RETRO REVIEW: Holy HAL! The Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema Screens Amy Scott’s Documentary on Film Legend Hal Ashby, Opening October 5

Posted on: Oct 4th, 2018 By:

by Brooke Sonenreich
Contributing Writer

HAL (2018); Dir. Amy Scott; Starring Hal Ashby, Allison Anders, Judd Apatow, Rosanna Arquette; Opens Friday, Oct. 5 at the Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema; Trailer here.

In this vivacious documentary, director Amy Scott follows the life and times of Hollywood director Hal Ashby. With archived footage, interviews, audio and once forgotten letters, Scott fills in the missing pieces to a life and career filmgoers might have overlooked.

HAL’s a film that makes you want to return to all of Ashby’s work, even if it’s to catch what you missed. He’s the pot-smoking, neurotic genius behind films like HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971), THE LAST DETAIL (1973), SHAMPOO (1975), COMING HOME (1978), BEING THERE (1979) and more.

‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’

Ashby’s journey through Hollywood is as unique as he is. He started off as a copier in large L.A. studios, but joined the cutting room soon after to become an editor to Norman Jewison. By 1967 he had edited Jewison’s IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967), a movie about a black police detective who is assigned to investigate a murder in the south. In times when it wasn’t popular, Ashby continued tackling the topic of racism throughout his career.

Scott does a fantastic job at editing herself, lining up interviews with relevant pieces of dialogue from Ashby’s most beloved films. While attending to Ashby’s most loved and least liked films, HAL follows the stories of Ashby’s love life, his broken home, his estranged daughter, and his dearest friends and actors. It’s an inspiring film that should not be missed.

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