Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Katie-Bar-The-Door Awards (1975)

I wonder in retrospect why Robert Altman chose to plant so many of his movies in settings he didn't understand or particularly care for—Raymond Carver, Raymond Chandler, Garrison Keillor, high fashion, country music, English society, Popeye cartoons, Korea. Was it sloppiness, arrogance, boredom, or was it a necessary artistic conceit, like Nuke LaLoosh wearing garters on the pitching mound, to keep his focus slightly off-center which is the proper mindset for both an artisan pitcher and a great director? I don't know.

Whatever the case, though, I've got to tell you, Altman knew exactly nothing about Nashville-based country music. (He later admitted as much.) I grew up two doors down from George Jones and Tammy Wynette, three doors down from Bobby Bare (Sr. and Jr.), went to church with Johnny Cash, knew Roy Orbison, and was close friends with William Lee Golden's sons. My brother is a drummer and his friends are some of the best sessions players in Nashville. And as I mentioned to Erik Beck (of the Boston Becks) on his blog recently, with the exception of "I'm Easy," not one of the songs in Nashville would get a second hearing during open mic night at the Blue Bird Cafe.

Now normally I'd say this is only a minor quibble, like complaining that the Casablanca of the movie looks nothing like the Casablanca I once visited. But since the movie is essentially a country & western musical, with an hour's worth of musical performances, Altman's contempt for the form is something of a major flaw.

Not to say Nashville isn't a great movie. I think it has real insight into our national obsession with celebrity, and how we confuse being a fan with being a friend. Perhaps if he had called the movie Las Vegas or Hollywood or Broadway or something else I know but don't know well, I might have chosen it as the best picture of the year. As it is, I'd call it a flawed masterpiece, well worth your time but not as good as it could have been had he taken a minimal amount of care.

winner: Jaws (prod. David Brown and Richard D. Zanuck)

PICTURE (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (prod. Mark Forstater and Michael White)

PICTURE (Foreign Language)
winner: Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle (The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser) (prod. Werner Herzog)

ACTOR (Drama)
winner: Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)

ACTOR (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin (Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

winner: Isabelle Adjani (L'histoire d'Adèle H. a.k.a The Story Of Adele H.)

ACTRESS (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Ann-Margret (Tommy)

winner: Steven Spielberg (Jaws)

DIRECTOR (Comedy/Musical)
winner: Robert Altman (Nashville)

winner: Henry Gibson (Nashville)

winner: Lily Tomlin (Nashville)

winner: Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman, from the novel by Ken Kesey and the play by Dale Wasserman (One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest)


mister muleboy said...

I don't know about the flicks, but your choices for actress definitely gave great performances on this BLOG !

Mythical Monkey said...

They don't show much of that sort of thing in movies anymore. Graphically chopping people into cord wood, yes; suggestions of nudity, not so much.

Unknown said...

I am glad to see a bit of love for Nashville, that is easily one of the most revelatory movie experiences I have undertaken in the past year or so and Henry Gibson's "200 Years" is one of the most disturbingly brilliant songs ever recorded.

Unknown said...

Hello, this is a good article.