Jump to content
JulyDiaz

Nashville

Nashville  

10 members have voted

This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1. Does "Nashville" belong on the AFI list?

    • It must be doin' somethin' right to last 200 years!
      6
    • Oh my God, how awful. It's so depressing.
      4

  • Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.
  • Poll closed on 08/16/19 at 07:00 AM

Recommended Posts

Paul & Amy sing the praises of 1975's sprawling country opus Nashville! They compare Robert Altman's loose technique to the perfectionist auteurs of past Unspooled movies, find further parallels to Quentin Tarantino's latest, and learn what real Nashvillians thought of the film. Plus: Screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury shares her inspiration for the film's story.

 

What would you do for the Maltese Falcon? Call the Unspooled voicemail line at 747-666-5824 with your answer! Follow us on Twitter @Unspooled, get more info at unspooledpod.com and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts. Photo credit: Kim Troxall

Share this post


Link to post

I don't know if this is relevant for why the national anthem was part of the campaign, but Robert Altman was 6 when The Star-Spangled Banner was designated the US's national anthem.

Though The Pledge of Allegiance came even later (and the "Under God" change came when he was 29), and that isn't mentioned. So it may have been more something in the zeitgeist at the time. 

Share this post


Link to post

I guess the closest thing to Nashville that The Simpsons ever did was the Lurleen Lumpkin episode. (It's not a direct parody and the casting of Beverly D'Angelo suggests Coal Miner's Daughter.)

Her songs are a lot more obviously about one person than Keith Carradine's too.

 

Share this post


Link to post

They said something at the end of the episode to the effect of , “If you’re going to an Altman film on the AFI list, why not Nashville” so I can only assume both Amy and Paul share my negative opinion of MASH :P 

For me, I thought Nashville was fine, but I was not nearly as blown away as they were. I don’t believe that means I need a cleanly plotted film, just that very few of the hooks Nashville cast reeled me in. 

Also, I wasn't particularly by the boarding house assassin and was expecting the shooting from relatively early. Perhaps that’s because I didn’t see a young Steven King, but rather Mark David Chapmen (John Lennon’s assassin). It blew my mind that this five years earlier or I would have said it was referencing Lennon’s murder.

However, despite my lack of interest overall, I get how someone with an improv background, like Paul, would want to be a part of a movie like this. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I wasn't super enamored of this movie the first time I watched it, but it has gotten better every time I've returned. Now I think it's a near-masterpiece.

I'll say this: I think the film announces its intentions fairly clearly at the start, with the way the cast is introduced. It's a big cacophony with overlapping words and music, while the names are read off alphabetically, no emphasis on narrative importance or size of role. I think that should prime you for the idea that this won't be a film with a focus on plot or narrative. Then the opening is just tracking the politician's van driving through the town and delivering slogans, indicating that this is going to be a "wandering" kind of experience.

What helps me stay interested is that within the scenes Altman's camera does a lot to help focus your attention. Look at where he zooms in, when he decides to glide from one face to another, how people are placed within the frame to guide your eye to one face in particular (the silent Lily Tomlin during "I'm Easy" is probably the best example). Controlled chaos. I'm not sure any other filmmaker does it like this.

I can see an argument for another Altman movie, but I'm not sure any other is quite so emblematic of his particular style as this one?

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

I guess the closest thing to Nashville that The Simpsons ever did was the Lurleen Lumpkin episode.

22 Stories from Springfield seems like it may have been influenced too

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, AlmostAGhost said:

22 Stories from Springfield seems like it may have been influenced too

My memory is hazy, but those were more discrete and each story usually had a distinct main character.

I think Short Cuts is the main Altman I haven't seen, but I think that one might be more similar. 

Nashville is more fluid and as memory serves (I'm only partway into this rewatch and it's been a couple of decades), you aren't left with the sense of "this is the central character."

Paul said the movie is more character-driven rather than plot driven, but I'd posit it's societal-fabric driven, which is composed of a lot of individual units coalescing into a messy whole.

As primed by the beginning song focusing on the state of America.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
31 minutes ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

I think Short Cuts is the main Altman I haven't seen, but I think that one might be more similar. 

Yes, I think that one is more like the Simpsons episode. But I suppose you could say Short Cuts was also primed by Nashville.

Share this post


Link to post
30 minutes ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

My memory is hazy, but those were more discrete and each story usually had a distinct main character.

Sure ok, less short story-ish in Nashville, but it's still a ton of characters somewhat interwoven to tell the tale of a city. I still think it works!

Share this post


Link to post

I'm #TeamSanity on this film. It's not that fun to sit through. There's good characters and some great scenes, but it just doesn't add up for me.

Paul did sell it pretty well, and I think critics like it because it's fun to dig in to after the fact, but I feel like the #TeamFred side here is a bit too focused on the technical process on display.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
On 8/8/2019 at 10:58 AM, ol' eddy wrecks said:

I don't know if this is relevant for why the national anthem was part of the campaign, but Robert Altman was 6 when The Star-Spangled Banner was designated the US's national anthem.

Though The Pledge of Allegiance came even later (and the "Under God" change came when he was 29), and that isn't mentioned. So it may have been more something in the zeitgeist at the time. 

I agree that the national anthem might have been a lot more on people's minds at this time given the bicentennial and cultural changes the country was going through with civil rights, women's right's and Watergate. 

I ended up just buying this movie and watched it start to finish for the first time yesterdsay. I decided to watch it before listening to the Ep all the way because Paul had mentioned going in without any idea what was going to go on, and I wanted that same experience. I found some of it kind of hard to follow, but I think this is definitely one of those movies that will be more rewarding on re-watches. There's so much going on that I'm sure I'll find all kinds of new threads and details I didn't catch the first time around. Most of the music I really could have done without (but I'm not really a country fan), but I'll say I loved that last song Barbara Jean did going on about the road trip with her parents. There was something that felt like it was poking fun at the genre and I can only imagine some of that had to be improvised, but it was genius. It fit the character and the placement in the film perfectly. I also really loved the set the trio did followed by Tom's song staring at Lily Tomlin. That whole storyline was great too.  But, ugh, political assassinations. The shooting (and all dramatized shootings) really caused me anxiety. That was hard to watch. Do I think it deserves to be on the list? Eh...  I think I'd say so. This is really a break in form, and while it didn't hold my attention 100% for its very long run time, Paul and Amy kind of sold me on it. 

One bee in my bonnet: I take umbrage at the "get lawyers out of Congress" line ;) I'd prefer the people writing the laws to understand the law. But I'm biased. 

ETA: I think a great companion film to this is Coal Miner's Daughter, which i only just realized came out 5 years later. It is excellent. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

I guess I must be the one person who really enjoyed this the first time they watched it - which was back in college.  Though it's one I never really revisited until now.  I still think it's great. One thing I found myself puzzling over this time - HPW is a third party candidate.  What does it mean for him to be "winning primaries"?

I still think McCabe & Mrs. Miller is his best.  I agree with @sycasey that Nashville is his most Altman-y film.  To draw one relation between the two, McCabe & Mrs. Miller's ending kind of informs my take on the ending of Nashville.  There are people who seem important to a town or community, but they can die, but society will still march on without them.  In the case of Nashville, it can be taken as a more hopeful and defiant rebounding.  Hamilton's urge for someone to keep singing, seems to me, is the sense of not wanting a complicated, violent, outside world taking away the city's identity.  I find it also kind of discomforting though.  The "they can't" implies it being taken away by cogent outside forces.  And in real life cases, such as the chanting of "USA" days after the Twin Towers went, also filled me discomfort at the sense of potential jingoism (admittedly I lived on the other side of the country and didn't have emotional ties to NYC).  Yeah that was a weird day.  For many people when Nashville came out, the Kennedy assassinations were in the past decade, so that was probably evocative of something being taken from them.  Though Taxi Driver came out the following year - another movie about failed political assassinations.

On 8/8/2019 at 1:10 PM, sycasey 2.0 said:

Look at where he zooms in, when he decides to glide from one face to another, how people are placed within the frame to guide your eye to one face in particular (the silent Lily Tomlin during "I'm Easy" is probably the best example). Controlled chaos. I'm not sure any other filmmaker does it like this.

One thing I've heard it said that he does is keep the primary character in a scene off-center in their scene.  I assume that de-emphasize their importance and increase the emphasis on their relation or role in their surroundings.  Or possibly just to make it easier to glide to other characters sometimes.  I half-heartedly paid attention to this here and there, and there were a number of scenes that strengthened this claim.  This is in addition to, as Paul really focused on, overlapping dialogue.

On 8/8/2019 at 6:23 PM, sycasey 2.0 said:

Yes, I think that one is more like the Simpsons episode. But I suppose you could say Short Cuts was also primed by Nashville.

I think I would be surprised if Short Cuts was the first movie that was a collection of short stories that intertwined. And Altman had a number of movies where he was balancing an ensemble cast (though I remember being disappointed by Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bulls History Lesson).  Admittedly, I'm not recalling of another 60's/70's one where there wasn't a sense of a main character (outside of Popeye and Tanner '88, I haven't seen anything of his from the 80s).

On 8/8/2019 at 6:29 PM, AlmostAGhost said:

Sure ok, less short story-ish in Nashville, but it's still a ton of characters somewhat interwoven to tell the tale of a city. I still think it works!

Are we talking Simpsons' reference or Simpsons' dabbling in the same genre, because we couldn't find an actual reference?

Checking wiki, the episode was meant as a parody of Pulp Fiction and the title is a parody of Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould.

Share this post


Link to post
21 minutes ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

Are we talking Simpsons' reference or Simpsons' dabbling in the same genre, because we couldn't find an actual reference?

Checking wiki, the episode was meant as a parody of Pulp Fiction and the title is a parody of Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould.

Yea, not direct refs. As both Sycasey and Amy indicated, there probably isn't one of those.

Pulp Fiction is surely a descendant of Nashville too though, so I'm going to continue to double-down on 22 Short Stories being sort of Altman-esque. 

Share this post


Link to post
On 8/8/2019 at 12:54 PM, Cameron H. said:

For me, I thought Nashville was fine, but I was not nearly as blown away as they were. I don’t believe that means I need a cleanly plotted film, just that very few of the hooks Nashville cast reeled me in. 

I agree.  For me, I like the storylines and the themes in theory, but very few of the many characters connected with me, and that's what made it such a drag to watch.  Granted, I didn't rewatch it this week since I was on vacation, and the prevailing word seems to be that it gets better with multiple viewings, but the prospect of rewatching it after it felt like such a slog when I saw it for the first time last year was daunting.

The only Altman films that I've seen all of are this, Short Cuts, and Gosford Park, and I wasn't enamored with any of them.  We'll see how I feel about MASH when that comes around.  (It was interesting that Amy and Paul barely mentioned MASH and unless I missed it, they didn't point out that MASH is higher on the list than Nashville when it came to deciding if it deserved to be on the list.)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
11 hours ago, bleary said:

The only Altman films that I've seen all of are this, Short Cuts, and Gosford Park, and I wasn't enamored with any of them.  We'll see how I feel about MASH when that comes around.  (It was interesting that Amy and Paul barely mentioned MASH and unless I missed it, they didn't point out that MASH is higher on the list than Nashville when it came to deciding if it deserved to be on the list.)

I have not seen Short Cuts.

In the past year or so, I've revisited McCabe & Mrs Miller, MASH, The Long Goodbye, and now Nashville. (In addition to catching up with Images - but that's a lesser and lesser known Altman).

This is obviously personal opinion, but I'd be more than okay with MASH not being on the list. It has some poignant parts and some funny parts. But some of the comedy really doesn't age very well, is misogynist in a mean-spirited way.

Basically the complaint people on the forums had about Cuckoo's, of the main characters being jerks... That's more of an issue with MASH.

I wasn't particularly taken with Gosford Park (though I think other people are) nor A Prairie Home Companion.

3 Women is worth a watch (there isn't much comedy in this one), but (based on memory) I prefer Bergman's Persona (if we're talking Drop Dead Fred dramatic companion pieces).

Popeye... is a movie that exists. I know I've seen it, but don't even remember my opinion of it.

Buffalo Bill similar situation, except I remember being disappointed at the time of viewing (I had seen McCabe and Nashville not that long before, and it started Paul Newman, so my hopes we're also probably too high).

ETA: I forgot The Player. I remember laughing at it (it's been a long time) and enjoying at least some of the skewering it aims at Hollywood. But barring a major re-evaluation if I revisit it, if it were on the list, I couldn't help but think it's film makers thinking the world revolves around Hollywood.

Though, being cynical, a good chunk of me is thinking the reason MASH is on the list is due to how well known the title is, which is due to the long running tv-series it spawned.

Share this post


Link to post

Oddly, the vote on the Facebook forum went the other way and kicked Nashville off the list (by a close vote, like 48-52%).

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×