His career may have been uneven--when he was brilliant, he was brilliant:
The Long Goodbye
Thieves Like Us
Vincent & Theo
When his work was whack, it was whack:
Dr T & the Women
A Prairie Home Companion
Yet his work was always interesting, innovative and challenging.
His 80's period of low budget theatrical adaptations (Come Back to the Five and Dime, Secret Honor, Beyond Therapy, Fool For Love, and Streamers, Basements), coupled with video and television work-the ahead-of-its-time political mockumentary Tanner 88 which remains a career milestone--exhibited the kind of fluid, off-the-cuff independent vision one might expect from a director half his age.
This period of production served him well after the Popeye debacle, and kept his sharp as he re-emerged in the 90's, first with Vincent & Theo followed by his true return-to-form masterpiece: The Player
I first saw The Player in 1992, the summer before my senior year in college.
Enthralled, I sat in the theater and watched back-to-back screenings in a single sitting. (I originally planned to stay just for that opening shot...and before you know it...I was knee deep.)
Then, the next day, I did the same thing, all over again.