Hal Ashby's obsessive genius led to an unprecedented string of Oscar®-winning classics, including Harold and Maude, Shampoo and Being There. But as contemporaries Coppola, Scorsese and ...
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Hal Ashby's obsessive genius led to an unprecedented string of Oscar®-winning classics, including Harold and Maude, Shampoo and Being There. But as contemporaries Coppola, Scorsese and Spielberg rose to blockbuster stardom in the 1980s, Ashby's uncompromising nature played out as a cautionary tale of art versus commerce.Written by
Hal Ashby, who died in 1988 at the age of 59, was a most brilliant and irreverent film director and editor. In the 1970's he brought such classic movies to the screen as "Harold and Maude", "The Last Detail" (one of my favorite films), "Shampoo", "Coming Home" and the biting satire "Being There".
This documentary on his life and work, directed by Amy Scott, making her feature debut, illustrates Ashby's passion for film, starting as an editor (winning an Oscar in that category) and then going on to directing, initially under the mentoring of the acclaimed Canadian director Norman Jewison. The doc outlines Ashby's continual clashes with studio executives and how that combined with a shift away from films with a social message in the 80's would help exacerbate his decline.
Sorry to say, but some technical issues in the doc somewhat hampered my enjoyment of the movie. When Ashby's voice recordings came onto the screen the subtitles became extremely small or were annoyingly shown in lettering from the top to bottom. Combined with poor sound quality, it was difficult for me to catch all that was being said. To note also, there's plenty of raw language throughout for those concerned about same.
Overall, it was great to re-visit some of the brilliance of Hal Ashby, and movie buffs should enjoy this visit down memory lane, despite the sadness and tragic parts of his life.
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