altmanThere's a great piece in The Guardian today in which Peter Bradshaw ruminates on the news that Robert Altman will soon direct at the Old Vic. While initially one's only concern about the play might be Altman's health and if he'll have a stand-by director on hand (like he has for A Prairie Home Companion), Bradshaw realizes that the appointment is actually full of unknowns.

Most significant among the issues Bradshaw sees is that Altman's signature style is based largely on improvisation. Traditionally, he gives his actors a vague idea of what is going on in a scene, turns the cameras on, and lets them have at it. Sometimes he ends up shooting side conversations in close-up, turning actors who didn't even know they were in-shot into the stars of the scene. Additionally, Altman's films are filled with overlapping dialogue - it's practically not one of his works if you don't have to make a conscious choice about who to listen to, and then really work to hear his words. None of this, however, is going to work in his new gig. He's going to have a script. He's going to have patrons in the back row who bloody well will want to be able to understand what's being said. One assumes that Altman is sophisticated enough to know that, when transplanted onto the mainstream stage, his traditional approach will be a complete disaster. It will be fascinating to see what he comes up with.
categories Movies, Cinematical