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#279 - Nashville
Robert Altman, 1975

Follows a large number of people who are in the titular city at the same time that a political convention is taking place.

The hype is strong when it comes to Nashville. Supposedly Altman's best film, it's not hard to see how it would earn that reputation as it combines just about everything that makes Altman great. The ability to juggle multiple intertwined subplots between dozens of different characters is no easy task but Altman naturally manages it with the help of a collection of well-known and not-so-well-known performers. Setting the film in America's country music capital and having many of the characters be connected to the scene in one way or another mainly makes this film a commentary on the dark side of the entertainment industry, changing things up by relocating somewhere other than Hollywood. As a result, it would be easy to decry the film for recycling a lot of familiar entertainment drama tropes such as the talentless yet optimistic wannabe, the legendary performer whose charming public persona hides a vicious behind-the-scenes true self, the journalist who wants an insight into this world but ends up becoming part of it, etc. Fortunately, Altman and his collaborators give each of the many characters just enough depth and pathos to stop them falling into bland stereotypes.

The music theme also guarantees that there are a handful of numbers to mix things up a bit. Though your general opinion of the songs may depend on your tolerance for country music, there's no denying the power of "I'm Easy", the Oscar-winning tune that makes for one of the film's most memorable scenes. The cinematography is up to Altman's usual standard, with a nice thick grain and the right balance of camera movement - not too static, not too frantic. Performances are generally great and not just when the characters are singing or playing. It's a testament to this film that I can't single out any particular actors above any others as they all have significant parts to play. Though the convoluted combinations of characters and narratives does mean that the film can get a little hard to follow (to the point where I'm sure I'll need another viewing or two to truly soak it all in), the fact that it's intriguing enough to warrant extra viewings is definitely one of many points in the film's favour.