The Moving Image Source Calendar is a selective international guide to retrospectives, screenings, festivals, and exhibitions.
Descriptions are drawn from the calendars of the presenting venues.
Hal Ashby's Commingling Seventies
July 1-August 20, 2008 at
Northwest Film Forum
Hal Ashby was one of the most prolific and successful filmmakers of the 1970s, producing a string of hits beginning with the cult success Harold and Maude (1971) and lasting through Being There (1979). Despite this, Ashby is little remembered today and, when he is mentioned in critical anthologies, it is often in condescending and even disparaging terms. David Thomson, for instance, in A Biographical Dictionary of Film calls Ashby "a sad casualty who depended on strong collaborators." In addition, Ashby did not direct his first film until the age of 40, so the body of his work as a director is relatively small. But the films that he made show a remarkable sense of black humor and irony, a consistency of theme and characterization, and an innovative use of music and editing. Ashby was the quintessential '70s director, one who spoke directly to the era-and lived it, acquiring and breaking a coke habit en route.
Like Bob Rafelson and Robert Altman, Ashby was a voice of the counterculture, his films promoted radical change and embraced individual awakenings, especially in opposition to mainstream society. An actors' director, Ashby elicited career-highlight performances from Peter Sellers, Jane Fonda, Warren Beatty, Jon Voight, Jack Nicholson, Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, Bruce Dern, and Shirley MacLaine, among many others. Indeed, Hal Ashby produced an extraordinary group of films over a short period of time. His films from The Landlord through Being There impart a coherent vision that comments on the human condition, through its misfits, sees humanity as often absurd, though not without humor and dignity or beyond redemption. Moreover, his status as a pre-eminent director during the 1970s should be acknowledged and the fine films that he made during this period remembered.
The Landlord (1970, pictured); Harold and Maude (1971); The Last Detail (1973); Shampoo (1975); Bound for Glory (1976); Going Home (1978); Being There (1979)