Saturday, November 12, 2005

Charlie's Earth Angel

Sacha made me think of something. Ten minutes into Altman's Dr. T & The Women. A ritzy Houston mall. Feathered women mill about. Tara Reid and Kate Hudson are at Tiffany's with their mother, Farrah Fawcett. A few minutes later, they look around: Mom's missing. She hasn't been quite herself lately. They rush out, she's nowhere in sight. Altman discreetly pans to a store sign: Guess. Cut to Farrah, who's dressed in brown like some wood nymph. Spaced-out, floating. Kicks off her brown shoes. Shakes loose her earth-colored sweater, drops it. (She's outside: Timberland.) Next thing, she's climbing into the fountain. Disrobing. Splashing about like Anita Ekberg. Starkers, a mermaid-child. Women gather about, incredulous, giggly, outraged. Altman quietly pans up: Godiva, Chocolatier.


Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Commentary or product placement?

November 12, 2005 11:56 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Peter, here's my take.
Since no other Altman films are rife with product placement, it's unlikely that this was the case here.
And even if it was, it's a brilliant example of co-opting or appropriating an economic/production factor and bending it to an explicitly cinematic purpose. It adds metaphor and wit to the scene, making it memorable.
Either way, it's pretty cool.

November 13, 2005 7:18 AM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

There are some wonderful extended scenes in McCabe & Mrs. Miller with little or no dialogue, especially near the end.

Girish, you've just reminded me of one of my favorite things about movies: scenes which say something important but all through visuals. Fresh is one of my favorite films for this, though it's far from one of my favorite films. I love the building of the city at the beginning, the can off the railroad tracks, the final chess game shown....

November 13, 2005 10:02 AM  
Blogger girish said...

You hit the nail on the head, Monsieur Tuwa.
The single most fascinating thing about movies for me is exactly that: it's a primarily visual medium. And too few movies acknowledge/exploit that enough.

I remember liking Fresh, oh so long ago.

November 13, 2005 11:47 AM  
Anonymous dvd said...

I never actually saw Dr. T, for some reason, so I don't know if the film was actually set in Houston or not; but it was shot in Dallas, and that mall is the Northpark mall, a few miles from my house.

It's a given whenever I'm casting a film that just about every actor will have that film on their list of credits (as an extra), along with Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday (heck, even I was an extra in that one).

November 13, 2005 10:41 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh that's pretty neat, David!
Had no idea.

November 14, 2005 7:59 AM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

I really dislike Dr. T. It may be my least favorite Altman film (and I generally like his work), but his play with signs and images has always been fun, and you've made this scene slightly more interesting, especially as a re-appropriating of mall discourse.

In The Player, of course, movie posters, marquees, and billboards are used to tell the story in all kinds of creative ways (and we get a little of that even in Short Cuts).

November 14, 2005 2:29 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Good point about The Player, Chuck. I had forgotten about that.

November 14, 2005 2:52 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I must have walked past this film a hundered times back when I was still getting my movies from the video shop, never realizing that it was an Altman film. Will have to give it a spin this weekend; even if it is one of the weaker in the Altman canon, its still Altman and therefore worthy of at least one viewing. Thanks for the post.

November 14, 2005 3:44 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Yes, Brian. It's not one of the stronger Altmans for sure but I liked it much more than the reviewers did at the time. It is unmistakably an Altman film, and (warning) has a strong, provocative ending that a lot of people hated...

November 14, 2005 4:46 PM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

Oh, I wanted to see this one! but I do remember many visual jokes in "The Player" and also in "Short Cuts." Altman is that rare director who has expressive visuals but also manages literate, layered dialogue in most of his films.

November 15, 2005 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Dr T, I wonder why he chose Farrah for this part? Was it because her famous appearance on Letterman ? Don't get wrong I think Farrah is a talented actress, but I don't think the timing of this role was good for her.

November 18, 2005 7:21 PM  

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