There is an idea of America as one long night.

The opening minutes of Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye, released in 1973, are my favourite stretch of film from the decade. They do what all great movies do: give more than the story is telling, and take us through a series of moments, allowing us to sleepwalk through a place we’ve never been, and a time that could only ever exist once, one way. It’s a dream. It’s full of energy. It’s entirely beaten-down and hopeless. It’s lively with pulpy thrills. …


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