A Prairie Home Companion

Time:

  • 5pm and 8pm
  • September 8th, 2006 and September 9th, 2006

Where:

  • The Tower Theatre
  • 815 E. Olive Avenue, Fresno

Synopsis

A Prairie Home Companion is a fictionalized account of Garrison Keillor’s award-winning show, which currently runs on more than 558 public radio stations. The film follows the show’s cast of characters preparing for the final live broadcast on the eve of being shut down after 30 years. The Johnson Sisters, Yolanda (Meryl Streep) and Rhonda (Lily Tomlin), are an aging country duet who’ve survived the country-fair circuit. Yolanda’s daughter Lola (Lindsay Lohan) hopes to follow in her mother’s footsteps but when she finally gets her big break to sing with the show, she forgets the words. Guy Noir (Kevin Klein) is a down and out private eye who moonlights as the backstage doorkeeper and Dusty and Lefty, (Woody Harrelson and John C Reily, respectively) the Old Trailhands, are a cowboy duo who have also been on the circuit for years. Add Virginia Madsen as an angel, Tommy Lee Jones as the Axeman, Maya Rudolph as a pregnant stagehand and Garrison Keillor himself in the role of emcee and you have a playful story set on a rainy Saturday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, where fans file into the Fitzgerald Theater to see A Prairie Home Companion, a staple of radio station WLT, not knowing its been sold to a Texas conglomerate and tonight’s show will be the last.

Shot entirely in the Fitzgerald, except for the opening and closing scenes which take place in a nearby diner, the picture combines Altman’s cinematic style and intelligence and love of improvisation and Keillor’s songs and storytelling to create a fictional counterpart to the A Prairie Home Companion radio show. The film uses the musicians and crew and stage setting of the actual radio show, heard on public radio stations coast to coast for the past quarter-century (and which, in real life, continues to broadcast). The result is a compact tale with a series of extraordinary acting turns, especially Kevin Kline’s elegant Keaton-esque detective and Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep’s singing (“Goodbye to My Mama”) and their beautiful portrayal of two sisters who talk simultaneously.

Directed by Robert Altman
USA, 2006
105 minutes, rated PG-13

Reviews

This is a lovely marriage of two of America’s wisest cultural observers, native Midwesterners and modern Mark Twains, who value their heritage while occasionally poking it with a stick.
Jack Mathews, New York Daily News
The movie is not just enormously entertaining, it is deeply moving, both in the way it celebrates storytelling and storytellers–and in the unembarrassed way its creators and performers remind us how much we need them.
Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press
What a lovely film this is, so gentle and whimsical, so simple and profound.
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times
This is a lovely marriage of two of America’s wisest cultural observers, native Midwesterners and modern Mark Twains, who value their heritage while occasionally poking it with a stick.
Jack Mathews, New York Daily News
The movie is not just enormously entertaining, it is deeply moving, both in the way it celebrates storytelling and storytellers–and in the unembarrassed way its creators and performers remind us how much we need them.
Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press
What a lovely film this is, so gentle and whimsical, so simple and profound.
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

Every second Friday of the month, Fresno Filmworks screens first-run independent and international movies at the historic Tower Theatre.