ashbyWhen you talk about Hal Ashby “the auteur,” the elephant in the room is always going to be his decline and unemployability through the 1980s, brought on by heavy drug use; he passed away in 1988, at the age of 59. During the 1970s, however, following a transition from editor to director that was likely accelerated by his Academy Award for In the Heat of the Night, Ashby helmed many of the decade’s most notable films. His elusive style (or, perhaps, a highly deceptive non-style), characterized by restraint, allows scenes to develop naturally at a respectful distance. He doesn’t push with the camera, often composing and blocking inside telephoto-constrained spaces. It’s no surprise that the editing of his best movies is equally intelligent and sensitive.

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