Hal

I did some work in the office before walking over to the theatre to catch the documentary “Hal,” about the director Hal Ashby.  The list of people interviewed was pretty impressive, with Lou Gossett, Beau Bridges, Lee Grant, Jon Voight, Jane Fonda, Jeff Bridges, and Rosanna Arquette talking about Ashby the artist.  Norman Jewison had a lot to say.  He and Ashby worked together in the early days on films like “In the Heat of the Night.” It’s rather remarkable that Jewison is still alive at 92, remembering these things.  One disappointment is that some of the audio and video sources are rough.  The film goes through Ashby’s life lightly.  It didn’t tell me much about him, except that he smoked a lot of marijuana, spent a lot of time in the editing room, and got married quite a few times.  The movie starts with Cat Stevens’ “Miles from Nowhere” on the soundtrack, which was appropriate because I’ll always associate Cat Stevens with Ashby.  “Harold and Maude” really had its beautiful scenes.  The focus is on the films from the 1970s: “The Landlord,” “Harold and Maude,” “The Last Detail,” “Shampoo,” “Bound for Glory,” “Coming Home,” and “Being There.”  They were all remarkable movies, too.  I don’t know if this movie will inspire anyone to go out and seek Ashby’s movies.  Only one other person was at this screening with me.  Ashby worked with Haskell Wexler and Robert Towne.  I didn’t really understand what happened to Ashby after “Being There.”  The movie goes over his 1980s work quickly.  I’ve seen only two of the movies.  He died two days after Christmas in 1988.  I’ll always think of him as one of the greatest directors of my youth.  “Being There” seems so brilliant when you think about Trump as president today.  “Harold and Maude” seems like it will be popular forever.  Some of the people who died on September 29 include Carson McCullers (1967), Edward Everett Horton (1970), Charles Addams (1988), Roy Lichtenstein (1997), Lois Maxwell (2007), and Tony Curtis (2010).  Today is a birthday for Ian McShane (76) and Jerry Lee Lewis (83).

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