Robert Altman‘s "A Prairie Home Companion" has been charming the critics at Berlin, though one has to wonder how much of that is influenced by the fact that this may well be the last film from the soon-to-be 81-year-old director. Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks at indieWIRE:
Not that any of those who cheered "Prairie" here at the Berlinale are hoping Altman will stop directing, but his age — he will turn 81 years old next week — was an issue for the backers of this latest feature. Paul Thomas Anderson was hired as a back-up director and had to be on set whenever Altman was, just in case.
"Because I am so old and ancient," Altman explained yesterday at an evening press conference, "In order to get insurance we had to have a stand by director — they thought they’d have a better picture if I croaked and P.T.A., Paul Thomas Anderson, took over" But, praising his understudy, Altman said of Anderson, "He couldn’t have been more helpful and less intrusive – a great deal of the film is due to him."
Kirk Honeycutt at the Hollywood Reporter muses that "Not since Woody Allen‘s ‘Radio Days’ has anyone created such a cinematic Valentine to the wonderfully imaginative medium of radio…Garrison Keillor, impresario, creator and host of one of radio’s longest running programs — 31 years and counting — and director Robert Altman are a match made in heaven." And Todd McCarthy at Variety is fond too, though he does point out that "The specter of death, or at least the end of something, hovers over the enterprise, but in the lightest possible way, as if to ignore it — as [Garrison Keillor’s character] ignores the theater’s impending doom — is the only possible policy."
An odd elegy, if so. David Hudson at Greencine Daily is happy just to revisit Altman’s distinctive cinematic world, but ultimately finds that the film is "an amusing 100 minutes, ranking neither with the best nor the worst of Altman’s work."
Picturehouse has attached a June 9 release date to "Companion" â€” we’ve never been particularly fond of Keillor ("Stupid TV! Be more funny!") but who can pass up a chance to see Meryl Streep pretend she gave birth to Lindsay Lohan?
+ Altman’s Latest, "Prairie"; Strand Gets "Sky"; Manson’s Movie; and Parties (indieWIRE)
+ A Prairie Home Companion (Hollywood Reporter)
+ A Prairie Home Companion (Variety)
+ Berlin Dispatch. 4. (Greencine Daily)