Thursday, July 06, 2006

When Radio Was

A Movie Review

Stylistically in the Altman realm while at the same time quite true to its source material, A Prairie Home Companion is doubtlessly one of the more unusual mass-market releases of 2006. A movie adaptation of something you might at first think unfilmable, Prairie brings to the screen Garrison Kellers long running public radio series within a semi-fictitious context. The premise of the movie is that the elderly couple who have long produced Prairie Home Companion are retiring and have sold out to a large Texas corporation, which is sending its representative (Tommy Lee Jones as a born-again 'Axeman') up to Minnesota to shut down the program, and turn its base of operations (the historic Fitzgerald Theater) into a parking lot.

The action of the movie takes place just before and during the broadcast of what is likely to be the final episode of APHC, alternating between what's 'on the air' and various goings on back stage, there is also a brief less then five minute long epilogue to the film that takes place several years later. Like a highly scaled back and condensed version of Altmans Nashville the film follows a group of about 10 central characters most of which are played by big-name stars. Keillor plays himself in the film and many of the radio shows regulars also appear as themselves, including Tom Keith the programs trademark sound effects guy. Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep play Rhonda and Yolanda Johnson, sisters who are all thats left of a 'Carter family'-type musical group. Lindsy Lohan plays Yolanda's death-obsesed daughter Lola. John C. Reilly and Woody Harrelson are Lefty and Dusty, two cowboy singers who enjoy slightly risquey lyrics. Maya Rudolph from SNL is a pregnet production assistant named Molly, and Virginia Madsen is a deceased former fan of the show who has returned as an 'angel of death' to claim the life of elderly singer Chuck Akers (L. Q. Jones). Kevin Kline plays the radio programs 'Guy Noir' character as a real person, forced to give up detecting (due to lack of clients) and serve as head of security for the program.

This movie is slow and not for everyone, if you don't like Kellers radio program then watching this movie would only put you through 105 minutes of hell. I however did like, if not love the picture, and left the theater feeling quite reflective. A Prairie Home Companion is a reflection on death, both literal and figurative, and is one of the most melancholy films made in years.


"Oy with the poodle's already", last night I finished Gilmore Girls season two. What more can I say about the program that I haven't said about the first season, its just a really enjoyable show, richly developed, witty, full of likeable characters, and totaly enveloping. The first disc or so pretty much wraps up the major lose strings from last season, most notable of which is Lorelai's (Lauren Graham) brief engagement to Rory's (Alexis Bledel) teacher Max Medina (Scott Cohen). The narrative thrust of this season is largely focused on Lukes troubled nephew Jess Mariano (Milo Ventimiglia) and a well handled love triangle that develops between him Rory and Dean (Jared Padalecki). This is also the season of the Edward Herrmann characters brief retirement and return to the business world as an insurance consultant. Gilmore Girls season 2 builds well on the first and has me excited about the third.


Post a Comment

<< Home