Nashville (1975) (R)
So you've heard of "Citizen Kane" and "Casablanca" and every other classic movie, but the one that remains so aloof and yet so engrained in people's minds is Robert Altman's "Nashville". If you start looking into "the best movies ever made..." type of lists, you won't go very far before this one pops up and say hi. Well...that's curious. Who's even heard of this movie? Apparently a whole lot of people have and they all think it's the bomb. Well how do you get to watch it. You don't is the simple and ugly answer. What? Until recently when the Criterion Collection released it, "Nashville" was nearly impossible to find and now that that tangent has wound to a halt, let's talk about it.
The movie is so impossible to chronologically or narratively describe that I won't even bother. At almost three hours long, the film takes its sweet time in talking about everyone in Nashville, the city that can make or break you. There are so many different characters that pop up and so many self-referential jokes that are made that it literally would be a waste of your time if I tried to condense it all. Mainly I just don't think I can, it feels that immense.
But at the same time it's intimate. With each character having their own story arc that criss-crosses everyone else's and about a dozen main characters, it's hard to say which ones are more important than other and I think that's exactly the point.
The music is the life of the picture and what gives the music its special feeling are the characters that sing and play it. The characters care so much about the music that we have to, anything else would be a complete disaster.
We have stars and starlets, people trying to make it onto the stage, killers, adulterers, and rock stars. There are politicians, musicians, poets, and waifs...it's practically like Altman was trying to encompass an entire nation...or a city. Ah!
I can't say what the attraction for "Nashville" is, because I find these long Altman epics (see "Short Cuts") with intertwining stories to be kind of fruitless. Even at its close, "Nashville" doesn't have a lot to say besides its rather bland story...if you choose to look at it that way.
An ensemble cast, a heart breaking ode to music and country, a blistering satire, a hateful letter to America...what isn't "Nashville"?
I can't really go into detail because I'll lose myself to it.
Just know this:
"Nashville" is "Nashville". It's about the everyday and about the conversation. It's about the unique and the letdowns, the success and the bizarre.
It's about life; but that doesn't make it the best movie ever.
It is hypnotic.
Posted by Micah Jones