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popbytes on ‘a prairie home companion’

popbytes on ‘a prairie home companion’
June 8, 2006 MICHAEL KNUDSEN



hey kids! i just got back home – gosh it’s been a busy week! i saw a scanner darkly tonight and i am still kinda tripping out on it…i think i need to see it again! expect an extended review as it draws closer to the film’s release date! (july 7th)



this past monday night i had the chance to catch a prairie home companion which opens tomorrow (friday) overall i really enjoyed the film! it has director robert altman‘s prints all over it – kinda loose and very ‘talky’ with tons of characters – each scene well acted with many hints of improv by a cast of amazing actors & actresses – including youngins lindsay lohan & maya rudolph alongside such seasoned veteran ladies like meryl streep, lily tomlin, virginia madsen, and marylouise burke! the amazing guys include kevin kline, john c reilly, woody harrelson, and tommy lee jones – the extraordinary large ensemble cast is really the heart of the film! props to ms. lohan who was totally able to hold her own against streep & tomlin and what is there to say about ms. rudolph except she is a comedic gem!



the film is fictionally based around a very non-fiction radio show called a prairie home companion which debuted on radio waves july 6th 1974 and has been a steady staple since on over 550 public radio stations! i am so ashamed to admit this but i hadn’t ever really heard of the program until i saw the film – so i am going to make sure to tune in very soon! yet i think having seen the film without knowing the program gave me a fresh slate to take in all the music (i must pick up the enjoyable toe tappin’ soundtrack), wacky characters, and overall vibe!



the screenplay (i smell oscar nomination) was written by real life ‘companion’ host garrison keillor who also stars as ‘gk’ – a character based upon himself – all of the songs & ditties used throughout the movie were ‘americana’ at its best! then combined with altman’s witty directorial style and use of improvisation equal out to a really sentimental warm slice of cinema! i don’t think it outshines some of altman’s more prolific films (nashville, mash, gosford park, the player, and my favorite 93’s short cuts) but it is way better than let’s say 94’s ready to wear – which has a great soundtrack but is still one of the worst movies i ever saw! so i think altman fans will for sure take to his latest film and god bless him at the ripe age of 81 – he still has it!



i am very curious to see how fans of the show react to the movie – my pal brent at work actually just caught the live ‘companion’ show when it swung by here at the hollywood bowl about a week ago and he hails from ohio (apparently the show is a big mid-west thing) – so i must hear what he has to say…i’m not sure how it will go over on die-hard fans of the show – it’s a very arthouse kinda flick but in the end is a great affectionate tribute to radio days gone by…even though ‘companion’ is still on it’s one of the last shows of its kind…a little sad in this day of way too much TV…gosh – public radio here i come! popbytes over & out for tonight – check you all tomorrow!