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Today, Kevin, Cassandra and I went to go see A Prairie Home Companion. I had heard some mixed reviews of it, but most of them were good. My dad and I had a conversation before about Robert Altman movies. "Altman movies are for people who have brains," dad said, "and he makes us use them." If you've seen any of Altman's other movies, especially Godsford's Park, you know this is true.

A Prairie Home Companion is a wonderful movie about accepting death and being apreciative of the time you have. "Is this really the last show?" asks one character to Garrison Keilor. "Every show is the last show," he replies. The movie is about saying goodbye and about letting go. About enjoying what you had and cherishing those memories. Also - it's about the midwestern philosophy that just because something is bad doesn't mean you have to dwell on it. You just keep going.

Altman does ensomble pieces, which not a lot of people are used to. Most movies have a set plot, follows one or two characters through a very easy to follow story arch. In Altman movies, there isn't one character to follow, there isn't one story line to pay attention to. His movies are about finding the theme and finding how the characters interact with each other. So really, Robert Altman movies AREN'T for everybody. It's a different style of story telling that appeals to some, but not to everybody. But it was simple and sweet movie, with wonderful acting, fabulous writing, and amazing music.

Life doesn't always end with a happy ending. Sometimes there aren't last ditch efforts to save a show or a big ta-da with a fanfare at the end. Sometimes, it just ends. As the dangerous woman said "There's no tragedy when an old man dies."
"PHC" the movie wasn't anything like "PHC" the radio show and that was disappointing. I was hoping for more stories and fewer songs. I probably would've skipped it if I'd known it was going to be a musical revue.
But the story was the movie, and the same writing of the show was that dialog between actors and actresses behind the scenes. The pompus Guy Noir, the stage hands, The sisters and Garrison himself were all stories that you would find on a show.

Also - the music reflected what was going on at the time. It wove in with the story and added to it.

Personally, if the movie had just been a taped version of the show, I would have found it boring. You can hear the show anytime, The movie blended the aspects of story telling with the music of the show - which, if you hear earlier shows, really is one of the most important parts.
Maybe, but the thing which makes "PHC" unique is the stories. There aren't very many people telling stories about regular people and small towns anymore. It's all huge explosions and talking cars. This is also what I liked about "Elizabethtown" in retrospect.
So you missed the whole story back stage, then?

What it sounds like is that you wanted a story of Lake Woebegone, set in the city, about those people, and not a movie about the lives of the people who put on radio shows.
No, I got the story going on backstage. It wasn't exactly "Short Cuts". I just wasn't as interested in it as I would've to hear a story in the show. Or maybe in lieu of one of the songs.

Interesting that the last two of Altman's movies ("The Company" being the other) are about what goes on behind the scenes in showbiz. In this world of sensational reality television and banal made-for-primetime documentaries, is Altman trying to tell the truth by dramatizing it? I can't speak for the man's motivations. But it certainly seems so.
If I'm not mistaken, Altman also directed "The Company." The way one used brains in that movie was to discover the option on the DVD to play only the dance scenes and skip everything else. The underlying stories were awful and I loathed each and every character. The dancing, however, was pretty darn cool.
for his birthday, eric got a couple of movie passes from one of his friends, and when i move out there, we'll probably use them to go see phc. i'm really looking forward to it, as i dig altman in general. i *like* movies that make me use my brain (for me, there's hardly ever such a thing as "mindless entertainment," 'cause i'm weird like that), and i dig the old radio stuff and old-timey things in general, so i'm betting that eric and i will enjoy it very much. thanks for the positive review--it just reinforces my desire to go see it. :-)
Do you want to go to Target with me and Steph tonight to shop for someone having a thing tomorrow? Let me know.
I am all about that - shall I meet at your place or at steph's? I get done with work at 5:30
Want to meet at my place at 7:00?
sure thing! See yas there :)