Is Robert Altman's adaptation of an array of Raymond Carver works a critique of toxic masculinity? Probably not purposefully, but it works. We've got about a dozen male characters whose problems almost all stem from their objectification of women, their sense of entitlement to women, or their resentment of the sexuality of the women in their lives. It's basically Bad Middle Class White People: The Movie, too, so there's that.
Robert Altman spent the 80's teaching film at the University of Michigan and being ignored by Hollywood. Or exiled? Or was it self-imposed? It's open to interpretation.
Anyway, while there he got really into theatre and started filming plays, among them the Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone play Secret Honor starring, like the stage play, Philip Baker Hall as a washed up, paranoid, suicidal Richard Nixon. While the personality on display here may be true to life, the film is not meant to be realistic, presenting a Bohemian Grove-led conspiracy to take over the US using Nixon's presidency as the impetus behind Watergate. Hall's performance is one of the best pieces of acting we've seen, up there with Renée Jeanne Falconetti in Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc.
Robert Altman had a weird career, ok? While this is the first of his films we've seen for Lost in Criterion, Pat and I have seen a number of his films throughout our lives and there's no real pattern: M.A.S.H., Popeye, Gosford Park -- there's no real through-line even stylistically. Even so, 3 Women (1977) seems like an outlier: a small town identity theft drama/dream.