Robert Altman has made some films that I really did not like (Fool for Love, Kansas City, Prarie Home Companion).
But he has also put some of the most beautiful, interesting, and clever stories I have ever seen in to motion.
The three I’m going to mention here are some of the most unique movies I have ever seen and each one of them changed my perspective on the world, history, and human nature.
If you feel like expanding your horizons, put these films on and pay attention.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
Its opening scene sets the mood perfectly, the Leonard Cohan song “The Stranger Song”
plays while McCabe (Warren Beatty) rides in to town on a horse.
Landscape plays a huge part in the film, as can be seen in the opening credits. It is harsh, cold, wet, frozen, muddy, and unforgiving…like many of the characters.
And what characters they are: whores, thieves, cowboys, tycoons, opium users, and everything in between.
The film will completely absorb you if you let it and the effect is like poetry. It has some very funny moments, some surprises and twists, but the overall theme is a meditation on loneliness and death.
And I don’t think it could have been done better.
*You will want to watch this one with subtitles, I don’t know why but the sound in the beginning is so muddy that its extremely hard to understand what people are saying.
The Long Goodbye (1973)
A private eye, Marlowe, gets caught up in a web of lies, deception, violence, and threats…and seems to love every minute of it.
He is a man who understands too much, craves danger, and doesn’t seem to be scared of anything. He is a smart ass: disrespectful and brash, but also takes in every detail and yearns to find the truth in a world where everyone is self-absorbed and shady.
The plot will take you down a rabbit hole of lies, deception, and erratic human behavior.
During a couple of scenes, I felt incredibly uneasy as the portrayal of human nature and the bleakness from lack of finding meaning in life manifested themselves on screen.
But that’s when you know a film has made an impact, when it has shown you truths that are difficult to find anywhere else.
Appreciate this one for making it easy to see the dark truth that hides itself within human behavior.
Short Cuts (1993)
But 6 years before American Beauty, Altman released Short Cuts. An incredible story line (based on Raymond Carver short stories) that revolves around a cast of characters that are drifting through a seemingly normal life (for Los Angeles anyway) but are so self-delusional that they are ignoring reality.
And when each of them realizes the truth of how they are actually living, an existential crisis slaps them hard and shakes their soul.
Its a portrait of a period in time, a unique culture and place that will never be duplicated, and a perfect snapshot in to lives that are devoid of spiritual peace.
If your worldview needs to be shaken up a bit, and you want some quality entertainment and laughs while doing in, watch this film.
*This is a good one to watch with a girl, some of the male/female relationships portrayed are so dead on accurate, that laughing together is inevitable.
More Films Men Should See: