Nashville, somebody’s gotta live there

29Oct09

Well, completing that 1001 Movies to See Before You Die book seems be getting harder and harder by the moment. While with each movie I see, I am able to cross another title off of the list. I now have to throw myself into things that I usually wouldn’t watch, like westerns and foreign films. This past week, I rented Goodbye Lenin and Midnight Cowboy. But then there are concepts that completely throw off your instincts, that’s how I arrived at Nashville. On the positive side, the movie had Robert Altman as the director, who was the man. On the negative side, I had heard that there was over an hour of country music performances in a two and half hour movie, the songs composed by the actors. Pardon me if I came into this movie a bit hesitant.

Here is another thing for the weak of heart, Nashville has about twenty-four main characters. It can’t really be defined by any particular genre, but perhaps the closet one would be a musical because of all the songs. But maybe this could be called a human interest piece. The making of this movie took place during two different events in U. S. history, the legacy of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal were still very present in the mindset of America at this time, just as the country was preparing to celebrate it’s two hundredth birthday.

And this is the world of Nashville, a country darkened by recent events which is still trying to act like the great nation is living on. The city itself is a great setting for this idea, because so much of the Tennessee culture is based around the country music which embodies the heartland, a city fighting a losing battle as the rest of the nation is drastically changing. But at the same time it is interesting to watch the microcosm of the city, the established hierarchy, and the reverence it has for it’s local heroes, all of them seeming music stars.

When one watches Nashville, they aren’t particularly sure who to root for at first. Many of the characters are incredibly simple-minded, while many others are ruthlessly selfish. Nobodies are convinced that they will be somebodies, somebodies want more fame and popularity, it’s a vicious circle that exposes the pursuit of success as a hollow joyride. And at the center of it all is the hometown music legend Barbara Jean, a beautiful, successful singer whose world has driven her to the edge of her sanity by overwhelming fame and an overprotective husband. But Barbara Jean isn’t the most important character, they all have there own moments that define the movie. Nashville is a film experience unlike any other, which should be seen by anyone with an interest in American Cinema.

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