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Nashville


Director Robert Altman really hit his stride in 1975 with the rambling, brilliant piece of Americana that is NASHVILLE.

Altman's camera looms everywhere, dropping us into the everyday lives of a huge cast. It's a tribute to his direction and the great screenplay by Joan Tewkesbury (Thieves Like Us) that we are never confused or overwhelmed as quirky character after character is introduced.

Lily Tomlin is a superb Mom, juggling work and her teenage children, while struggling with boredom in her marriage to Ned Beatty.

Country Western star Tom Frank (Keith Carradine in his all time best performance) seemingly beds half of Nashville, while female superstar Barbara Jean (terrific Ronee Blakley) suffers a nervous breakdown and struggles to regain her footing during several big stage appearances that drive the storyline.

Every actor had to write and perform their own songs for the film, it was a mandate from Altman. They do surprisingly well. Carradine won an Oscar for his song "I'm Easy". His character Tom says plenty with those lyrics, there's more depth to Tom thah he'd ever reveal.

Karen Black, Allan Garfield, Scott Glenn, Jeff Goldblum, Barbara Harris and Michael Murphy all craft players you'll remember, while Henry Gibson (Laugh-In) shows comic & dramatic chops as diminutive country star Haven Hamilton.

Shelley Duvall was Altman's strange muse, just as she had been in his previous three films. She crafts a completely unsympathetic young woman here, as her grandfather Mr. Green (Keenan Wynn) struggles for days to get her to see her grandmother as she lays dying in a hospital.

That hospital, the Grand Ole Opry stage and a huge political rally all serve as story magnets to bring the diverse cast of players together, where they interact in hilarious, dramatic and in some cases deadly ways.

Altman's 160 minute opus is a send-up and a tribute to all that's unique, embarrassing, terrific and terrifying about America.

Shot mostly in sequence and to a great measure improvised, there's a lot to discover on multiple viewings.

Nominated for Best Picture, Director and Blakley & Tomlin both for Best Actress, both Siskel & Ebert named it their best film of 1975.

It's a hilarious modern classic with a very sad underbelly. NASHVILLE truly sings, earning an A.

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