Often recognized as a maverick within the Hollywood system, during a time when everyone was a maverick trying to reinvent the American industry just as it had creatively bottomed out, Robert Altman was truly a filmmaker of his own making. Preceding his New Hollywood contemporaries by about a generation, Altman fought in World War II and made his directorial debut in the ’50s, before moving on to hone his craft in television. Over time, Altman would become known for his naturalism as a filmmaker, utilizing a detached camera and improvisational, overlapping dialogue to give his films a sense of realism relatively unknown to the American scene. He had an innate sense for social critique, beginning with his breakout success M*A*S*H in 1970. But you can see this style reveal itself even before this career-defining work, as Altman the director was seemingly born just the year before with That Cold Day in the Park (1969). From the beginning to the end Altman remained an individual talent. Even in his earliest efforts a uniqueness remains potent, despite any efforts to eradicate his voice from the picture. So much so, that by the time of Brewster McCloud (1970), you could confidently say nobody else had neither the skill, nor the gall, to make such a film.
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