Film as tick list. A perfunctory - to say the most - chronological listing of Altman’s career which supplants insight with brevity (some of the apparently more minor films brushed aside with fleeting mention - the animated illustrations are egregiously annoying). The spousal voiceover and home movies are welcome; the talking heads and cursory attention paid to almost everything else are not.
Better than De Palma, because it involves more people, but also kinda inferior to De Palma, due to Altman's lack of involvement. Still, can't blame them for that. Best parts are hearing about how Altman got into arguments with executives over how people talked.
Will help you if you want to remember what films Robert Altman made and you don't have an internet connection (or appropriate print resources). Can you even begin to imagine the amazing, crazy, wild-ass stories circulating about Altman out there in the world? Mann's doc features exactly zero of them. I am reminded of the gloss Juliane Lorenz has done on Fassbinder. I was at least able to get some warmth off it.
Other than reinforcing what was already known, namely that Robert Altman was partial to genre subversion, Mann's documentary achieves very little, just about scratching the surface of a career that never failed to surprise in it's delivery of cinematic curiosities. Could have and should have run for a least a further 45 minutes - nevertheless it's a enjoyable skim through a filmography spanning fifty years.
Maybe 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. While I learned a lot about Altman from this documentary, I feel like I was short changed considering how much of a titan I hear the man was. The story just seemed to jump around skimming the surface then spending the last 20 minutes leading up to his death. Another 45 minutes and some more meat would've made a big difference.
Brevity is the enemy against Ron Mann's documentary on Robert Altman. Moving far too briskly the doc skims through a storied career barely allowing anytime for tales to be told. The talking heads (a who's who of Altman's stock company) only get to answer their definition of 'Altmanesque". Skips from film to film, ignoring some and not delving deep enough into others. Frankly, a disappointment on such a subject.