance to documentaries. ** from ****