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MoMA kicks off a massive Robert Altman retrospective

David Ehrlich

When describing his long and illustrious career, the late and legendary Robert Altman was known to say "It's all just one film to me, just different chapters." Thanks to MoMA's intimidatingly comprehensive retrospective of the filmmaker's work, which begins tonight and runs through January 17, New Yorkers will get a chance to read almost the entire book. Comprised of more than 50 titles that run the gamut from Altman's revered masterpieces to his rare early films and the seldom seen oddities that peppered his career, the thoroughness of MoMA's series (which is titled simply "Robert Altman") illuminates the dexterous curiosity that made the director a true American iconoclast—and so much more than just that guy who used a lot of overlapping dialogue in his movies. Indeed, the series is so detailed and extensive that it's hard to do it proper justice in this space, but here are our picks. (Head on over to MoMA's site for a full rundown of what they've got on tap.)

The Long Goodbye. How much you’ll enjoy this Raymond Chandler spoof depends largely upon how well you’re able to roll with Altman’s wry deconstruction of the private-eye genre. Elliott Gould stars as the man with the coolest apartment in Los Angeles, an apartment that can now be yours if you have $2,8000/month to drop on a 1br. Fri 12 at 7pm, Sun 14 at 3:30pm 

McCabe & Mrs. MillerFrom the hypnotic opening-title sequence (set to a Leonard Cohen number) to the arresting final shootout, Altman's typically rambling Western is an unqualified masterpiece. Wed 10 at 7pm

Nashville When people refer to a multicharacter movie as “Altmanesque,” it’s generally this brilliant mosaic that they’re thinking of—24 major characters involved in a political rally vie for screen time, and all, incredibly, make a lasting impression. Fri 19 at 7:30pm

Secret Honor Long before Paul Thomas Anderson made him a household name (at least among film buffs), Philip Baker Hall wowed those who saw his stunning performance as Richard Nixon in his one-man show, which Altman skillfully adapted into a movie. Sat 27 at 7:30pm, Tue 30 at 4pm

3 Women Altman’s strangest, most hallucinatory movie stars Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall, plus comparative unknown Janice Rule, as the titular females; unfortunately, words cannot adequately describe their bizarre interactions. Wed 17 at 7:15pm, Sat 20 at 4pm

Click here for full information, titles, showtimes and tickets. 


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