robert altman

Loudon Wainwright III & Rebecca De Mornay – Hey Hey, My My (Neil Young)

Sluggers_CoverThe 80’s were unkind to many of our greats.

The Slugger’s Wife is a prime example of some super talented people getting sucked into the undertow of me-decade trends. Neil Simon, Caleb Deschanel, and the director Hal Ashby to name a few.

This vehicle makes me wish that Hal had battled through to the early 90’s, when indie film had it’s renaissance, and he could have had a revered late career surge ala Robert Altman.

Nonetheless, curiosity got the best of me when I saw this in the dollar bin (okay, two-dollar bin), and I started poring over the tracklist. I just had to hear Loudon Wainwright and Rebecca De Mornay’s version of Neil’s “Hey Hey, My My.”

Now I know.  Here it is, in all it’s tinny, reverb, programmed drum-fill glory.

Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) – Loudon Wainwright III & Rebecca De Mornay

Opening Titles: California Split


I watched Robert Altman’s California Split for the first time ever, and am happy to report that it really does lives up to all the hype. It is definitely a slow burn. Altman masterfully builds up two character sketches at once and the payoff is fantastic. 

He follows a couple of low end Los Angeles based gamblers named Charlie and Bill, played by Eliott Gould and George Segal, as they hustle around around town looking for the next sure thing.

The immediate chemistry between our two lead characters is so contrived it is almost off-putting, but that comes to a simmer as Altman subtly whittles down these men to the essence of their being. As their madcap adventures take them to the fringes of the gambling action, we watch as Gould thrives in the ups and downs of his wayward lifestyle, while the same action simultaneously gnaws on Segal’s conscience. Split in two, much like the red and blue font treatment in the title sequence.

The type itself is a bit muddy, but the sound design can only be described as. “Altmanesque.”  Many of Altman’s audio mixes were notorious for their intentionally layered nature. In his more crowd centric scenes Altman would basically mic the entire room and mix levels in post, often burying his lead actors low in the mix.In this very boisterous opening scene, I love that Altman doubles down on the aural madness by boosting the sound design to the title animations. As the type masks on the sounds of cards being shuffled into place add to the beautiful cacophony.