Friday, April 10, 2009

California Split @ the Charles Theatre this week

A new print of Robert Altman's CALIFORNIA SPLIT screens three times this week at the Charles Theatre.

SATURDAY, April 11 at noon
MONDAY, April 13 at 7pm
THURSDAY, April 16 at 9pm

1974 Robert Altman. George Segal, Elliott Gould, Ann Prentiss, Gwen Welles, Edward Walsh, Joseph Walsh, Bert Remsen, Jeff Goldblum. 108m.

A hilarious, scathing, and relentlessly playful romp, California Split conjures the essence of gambling with its improvisatory, overlapping dialogue (featuring Altman's debut of his revolutionary 8-track mixer) and loosey-goosey narrative. This wouldn't be an Altman film without the requisite hard core of cynicism, but watching the bromance develop between Split's pair of losers on a winning streak is too exhilarating to be a downer. As we watch Charlie and Bill (Elliot Gould and George Segal at their shaggy best) roll their way through the night world of poker parlors, casinos and grungy bars, the parallels between their high-stakes game of chance and Altman's high-wire act of filmmaking multiply; it's no accident that Altman himself was a risk-taker both behind the camera and at the gaming table. Among the film's glories is a cast of finely drawn supporting characters, including a pair of sweet and goofy hookers played by the divine Gwen Welles and Ann Prentice. Long unavailable for viewing save for the occasional film festival screening, California Split is just beginning to receive the attention it deserves. See it on the big screen for the big payoff. 108 m. (Linda DeLibero)