Believe It or Not

Two films pay tribute to Altman and Palance

One of Miami's legitimate cultural treasures, the Miami Beach Cinematheque, defines itself with the word escapism. Two current projects take that idea to its ultimate, um, conclusion. Robert Altman, a key figure in America's auteur movement of the late Sixties and early Seventies – who, unlike, say, Dennis Hopper, didn't end up making TV commercials for money -- is being celebrated all month. This Saturday evening at 8:30 the Cinematheque screens The Long Goodbye, in which Altman turns Raymond Chandler, and most murder-mystery fiction, upside down and inside out. It's a prime example of how Altman, who died one month ago of leukemia at age 81, was able to make accessible movies without surrendering an iota of his "indie" sensibilities (compare M*A*S*H, Nashville, Harold and Maude, and Vincent & Theo to works by William Friedkin, Hal Ashby, or, yes, even Hopper). Sure, Altman made mistakes (Popeye), but risk takers always do. The Cinematheque's tribute, Goodbye, Altman, Goodbye, is the perfect setting for an Altman film that cleverly puts Elliott Gould in a role blueprinted by Bogart.

And also dead: Jack Palance, one of the coolest actors (compare: Harry Dean Stanton, John Carradine) ever. (He's the guy who accepted an Academy Award at age 73 by doing one-handed pushups onstage.) Perhaps best known for his Oscar-winning turn in 1992's City Slickers (with Billy Crystal, who, as host, milked Palance's pushups stunt for more than it was worth). Palance started out as a coal miner, became a boxer, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his third film, Shane. He died at age 87 on November 10. The Cinematheque shows Palance in Jean Luc-Godard's 1963 nouvelle-vague film Les Mépris (Contempt) tonight at 8:30. Tickets cost six to ten dollars. Call 305-673-4567, or visit www.mbcinema.com.
Dec. 22-23
 
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