I liked that writer/director Robert Altman reveled in breaking rules.
However, I do not recommend his scripts to new writers because:
1) Altman scripts are specifically written for him. Thus, they include things that are frowned upon - long back stories, telling vs. showing, etc.
2) Altman enjoyed BIG ensembles. ex. Nashville follows 25 characters.
3) Sometimes there is no real plot, just stories.
4) He liked weaving episodic stories together.*
I find #4 particularly troublesome.
So why did it work for him? I don't know.
All I can say is that he had a talent for:
- Juggling multiple story lines to create a snapshot of country music, AND
- Keeping the same tone in very different episodes, AND
- Keeping the pacing, AND
- Saying something about America.
I did notice that several episodes repeated the search for one's dreams in different forms.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I'm still not sure why this episodic film works.
by Joan Tewkesbury
*Episodic = Separate, tenuously related stories