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NYC Film Festivals

Altman Remembered at IFC Center

By Christopher Campbell

For those who missed the extensive Robert Altman retrospective at the Museum of the Moving Image last spring, or for those who can't get enough M*A*S*H or Nashville, IFC Center will present an even more inclusive tribute series for the late filmmaker beginning Friday. I have to warn you, though: They aren't screening Popeye.

Titled An Artist and a Gambler: Robert Altman Remembered, the retrospective comprises 27 films, the cable mini-series Tanner '88 and its 2004 follow-up Tanner on Tanner. Compared to the Moving Image series, which consisted of only 20 films and the two TV pieces, IFC Center's series is especially notable for its earlier, rarer Altman selections; The Delinquents, Countdown and That Cold Day in the Park haven't been shown in the city in years, and none of them are available on DVD in the States.

It might not have everything, but IFC Center program director Harris Dew told The Reeler that it was important not to wait too long to present the series. "If we'd had another six months [to plan], we might have gone in deeper into the TV work," he said. "But the problem with TV work is that it's a different universe and it requires a whole lot more ground work. Ultimately, as complete as you want to be, you're always going to be missing that student short or something, and you have to say, 'Let's focus on what we were able to include.'"

Another film not included in the tribute is The Long Goodbye. Dew said that while planning the series he discovered Film Forum's arrangements to feature a new print of the film later this year. "I didn't want to preƫmpt their showing of that," he explained, acknowledging that the New York art house circuit is "a small community, and everyone's collegial." (Dew, in fact, also used to work in repertory programming at Film Forum, so there's that.) Think it can't get any nicer? The theater is also donating a portion of the ticket sales to the Genitourinary Oncology Research Fund in Memory of Robert Altman at Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Even if Popeye must be left out (it is a guilty pleasure -- so sue me), it is good to see IFC Center concentrating on the real significance of Altman's legacy as a filmmaker. The program includes only a few of his lesser '90s works (out: Dr. T and the Women, The Gingerbread Man, The Company), more of his underappreciated '70s pictures (in: A Wedding; A Perfect Couple) and of course his most treasured classics (McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Player), with most selections paired on double bills. But Dew stresses the appeal of The Delinquents most of all. "I have never seen it," he admitted, "and it's something that is going to be great to see. It's such a different era. Its 13 years before what you think of as early Altman in that early 70s period. To see something from the late '50s and to see him working in a different vein -- the delinquent genre picture -- is going to be a really interesting experience."

Posted at January 4, 2007 11:10 AM

Comments (1)

I'm very, very annoyed that I'll be in Park City when McCabe screens, but otherwise I'm making it a goal to catch a bunch of stuff I've never seen: Thieves Like Us, California Split, Health...

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