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American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre Presents...
Movies on the Big Screen Since 1940!
1328 Montana Avenue at 14th Street in Santa Monica

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Series Compiled by: Gwen Deglise & Chris D.

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The American Cinematheque is a non-profit 501 (C) (3) organization.
The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the newly re-opened and renovated Aero Theatre at 1328 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica and at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Barry Gerber. Aero Theatre (c) 2004.

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<<< June 7 - 28, 2006 >>>

Robert Altman Retrospective


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This Series is Exclusive to the Aero Theatre!

 

If ever there was a prototype for the quintessential iconoclastic American filmmaker, director Robert Altman fits the bill. From his tentative initial forays like THAT COLD DAY IN THE PARK to his smash successes like M.A.S.H. and NASHVILLE to his critically-acclaimed, cult sleepers like BREWSTER MCCLOUD, MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER, CALIFORNIA SPLIT, IMAGES and 3 WOMEN to his later much-lauded VINCENT & THEO and THE PLAYER and the award-winning GOSFORD PARK, Altman has had an incredibly diverse career. After repeated viewings of his films, seemingly diverse and unrelated movies become oddly connected, with similar thematic threads running through them as well as a common ground where the performers are the centerpiece. Simultaneously allowed wide latitude to do their thing, but still ultimately focusing on the goal maestro Altman has set for them, the actors achieve a kind of nirvana of simulated reality and improvised truth. Please join us for a look at, not only some of Robert Altman’s most fascinating pictures, but also a sneak preview of his latest, a cinematic adaptation of Garrison Keillor’s popular radio show, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION.

 

 

 

Wednesday, June 7 - 7:30 PM
Sneak Preview!
A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, 2006, PictureHouse, 105 min. Director Robert Altman and writer Garrison Keillor joins forces with an all-star cast to create a comic backstage fable, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, about a fictitious radio variety show that has managed to survive in the age of television. Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin star as the Johnson Sisters, a country duet act that has survived the county-fair circuit, and Lindsay Lohan plays Meryl’s daughter who gets her big chance to sing on the show and then forgets the words. Kevin Kline is Guy Noir, a private eye down on his luck who works as a backstage doorkeeper, and Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly are Dusty and Lefty, the Old Trailhands, a singing cowboy act. Add Virginia Madsen as an angel and Tommy Lee Jones as the Axeman and Maya Rudolph as a pregnant stagehand and Keillor in the role of hangdog emcee, and you have a playful story set on a rainy Saturday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, where fans file into the Fitzgerald Theater to see "A Prairie Home Companion," a staple of radio station WLT, not knowing that WLT has been sold to a Texas conglomerate and that tonight’s show will be the last. Shot entirely in the Fitzgerald, except for the opening and closing scenes which take place in a nearby diner, the picture combines Altman's cinematic style and intelligence and love of improvisation and Keillor's songs and storytelling to create a fictional counterpart to the "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show. The film uses the musicians and crew and stage setting of the actual radio show, heard on public radio stations coast to coast for the past quarter-century (and which, in real life, continues to broadcast).

 

 

Thursday, June 8 - 7:30 PM
NASHVILLE
, 1975, Paramount, 159 min. One of Robert Altman’s greatest pictures is a sprawling, nearly-out-of-control mosaic of a movie, a loosely-linked series of sagas following numerous colorful characters in Nashville on the occasion of a political convention and music festival. Somehow, as if by magic (and aided by Joan Tewksbury’s script), Altman pulls all the seemingly disparate threads together, making everything cohere in a funny, sad, poignant and exhilirating totality. The cast includes Karen Black, Ronee Blakely, Lily Tomlin, Shelley Duvall, Keith Carradine, Ned Beatty, Barbara Baxley, Gwen Welles, Henry Gibson, Robert Doqui, Allen Garfield, et. al. Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actresses (both Tomlin and Blakely). Carradine received an Oscar for Best Original Song, "I’m Easy."

 



Friday, June 9 - 7:30 PM
Double Feature:

THE PLAYER, 1992, Fine Line, 124 min. Director Robert Altman and writer Michael Tolkin mercilessly rip apart the self-important execs at major movie studios who study demographics, have story conferences, listen to writers’ absurd pitches and basically create grist for the mill, and they conjure a spot-on satire in the process. Tim Robbin’s character, named appropriately, Griffin Mill, is the kind of lowest common denominator advocate of whom it could be said, "If he ever had an original thought it would die of loneliness." After accidentally killing a writer who has been harassing him, Mill tries to cover his tracks but becomes mesmerized by the dead scribe’s girlfriend, Greta Scacchi. Simultaenously badgered at work by another exec, Larry Levy (Peter Gallagher) who is after his job, Mill gradually, hilariously unravels. With Whoopi Goldberg, Lyle Lovett, Fred Ward, Vincent D’Onofrio.

3 WOMEN, 1977, 20th Century Fox, 124 min. Director Robert Altman’s dazzlingly brilliant study of three different women who have more in common than one intially imagines, with everything from consumer culture to macho-role-playing skewered as the narrative unfolds. Clueless, but sweet Millie (Shelley Duvall), working at a convalescent resort, takes young, naive Pinky (Sissy Spacek) under her wing, and both become gradually caught up in the strange relationship between reclusive artist, Willie (Janice Rule) and her husband, Robert Fortier (who seems to be channeling Hunter S. Thompson). Fascinatingly offbeat and, at times, frightening, as the heart of the characters’ lives is stripped bare to reveal a core as empty and arid as their desert community.

