Matthew Cooper Director looks back on The Long Goodbye

I’m quite near to a first cut on my second feature film as a director – the low budget horror ‘At The Mountains of Madness’ and I’m pleased to say it’s coming together nicely.  There have been a few surprises in the edit suite, but nothing too bad, so that’s good.

As a break this week I watched Robert Altman’s ‘The Long Goodbye’ his hip 70s, update on Phil Marlowe.

I’m an Altman fan, chiefly because of this film – and ‘McCabe and Mrs Miller’, ‘The Player’, ‘MASH’ and ‘Gosford Park’ are all great too.  That’s a handful of very interesting and original movies right there. I’d say McCabe is my favourite. There are few westerns like it, and Warren Beatty has never been better.

But Altman made a ton of films, a lot of them hard to see, or considered disasters. He himself said that he just carried on doing the same thing, sometimes the films hit, and sometimes they didn’t.  Sometimes the films didn’t work themselves and he knew it. 

Altman was a gambler, and made a very good film about gambling called ‘California Split’. He also knew that filmmaking, like gambling, depended a lot on luck.  Sure, skill and know how is involved, but luck too.  And when the films didn’t work, it was down to luck, the same as when everything came together and you’d shot a masterpiece like McCabe.  

So, on my second film as a director, I’m slowly learning that being lucky sometimes helps.  I’m sure Altman will tell you he worked as hard on the films that didn’t work as on the films that did. And I’m sure that’s true, and other directors will tell you the same.

‘The Long Goodbye’ works, it transcends the detective genre, it’s funny and cool and sad as well.  It’s Jazzy. The camera slips and slides, Elliot Gould is doing his own thing in scenes, listening to another beat. This whole thing could come crashing down around the story and crush the film, but luck keeps it together. And some directors are luckier than others.

As well as being a freelance film director for hire, Matthew has also enjoyed a long career as a script writer for hire he’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer.

Matthew’s directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham was released in 2020

You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb You can find out more about Matthew’s work as a director here.

Comments are closed.