Socialist surrealism

Movie director Robert Altman died yesterday. Scott, our lead art critic, is no Altman fan. He found “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” generally considered one of Altman’s masterpieces, “droopy.” And he thought that “Gosford Park,” Altman’s last highly acclaimed movie, was “Marxist drek.”
There was something Marxist about Altman’s work, which probably helps explain why I liked it so much in the 1970s. But long after I had shed my leftist worldview, I enjoyed “Gosford Park” and “The Player.”
The usual Hollywood suspects are praising Altman as a genius, the last true American director, and so forth. Notwithstanding the sources of this praise, Altman may actually have been a film genius. At a minimum, as I believe his first and most famous lefty admirer Pauline Kael said, when you left the theatre after “Nashville,” “MASH,” or “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” you knew you had seen something.

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