Altman's film is a celebrity performed cinema version of Garrison Keillor's
radio show - A Prairie Home Companion. Occasionally narrated by Kevin
Kline who plays a security guard named Guy Noir - another nostalgic throw-back
as an ex-private investigator temporarily out of work due to the deficiency of
both missing heiresses and tycoon's lying in the solarium with lipstick stains
on their smoking jackets. Two kind of quasi main plots - a new owner (Tommy Lee
Jones) has purchased the Fitzgerald theater (that the show broadcasts from) and
is going to tear it down while an angel (Virginia Madsen) stalks the theater to
take one of the performers and converse with a few others. Other than that we
have a wonderful plot less narrative of rapid-fire dialogue, hints of
sub-stories and character placements. Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep play the
singing Johnson Sisters, with Lindsay Lohan Streep's suicide-obsessed daughter.
Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly are a singing cowboy duo, Dusty & Lefty. And
yet the story hints that there are an endless procession of eccentric performers
giving body and soul for their craft.
It has the totally ingratiating unique style of Altman with his previous films desperately surfacing in your grey cells as you view. I think Keillor (whose work I have loved for almost 20 years) and Altman make the absolute perfect team. This is a timeless film that will have you warm and smiling for weeks after viewing. Strongly recommended.
Theatrical Release: February 12th, 2006 - Berlin Film Festival
DVD Review: New Line - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
CLICK to order from:
|Distribution||New Line Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 5.37 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, None|
by director Robert Altman and actor Kevin Kline
Altman is known to adopt certain unorthodox visual (and audio) styles and since I did not see this theatrically I can't really comment on the accuracy of the DVD image. The 'thick' look is probably intentional - the image is fairly sharp and colors look fine. It is progressive in the 2.35 widescreen ratio and, as I have read as its intent, quite dark. It looked fine on my system.
There are two tracks - a 2.0 and a 5.1 with the latter showing its superiority in occasional sequences of song and background dialogue, but for the most part the enveloping track is untested. There are optional English and Spanish subtitles.
The Altman/Kline commentary is quite laid-back and warm - much like the film itself. Production details are explored and, as with Altman, there is much to learn and appreciate. There is a healthy Featurette - Come Play With Us that explores some topics mostly based on Altman's crafting of the film. There are some unused musical pieces performed and the ability to jump to specific songs in the film.
Overall, this is a wonderful film experience. The fact that many will not appreciate it to the degree that it deserves only makes it more comforting and homey. Not for everyone, A Prairie Home Companion's nostalgic respect and references are even better than simply 'charming'. They carry some strong messages of the joy of the simplicities of life, togetherness, artistic creation, family and friends. I loved every minute - even the cynical moments.