Double feature: “Nashville” is so good, so capacious, and so rich in detail that you could watch it twice in a row, back to back, and still have a compelling double feature.
But you could also profitably pair it with “Gimme Shelter,” a film with a similarly ambitious explanatory scope. “Nashville” captures the spirit of a country; “Gimme Shelter” preserves the spirit of a particular moment in time. Both films make use of British misapprehensions of American life to lend power to their definitive statements about it.
Their methods are different. “Nashville” builds to its arresting tension cumulatively, balancing expansiveness and cohesion in a way that feels organic. “Gimme Shelter”‘s tension is built into its structure – its contrasts between time cuts, its audience’s foreknowledge of tragedy.
Collisions, literal and metaphorical, define both films. Metal and bodies, reality and fiction, public and private, celebrity and anonymity, chaos and control, musician and audience – all crash into each other to explore the deceptive sense of proximity that fame engenders, and to ask what is left in a performer once his performance is over.
For a marathon: After “Nashville,” check out “Tender Mercies” for another collection of transcendent, deeply American moments exploring the intersection of music and spirituality. “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” shares “Nashville”‘s rambling, casual vibe (with some thematic overlap,) as does “Slacker,” which brings this laid-back expansiveness into the ’90s.
(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “Auntie K” and “sweetbeetandgreenbean” at Flickr)