A Prairie Home Companion (2006)

Directed by Robert Altman

A look at what goes on backstage during the last broadcast of America's most celebrated radio show, where singing cowboys Dusty and Lefty, a country music siren, and a host of others hold court.

This dry yet bittersweet farewell film from Robert Altman is nostalgic for all kinds of earlier times. Not least a time when advertising embedded in shows felt relatively wholesome, perhaps even added something essential to the culture: products such as the local shoe shop, 'black' coffee (hah!) and the Associated Federation of Organizations... instead of addictive opoids, gigabreweries, boner pills, insincere BLM references and all of those adverts for a militaristic patriotism (dressed up as commercials for American cars) that were constantly aired around the time this film would have been in production.

As a whole, the film walks very carefully along the line of it being too cheesy, and the enigmatic angel is almost too heavy-handed a metaphor for the now-departed Altman at times (whilst Ebert sees Altman in Garrison Keillor's role), yet a few moments refute this simplistic interpretation. I nonetheless loved Guy Noir's genred description of her; reminding me of the glorious “I'm wandering in a graveyard. The dead here have no crosses, nor tombstones, nor wreaths to sing of their past glory, but lie in rotting, decaying, rusty heaps, their innards ripped out by greedy, vulturous hands" from my favourite Altman movie, Nashville (1970). But I digress…

(Not entirely unrelated: can you imagine an Altman takedown of the 45th President and his entourage...?)