PRIDE ON ALTMAN
Over at Movie City Indie, Ray Pride runs excerpts from an interview he did with Robert Altman for a special Gotham Award issue of Filmmaker.
An attempt to be original counts as some kind of success, doesn’t it? “Now, if you see anything original, you won’t see it [out there for] very long. It’s time turtling on. These kids… they don’t understand anything else. There’s so much saturation. There’s not a policeman today who didn’t learn his behavior from watching films or television. We all imitate each other.” Does Altman ever think he’s imitating himself? “It now occurs to me they’re all chapters of the same book. My fingerprints are all over them. Whatever I do, I can’t not do it.”
I shift the conversation to a few elements of production, asking if he ever felt any kind of fear on the way to the set in the morning anymore? “Fear? No. Concern, to some degree. It’s difficult, there are so many elements. One element goes wrong, you have to constantly readjust. I have to say it’s anxiety, not fear.”
Have your budgets always been adequate? “I’ve never been short. On any of those films, if I had an extra week, I don’t know what I would have done with it. I set my own schedules. I don’t always have all the actors, I don’t have the access to the money to pay certain actors who won’t work at a certain special effect, things like that. But that just means I have to be a little more creative. I like that.”
Ringing off, I mention I like the similarities between Cookie’s Fortune and the work of the cinema’s great humanist, Jean Renoir (whose Rules of the Game was the acknowledged template for his later Gosford Park. “All these tags are beyond me,” he says. Well, I joke, I guess it’s your job to do the work, and the job of the journalists is to put your art in a shoe box, I joke to the man who said Hollywood made sneakers and he made gloves. I can almost hear a smirk down the phone line. “Yeah, to put my gloves in a shoe box.”