Sunday, December 31, 2006

Breakdown - Nashville

All the hallmarks of Robert Altman's aural and visual styles are evident in Nashville - the overlapping dialogue, the life-like improvised roles and ensemble acting, multiple means of communication to connect the characters (phone calls, tape recordings, radio and TV, and P.A. announcements), a continuously moving camera, long takes, and imaginative sound and film editing.

Not only that, Ebert called this movie "a virtuoso display of narrative mastery." You can read the 1974 draft

As Miriam points out, the film has 96 scenes which are usually brief, over a minute in length, until you get to the last quarter of the film in which the scenes can be as long as 6, 7, 11, and even 12 minutes in length. Why some scenes are longer than others and how much Altman accomplishes in the smaller scenes, I'll leave for you to discover. However, I will say that I loved what Miriam wrote in her notes:

"He doesn't introduce people, but drifts into their lives. Even though there had to have been lights, booms, grips, sound men, and the myriad of people who have to wait and observe a shot as it happens, everything looks as if it is just taking place on the spur of the moment. Altman makes a well orchestrated film look like a documentary. The acting is very natural, with no melodramatic histrionics. Sean Penn's performance as the anguished father of the murdered girl in Mystic River is riveting, but it's staged. Linnea's quiet, subtle anguish as she falls a little in love with Tom is understated and real."

Great job, Mim. Best one yet.