Repertory Cinema Wishlist: Robert Altman's Nashville

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This is the second installment in Susan Froyd's weekly Repertory Cinema Wishlist. To be fair, you can't really pick just one Robert Altman movie; the iconoclastic director's prolific career -- with its roller coaster of highs and lows, big and little movies, theater adapted to film, and sprawling collections of intertwining stories -- left behind a rich legacy. But Nashville, which along with M*A*S*H and McCabe and Mrs. Miller now resides in the National Film Registry, not only falls into the sprawling category, throwing 24 characters together in the Nashville music scene, but also does so with a potent mix of humor, music, satire, politics and an improvised screen milieu that Altman pretty much invented.

See also: - Repertory Cinema Wishlist: crossing Delancey - Robert Altman wants your attention, if not your affection - Class Act: Robert Altman rounds up the best Brits for a heroic resurrection

Nashville is by nature a patchwork of episodes and characters that moves back and forth between moments of ominous darkness and helium-light gags in an instant:

It's also a movie you remember in moments, marked by a complex string of shifting interrelationships. One of the most memorable? Heartthrob Keith Carradine's singer-songwriter character finds himself unveiling a new romantic ditty in a club where it seems that every woman in the audience -- or at least the several who've been in bed with him at one time or another -- thinks it's been written for her.

But then again, Nashville is a back-room political story and a parable on the fickle nature of celebrity, as demonstrated in the clip below.

If nothing else, Nashville in many ways embodies the mood of the free-falling`70s, a time that knew nothing about AIDS or 9/11 or being able to store all the details of one's entire world on a cell phone. Life was messier back then. Plus, it's a portal into Robert Altman's ultra-modern creative genius, and perhaps an impetus to search out more of his work. Nashville is available for download from iTunes or Amazon or on DVD from Netflix.

Susan Froyd, in another life, toiled for a few years in some of Denver's most beloved and belated repertory cinemas. She has also seen a lot of movies over a lot of years. In this weekly series, she'll recommend forgotten films, classics, cult favorites and other dusty reels of celluloid from the past. You might like it.

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