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A Tribute to Robert Altman, in Poster Form

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire April 18, 2014 at 3:26PM

A new set of posters for nearly all of Altman's films helps see them with fresh eyes.
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Nashville

Keyframe Daily points to "It's Okay With Me," an online exhibit paying homage to director Robert Altman by creating new poster designs for many of his films. ("Rattlesnake in a Cooler" wuz robbed.) Apart from the sheer beauty of the designs, what's great is the way they, like the ones created by Sam Smith for his "Frames" column at the Dissolve, pry the films free from the context of their initial release and give them a fresh start. While some of Altman's films got better treatment than others, they were habitually, often deliberately, misunderstood, by the people promoting them. Jack Davis is a brilliant cartoonist, and his Mad-style poster for Altman's "The Long Goodbye" is a delight, but it does a terrible job of setting expectations for the film, whose humor is wry and melancholic rather than based in caricature. Look at it side-by-side with the one from "It's Okay With Me" (a title that, incidentally, comes from the diffident catchphrase of Elliot Gould's Philip Marlowe).

Long Goodbye

Obviously, you should go to the site and check out all the designs, as well as the set photos and interview excerpts. (If you're not into side-scrolling, there's a handy index as well.) There are so many great designs I'm loath to single more out, but I'm especially touched by the poster for "A Prairie Home Companion," which proved to be Altman's last film, and was made with that possibility in mind. Although Altman was already working on his next film, a fictional adaptation of the documentary "Hands on a Hardbody," when he died, he fashioned "Companion" as a contemplation of death, and was impatient with interviewers who took too long to raise the subject. The movie's about mortality as well as the end of the radio era, so it's only fitting that it be represented by the image of a lonely microphone, hanging beautifully in the darkness.

Prairie



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