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Nashville Blu-ray Review

Nashville Blu-ray

“Nashville” is am ambitious and admirable Robert Altman film.

In case you aren’t familiar with Robert Altman’s “Nashville,” it’s a sprawling, 160 minute, interconnected multi-character story about music, politics, human fragility, celebrity culture, and dreams. Instead of having a standard narrative, the story drifts from a plethora of characters such as country musicians (namely Haven Hamilton, Connie White, and Barbara Jean), a Gospel singer named Linnea Reese (and her family), a nosy BBC reporter (Opal), the eccentric Tricycle Man, a waitress and wannabe singer who can’t sing (Sueleen), a singer (Winifred) who is trying to get her big break, a Vietnam War veteran (Pfc. Glenn Kelly), celebrities playing themselves (won’t say who), a suspicious loner (Kenny), and a folk singer (Tom Frank) amidst a backdrop of multiple concerts and a fictional political campaign for Hal Phillip Walker.

At the time of its release, “Nashville” was considered a groundbreaking film due to the naturalistic and realistic storytelling approach. Rather than having a single character focus, the film drifts from one character to another. Yes, some characters spend more time on screen than others, but there’s not one character that you can consider the star. Of course, Altman later went on to adopt a similar structure for later (and some would say) better films like “Short Cuts” and “Gosford Park.” While it’s certainly a unique way to tell a story, it doesn’t always quite work. While the unpredictability of the unfolding events and small talk are attention grabbing, it can sometimes be difficult to connect with any of the characters. One can argue that less is more in this case, but you can never have too much characterization. With that said, I believe the film is more of a snapshot of 70’s Americana than a character piece.

From a musical perspective, the movie is rather interesting albeit puzzling. While it’s undoubtedly impressive to see cast members such as Keith Carradine, Karen Black and Richard Baskin writing and singing their own songs, it does seem peculiar that there is a lack of established Nashville (or Country) musicians to give the film a bit more authenticity. It’s a minor complaint to be sure (especially since the cast knocks it out of the park), but it’s still rather odd to say the least.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.35:1 1080p. How does it look? If you’re expecting a crystal clear transfer, don’t. The print contains a lot of natural grain which may bother some. If that doesn’t bother you, I can say that you will be very happy with this crisp Blu-ray transfer.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD. How does it sound? You can’t ask for a better track. The music numbers have so much more life to them in this Blu-ray release.

Extras:
* “Nashville” film trailer.
* A booklet featuring an essay by Molly Haskell.
* A DVD copy of the film and a second DVD containing all of the extras.
* A commentary from 2000 by the late great director Robert Altman. Altman chats about behind-the-scenes facts, inspirations, “Thieves Like Us,” music, and set stories. When Altman does talk, it’s interesting. Unfortunately, there area lot of moments where he doesn’t speak. 
* 3 separate interviews with Robert Altman from 1975, 2000 and 2002.
* An audio demo of actor Keith Carradine singing 3 songs.
* Silent behind the scenes footage of the traffic pile up sequence and the climactic sequence.
* “The Making of Nashville”- A newly produced  70 minute documentary that features film clips and a wide variety of interviews with Keith Carradine, Lily Tomlin, Ronee Blakley, Joan Tewkesbury, and many others. Discussions range from the film’s structure, the themes, Robert Altman, dailies, set experiences, Allen Garfield, recording live on camera, and extras for crowd sequences. Hands down the best extra feature on this set.

Overall Thoughts: I don’t view “Nashville” as the ultimate Altman film that some critics and film buffs do, but there’s no denying the fact that it was an influential one of a kind film.

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December 10, 2013 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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