Every month, when I go over the films I listed for the "Viewing Journal", I pick what film I believed was the best thus far. Last month it was Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood for Love
, before that it was Pinocchio
, and in March it was The Wages of Fear
. For August, I am going to make a prediction and say that Nashville will
be the best film I see this month, its certainly one of the best I've seen all year.
Nashville is my third Robert Altman film, after A Prairie Home Companion
and Gosford Park
respectively. Its only now that I've gotten what Altman is actually doing
in these films, covering an overarcing canvas and themes by using a series of characters as opposed to a few. Not only is this quite ambitious but when it works its visionary, and can make for incendiary cinema. Nashville
struck me more then either of those films did, but the more I think about them after seeing this, the more I want to revisit them.
Altman covers a lot here, focusing on those with success and those who are constantly grasping for it, those holding onto the past and those who look to the future while being totally jaded about the present (Geraldine Chaplin's "reporter"). Its portrayal of these people is in turns enlightening, disheartening (Sueleen Gay's striptease with the promise of a future for her singing career) and uplifting (Haven Hamilton, hazily asking about the audience after
). The fact that Altman is able to give these characters such depth and is able to give us a feel for them, to get us to care about them, while focusing on the whole Nashville music scene, is an astounding achievement.
So far this year, only one film, Henri-Georges Clouzot's The Wages of Fear
, has broken my top five favorite films; Nashville comes about as close as any other film this year has (I'm still not sure whether it takes that number five spot or not). If any film I've seen this year deserves that praise, its this one.