Blu-ray Review: Fantastic Set For Altman’s Beloved ‘Nashville’

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When I expressed excitement over the fact that Robert Altman’s stunning “Nashville” was being released in a Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition a few months back, a colleague asked me why I loved the film and I had trouble verbalizing my feelings about Altman’s sprawling, brilliant tapestry of characters. Watching the excellent new documentary about the making-of the film on the Criterion release makes it clear that I’m not alone.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-ray rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

As the interview participants try to sum up why “Nashville” is so remarkable, they throw out a dozen or so different themes that the movies captures from the similarities between entertainment & politics to honor to pride to artistic integrity to what writer Joan Tewkesbury says is the film’s focus on how we will all eventually “be called on our shit.” Clearly, “Nashville” is not an easy movie to summarize. It is a landmark, revolutionary film in terms of structure, tone, and style (perhaps even more than you thought as the doc explains how the sound recording allowed for a new kind of filmmaking in the crowd scenes) but it is hard describe simply. What’s “Nashvile” about? What’s it NOT about?

The Criterion Blu-ray of Altman’s incredible drama not includes that new documentary that features new interviews with Keith Carradine, Lily Tomlin, and Alan Rudolph, who does a great job of stepping in for the creative voice that Altman would have provided the featurette if he were still with us, but it includes several interviews with the master AND his spectacularly informative commentary from the 2000 release. As for the transfer, it’s stellar, as nearly all Criterion transfers are lately. They’re not about to drop the ball with a film as beloved as “Nashville” and they don’t stumble at all here, issuing one of their best releases of 2013 in the final month of the year.

Sansho the Bailiff was released on Blu-ray on February 26, 2013
Sansho the Bailiff was released on Blu-ray on February 26, 2013
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

Synopsis:
This cornerstone of 1970s American moviemaking from Robert Altman is a panoramic view of the country’s political and entertainment landscapes, set in the nation’s music capital. Nashville weaves the stories of twenty-four characters - from country star to wannabe to reporter to waitress-into a cinematic tapestry that is equal parts comedy, tragedy, and musical. Many members of the astonishing cast wrote and performed their own songs live on location, which lends another layer to the film’s quirky authenticity. Altman’s ability to get to the heart of American life via its eccentric byways was never put to better use than in this grand, rollicking triumph, which barrels forward to an unforgettable conclusion.

Special Features:
o Audio Commentary Featuring Director Robert Altman
o New Documentary On The Making of The Film, Featuring Interviews With Actors Ronee Blakley, Keith Carradine, Michael Murphy, Allan Nicholls, and Lily Tomlin; Screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury; Assistant Director Alan Rudolph; And Altman’s Widow, Kathryn Reed Altman
o Three Archival Interviews With Altman
o Behind The Scenes Footage
o Demo Of Carradine Performing His Songs From The Film
o Trailer
o Booklet Featuring An Essay By Critic Molly Haskell

“Nashville” was released on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD on December 3, 2013.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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