Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
1 woman became 2/2 women became 3/3 women became 1
Pinky is an awkward young teen who starts work at a spa in the CA. Desert. She becomes overly attached to fellow spa attendant, Millie when she becomes Millie's roommate. Mille is a lonely outcast who desperately tries to win attention with constant upbeat chatter. They hang out at a bar owned by a strange pregnant artist and her has-been cowboy husband. After each of 2 emotional crises, the three woman steal and trade each other's personalities until they settle into a new family unit that seems to give each woman what she was searching for.
Born from a dream and sharing the same inconsistent logic, Robert Altman’s 3 Women is a strange and elusive drama exploring the transitory nature of identities. Although best known for his narratively complex ensemble dramas it is Altman’s experimental chamber pieces that provide some of his most interesting work.
As the title implies, 3 Women, is centred on the complicated and shifting relationships between three women in the Californian desert. Sissy Spacek stars as the naive Pinky, a young woman from Texas who becomes obsessed with her colleague and roommate, Millie (Shelley Duvall). Millie is a woman with a deluded sense of confidence who is blindly ignored by all those around her. The third woman in this triumvirate is Janice…
A lot of Altman's films feel like dreams to me but this was the only one literally based on one. It is also the one that by the end, appears unfinished, like all dreams, but still feels like a full journey has been taken. Altman received the green light from 20th Century Fox without a finished screenplay, only the dream idea and who would play the leads. Further evidence of how much influence was turned over to these rule-breaking maverick filmmakers in the 70s. Makes modern studio output look like the nightmarish comittee-approved, watered down, juvenile-marketed, Twilight Zoney counter-universe that we all know it has become.
I sort of wish the film ended at the 'dream' sequence. Altman remains perfectly ambiguous until then, and even had he not resolved the mystery, there would have been more than enough to draw one's own conclusions from it. It's in those final 10 minutes that the film becomes erratic and incoherent. Like Lost Highway, making sense doesn't seem to Altman's motive; but unlike Lynch's piece, the way Altman lays out the rest of the film seems to suggest it's leading somewhere concrete, leaving its resolution unfulfilling, vague, and virtually unknowable.
However, that's merely a fraction of the picture. The rest, following the eerie relationship shared between Duvall and…
the failure of an attempted escape from a self-replicating cycle of inherited behavior, a whirlpool of prescribed femininity, its transmission from generation to generation a form of psychological transference. Janice Rule fires bullet after bullet at a picture of a snake eating its own tail.
I cannot begin to fathom, let alone fashion, a proper response to such pure cinematic poetry. As with seeing STRAW DOGS and KING LEAR before it, here is another of those all too terribly rare lucid viewing experiences. Discovering this film tonight, on 35mm, makes me feel confident that more or less waiting to thoroughly investigate Robert Altman's work by way of UCLA's very near-complete retrospective is a kind of incredible (if incidental) fortune. I'll also never forget the nameless man in tonight's audience who suddenly stood up during the film's final reel, as if unable to sit, and never sat back down until the end credits. It may be nothing, it may remain unexplained, but part of me feels as if the film elicited such an intense kinesthetic response (discomfort? terror? confusion?) that - for this man - sitting was simply not an option.
I was not ready for what I just watched. A seemingly innocent tale about two roommates who don't get along turns into a weird, near psychological horror.
There are some sequences in this movie that totally throw you off (in a good way of course). It's slow but never boring. I think that's mostly due to the fact that Shelley Duvall and Sissy Spacek are both excellent. It's a pretty quiet character study for the majority of the film and then it turns and gets dark and awesome.
This is like some fucked up version of Beaches by way of the darkest psychological horror. It's like Possession but with no squid and too much tuna casserole.
What a gorgeous, bizarre, haunting masterpiece. Every bit of this film, from the visuals (particularly the shots involving water), the music, the strange dialogue and especially the excellent performances by Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall all came together so perfectly to create a beautiful dream painted onto film.
That nightmare sequence has got to be one of the most frightening, yet beautiful, sequences captured on film.
The film felt very Bergmanish (particularly Persona). It's fascinating when you compare Altman's films how each one is a new, unique experience with different influences, but the same basic directing style is present (the zoom ins, the grainy style etc).
Every time Shelley Duvall opened her mouth to speak in this film, I smiled.…
What an entrancing, strange, dreamy experience. Shelley Duvall is funny, sad, tragic. Occasionally bewildering, to great effect. A lovely film.
Fascinating performances exploring personality spaces that blur the lines between adaptation and mental illness.
PERSONA in color with a twist.
Altman's very own 'Persona'. An emphatically sensorial mind-trip about blurred identities, unresolved sexuality, birth and death.
I kinda wanna kick Robert Altman in the balls for ruining so many great scenes with that shitty-as-all-hell score. Bad boy. Altman was just watching these dramatic scenes and thought to himself, "Yes! This overwhelming jazz flute will really add to the tragedy of her character."
Other than that, it's brilliant. "Brilliant"; I hate that word. "Masterpiece", too. Dumb words. "Breathtaking". The movie's fuckin' good. Especially if you like jazz flute.
Persona New Hollywood style.
- 12 Angry Men
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- 25th Hour
- 3 Women
- Only God Forgives
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- Spring Breakers
- A Field in England
Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
- A Page of Madness
- Un Chien Andalou
- L'âge d'or
- Meshes of the Afternoon
A big collection of films that might be considered as strange, mindfucking, surreal and weird. Sorted by year. Suggestions are…