Tuesday, May 24, 2005

MOVIE OF THE MONTH NASHVILLE got shut out of Time magazine's recent list of the top 100 movies of all time. And my sense is it gets less respect--and has less cultural currency--than other landmark films of the 1970s.

Part of the reason for this, I suspect, is that it's difficult to get people to sit down and actually watch the movie: NASHVILLE sports an odd, off-putting dvd cover image; it clocks in at about 150 minutes; and the film's title doesn't exactly have the punch of BADLANDS or CHINATOWN.

But NASHVILLE deserves to be seen--and not just because Robert Altmans's directorial approach is groundbreaking.

The film also happens to have a lot to say about where we are, currently, as a nation: Made in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, it takes as its subject (however obliquely) the state of America. The country's political and cultural situation is explored through an examination of five days in the the lives of two-dozen characters tied to Nashville's country music scene.

The tone is frequently sardonic, but Altman isn't pushing any simple message. And what he achieves is more interesting and complicated than a lampoon of the country music industry.

In fact, the humor--to the extent it has a target--seems to be aimed at the very idea of the United States.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.