Robert Altman forged a distinctively naturalistic aesthetic in the 1970s, typified by dialogue that overlaps with lifelike messiness and a camera that restlessly pans and zooms within a scene, picking out detail with apparent spontaneity.
With his ambitious country-music panorama Nashville, he hit upon a form of multi-character storytelling that would prove highly influential. Instead of focusing on a single protagonist, Altman juggles 24 different lives – singing stars, wannabes, politicians, journalists – as they brush up against each other during the weekend of a concert and political rally in the Tennessee state capital.
A radical reimagining of the movie musical, this satire on the Nashville scene features a host of original songs, many of which were written by members of the ensemble cast.
In 2006, Altman turned his attentions to another great musical city, recalling the 1930s jazz culture of his youth in Kansas City.