 



Saturday, June 10 - 7:30 PM
Double Feature:
THE LONG GOODBYE; 1973, Sony Repertory, 112 min. Robert Altman simultaneously deconstructs the private-eye genre while somehow still remaining faithful to the spirit of the original Raymond Chandler novel (aided by screenwriter, Leigh Brackett, who helped adapt Howard Hawk’s THE BIG SLEEP). Elliot Gould is a smart-aleck, slightly inept Philip Marlowe, a detective seemingly more concerned about cat food than solving a case. He gets drawn into a labyrinth of deceptions and double-crosses by friend Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton), a beautiful rich woman (Nina Van Pallandt) with a drunken, genius writer of a husband (Sterling Hayden in a tour de force portrayal), a quietly menacing psychiatrist (Henry Gibson) and a sociopathic gangster (Mark Rydell). Altman rips aside the slick veneer of the Southern California good life revealing the smog-drenched, corrupt underbelly like few other dirctors before or since.

IMAGES, 1972, 101 min. Robert Altman filmed this slowly building psychological thriller in Ireland, treading some of the same ground as Roman Polanski’s REPULSION, but going even further out and, in so doing, creating one of the most perceptive works ever made on what it’s like to be schizophrenic. Susannah York gives an amazing performance as a children’s book writer who journeys with her photographer husband, Rene Auberjonois, to their isolated cottage for a brief vacation. But York’s difficulty telling the difference between waking dreams and reality is growing, something that puts herself and everyone around her at increasing risk. Where does her taunting, abusive French lover, Marcel Boffuzi (THE FRENCH CONNECTION) come from? Is he real or imagined? Is family friend, single father, Hugh Millais (MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER) really as lecherous as he appears to be? Is hubby Auberjonois having an affair with another woman? Or is it all in York’s head? Altman gradually creates an air of impending doom, sneaking in the clues, until we are as disoriented as York, and, in the end, just as devastated. One of Altman’s most brilliant, rarely-screened films. Introduction by cinematographer Vilmos Zigmond. TBC

 

Sunday, June 11 - 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

BREWSTER MCCLOUD, 1970, Sony Repertory, 105 min. Director Robert Altman’s achingly funny fantasy/satire on contemporaray life with Bud Cort as budding manchild, Brewster McCloud, living in a forgotten corner of the Houston Astrodome. He has a dream to fly and is constantly making efforts to that end, all under the protective tutelage of guardian angel, Sally Kellerman. However, life has a habit of crashing in on Brewster’s dreams, both in pleasant (becoming smitten with Shelly Duvall) and not-so-pleasant ways (the influx of lawmen and bureaucrats who want to bring him down). There’s mucho black humor targeting bigotry, politics and repressive conservatism, as well as playful allegory (i.e., everyone living in their own world with a self-imposed ceiling, as in an Astrodome). Especially funny is the spattering of bird excrement on Brewster’s persecutors just before they are dispatched by an unseen assassin. A one of a kind film. With William Windom, Stacey Keach, Bert Remsen. NOT ON DVD.

A WEDDING, 1978, 20th Century Fox, 125 min. Robert Altman, employing a similar patchwork quilt approach to the one he used in NASHVILLE, follows the behind-the-scenes preparations, execution and aftermath of a giant wedding between the Italian-American Corelli clan (groom Desi Arnaz, Jr, father Vittorio Gassman and mother, Nina Van Pallandt) and the whitebread Brenner family (bride Amy Stryker, father Paul Dooley, mother Carol Burnett and sis Mia Farrow). Altman effortlessly extracts the comedy and pathos from his characters, including wedding guests, Howard Duff, Geraldine Chaplin, Lillian Gish, Lauren Hutton, Viveca Lindfors, et. al.

 

 

Thursday, June 22 - 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

MCCABE & MRS. MILLER, 1971, Warner Bros. 120 min. Director Robert Altman spins fresh variations on archetypal themes and characters in a film which set the mood of 1970’s revisionist Westerns as surely as Altman sets the mood of the story, captured in the memorable opening images of an unlikely hero riding toward town accompanied by Leonard Cohen songs. An opium dream of a Western starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, with superb cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond.

THIEVES LIKE US, 1974, Sony Repertory, 123 min. Edward Anderson’s novel, Thieves Like Us was filmed before by Nicholas Ray in 1949 (his debut feature, THEY LIVE BY NIGHT) and was enormously influential on other crime movies, from Joseph H. Lewis’ GUN CRAZY to Arthur Penn’s BONNIE AND CLYDE. Here Robert Altman brings his very special worldview to this classic story of two young, Depression-era lovers (Keith Carradine, Shelley Duvall) and the ill-fated stranglehold their surrogate family of bank robbers has on them. Although Altman’s eye is compassionate, he avoids sentimentality and skillfully manipulates his deeply-etched characters, along with midwest locations, painting a portrait of an impoverished, rural America unavoidably tinged with violent tragedy.

 

Wednesday, June 28 - 7:30 PM

VINCENT & THEO, 1990, Sony repertory, 138 min. Robert Altman paints with light and color, attempting to create a simpatico atmosphere for this story of brilliant, unstable artist Vincent van Gogh (Tim Roth) and his seemingly more prosaic brother, Theo (Paul Rhys). Filmed on many locations where van Gogh painted his masterpieces, collaborating with cinematographer, Jean LÚpine, Altman weaves a gorgeous tapestry of tragic lives and moves us in the process. "An Altman masterpiece." – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone