on 12 January 2004
This is a great film from a golden age of American film production. It is unusual for Altman, since with about an hour of music in it you could almost call it a musical. But other typical characteristics are there, with its wonderful ensemble cast, natural filming and sound, understated sense of humour and dark overtones.
The story as it is based around 24 main characters and five days of their life in Nashville. The characters are an eclectic mix: the stalwart country institution Haven Hamilton (played wonderfully by Henry Gibson), Ronee Blakely's fragile, doomed country singer Barbara Jean, perpetual womaniser Tom Frank (Oscar winner Keith Carradine), Opal - an upper-class English reporter who never seems to really notice what's going on around her (Geraldine Chaplin) and so on.
The cast themselves wrote and sang all of the music (with considerable help from Richard Baskin). Carrdine's Oscar winning song "I'm Easy" is the one most people think of when they think of this film, but it's not the only highlight. Some of the songs are rather good in their own right - particularly "Dues" by Ronee Blakely, "Memphis" by Karen Black and "It don't worry me" by Carradine again. Others are fantastic for their earnest pomposity - particularly Henry Gibson's songs. The singing is at times patchy (most of the cast aren't singers and Altman recorded many of the songs in one take): Lily Tomlin isn't really a Gospel singer, Cristina Raines struggles a bit, and Timothy Brown doesn't have much of a voice. But by far the worst singing is also some of the most effective - Gwen Welles's as Sueleen Gay, the desperate wannabe country singer, is far the more painful and affecting to watch because she can't sing a note.
The occasional failings in the cast's musical performance make the film all the more realistic. Realism is enhanced by aligning this with the authentic Nashville locations and the fact most of the musical performance scenes don't include extras as such, rather genuine Nashville crowds watching the actors as they would any other Nashville show. As with many other Altman films it at times feels almost documentary like.
Anyone who likes Altman's style will love this film. Those who are unfamiliar would be well placed by making this the film to look out for if they want to find what the man is all about. It is rapidly becoming one of my favourite films and one that stands the passing of time. An undisputed classic.
on 24 March 2006
A perpetual womaniser sings a ballad in a club in a desperate attempt to attract a woman he has been trying to cavout for a lengthy period. We see the eyes of three women in turn, who he has had alternate flings with as their faces fill with their heartfelt desires. We see it objectively; through Altman's subtle yet unostentatious photography - that simple, yet transcendental human emotion for each other. 'Nashville' is a gourgeous mosaic of those basic human relationships, characteristics, behaviour traits, lifestyles and attitudes that form our very being.
Altman is a great director, yet unlike many of his counterparts his portrayal of his characters is not full of cynicism and disdain. He never tries to alienate his protagonists from our sympathy. Through the plethora of characters he displays here we see not only the cross-section of America society, but most likely of life itself - each character's humanity is shown without a sugar-coat, yet without a vail of misanthrophy either.
'Nashville' is a sensitive and clever film. It flows seamlessly from situation to situation, from conversation to conversation. Altman's focus is to depict each character in turn with their dilemmas and flaws, but also their redemming qualities as well.
This is an excellent film, one of the best that America's ever produced. Buy it now without delay!!!
on 10 January 2010
Ever since I first saw this film in (was it?) 1975 on a double bill with American Graffiti I loved it and it remains one of my favorite films. I'll keep this brief because others have reviewed it perfectly adequately. I'm astonished that Nashville, considered by many to be Altman's masterpiece, hasn't been released on Region 2. I wait and wait but nothing happens. I did wonder whether it would date after 35 years. I agree with Mr. Fango that Opel is very annoying, but so many of the other characters are so good and their stories interwoven so well. And it has one of the best endings ever. Watch out for Jeff Goldblum's non-speaking first role. I guess it's not to everyone's taste, especially those who just can't stand country music. (This film is too universal to be dismissed for that reason.) Also, for Mr. Fango: Dusan Makavejev's "Montenegro" is also a fave of mine. Also only available on region 1. Aaaaarrrrgh!
on 16 July 2014
After 40 years this classic finally available on DVD and only available on amazon where I live in Ireland.
This is Altmans masterpiece and the digital transfer is excellent given the films age.
Amazons delivery performance was incredible - I pre-ordered on Sunday night, the day before official release and I had it on Tuesday morning in Ireland - amazing Amazon!!!
on 11 June 2014
I'm delighted this film has finally got the release treatment it deserves. For too long it was only available on imported Region 1 from the States.
Truly ones of the top 10 American films of the 1970s, which in my opinion, is the strongest decade in film history.
Can't wait to get my hands on this set, as I own quite a few Masters of Cinema releases and they do a top job.
on 25 January 2015
Whilst my favourite Robert Altman film definitely remains "The Player", this film is a very engaging watch and it definitely has something to say.
In true Altman style, this film features an ensemble cast, no serious plot and natural/semi-improvised dialogue and this helps create a certain relaxed atmosphere, which allows you to be fully engrossed in the film and not worry too much about the plot details. Some films require you to keep your brain switched on, lest you miss some crucial detail, but in this film, you can fully relax and enjoy; I watched this for the first time last night and found that, although the film is 2 1/2 hours long, I had no overwhelming desire to know how much was left (but towards the end, with 17 minutes to go, I gave in and checked!)
A big part of the film is the music itself and here, there are many great, toe-tapping musical numbers. I was very impressed that the whole cast wrote and performed their own songs and this definitely deepened my admiration for the film. Oh, and the Oscar-winning "I'm Easy" is beautiful.
The performances are excellent, I especially enjoyed watching Henry Gibson and Ronee Blakely, and there are also some great cameos from Julie Christie and Altman "favourite" Elliot Gould.
Personally, I don't think that I fully understood the satirical elements of this film, or the jabs at popular culture so I'm guessing that a large part of the film's intention passed me by. I think that it is still possible to enjoy this film though, due to its humour, acting and music.
So, in conclusion, this is a very interesting, funny film, quite similar to "Short Cuts". It boasts a great soundtrack and wonderful ensemble performances.
Why, oh Why isn't this audacious film from Robert Altman available as a region 2, effectively barring it from the vast majority of UK audiences? Only it being shown on Sky Movies recently can I enjoy it (again....)
The 160 minutes waft on through like a distorted, strange dream, but one that is strangely highly compulsive. On my most recent (fifth?) viewing, whilst I no longer mop up every word with the earnest enthusiasm I once did, the film as a whole just gets more perfect.
Its loose structure, with ebbs and flows that are akin to one's own levels of concentration throughout a day and just when it gets a bit too comfortable, it changes tack and submerges us into another scenario, some predictable but many not. Such as the prim and naive (& annoying) lady researcher from the British Broadcasting "Company" - a glaring mistake that always annoys me - who wanders around a bus graveyard, likening them to the dinosaurs and goes off on one tangent after another, including the bars of Nashville where stand-up country singers take to the mic, with variable 'performances'....
There is absolutely no need to love, or indeed, like country music. This microcosm on this part of America at a just post Vietnam era is far less searing than Altman's later Short Cuts, but actually says more.
Nashville, to me is like a meandering river; swollen and bloated at times, pushing its boundaries at others but always serenely watchable.
Probably Mr Altman's best....
on 24 November 2009
This film,even though close to two and a half hours long,should be viewed in a single sitting. It is a wonderfully rich and varied depiction of Nashville at a particular time. There are numerous plots moving along together,and the film needs the length it is to fully describe each person or scenario. Among the numerous characters are troubled drifters, aspirant musicians, a pretentious journalist, a country music star and his wife, music business executives, a mentally-fragile singer, a grieving old man, a lonely housewife who is treated with no affection by her husband, etc. The cast is brilliant: Lily Tomlin, Henry Gibson, Karen Black, Ronee Blakely, Shelley Duvall, Keenan Wynn, Keith Carradine, and Geraldine Chaplin.
This film is one that could so easily have turned into a muddy mess of plot, but somehow it manages to move along at a good pace,giving us glimpses into the lives of all these people in Nashville, their happiness, hopes, sadness.
It works. The songs are also fun. The sarcasm of Henry Gibson's "200 years" as he sings it in a recording studio is excellent. The film is a loud,colourful and fun look at the country music capital as it was in 1976.
on 21 September 2013
As far as I know this film still isn't out on blu-ray but the German DVD (and yes, it does have the original English audio as one of the set up options) will more than do until then. And I'm not sure that a blu-ray release would add much, as the DVD picture and sound is fine as it is.
The film itself is every bit as good as I remembered. I hadn't seen it in years when I got the DVD and was worried it might seem dated, what with all those crazy 70s fashions, but apart from Elliot Gould's kaftan and Shelly Duval's "WTF is she wearing" hot pants there were no real horrors. I'm obviously giving the stage acts a pass because ridiculous Elvis style jump suits (the awesomely pompous Haven Hamilton) are permitted on stage. The songs are all of a genre rather than a period and hold up well. To be honest, the only thing that truly dates this masterpiece is Keith Carradine's throwaway comment to the soldier at the airport, which is light years away from the obligatory "thank you for your service" mantra we hear today.
on 12 November 2015
A wonderful film with twenty-four central characters that are joined together in a wonderful tapestry of music, politics, love affairs and the american spirit. I found the end surprisingly moving, as the effective comedy and melodrama of this film is in stark contrast to the tragic undertones that play out at its conclusion. Altman is certainly a wonderful auteur when it comes to this sort of movie, and by the end we are left wondering if we have seen everything in the lives of these characters, or nothing at all. Considering the age of the film, the blu-ray looks crisp and sharp without taking away any of the original film grain. The blu-ray also comes with an enlightening commentary from Altman, and an essay on the film in the included booklet, for those who want to delve even deeper into this strangely compelling and wholesome film.