Los Angeles Times

5 films that are '70s time capsules

1. FIVE EASY PIECES (Bob Rafelson; 1970) 3 1/2 stars

Jack Nicholson in one of his signature roles as alienated Bobby Dupea, a classical pianist from an affluent family who buries himself in the persona of an oil rigger with a white-trash girlfriend (Karen Black), only to be pulled out by his father's approaching death. This moody gem contains a classic Nicholson tantrum: the chicken salad on toast scene. With Susan Anspach, Fannie Flagg, Sally Struthers, Ralph Waite. (available on DVD/video)

2. HAROLD AND MAUDE (Hal Ashby; 1972) 4 stars

Ashby's cult classic about the crazy-funny romance of free-spirited septuagenarian Maude (Ruth Gordon) and rich, suicidal young Harold (Bud Cort). The movie is a paean to outsiders and reckless love. With Vivian Pickles, Cyril Cusack, Charles Tyner. (DVD/video)

3. THE CONVERSATION (Francis Coppola; 1974) 4 stars

Coppola's mesmerizing Cannes Grand Prize winner about surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman), hired for a mysterious bugging job, who comes to suspect he's being pulled into something more dangerous as he pieces together bits of taped conversation. The inspiration is "Blowup," but this film is bleaker and more paranoid. It's a cryptic vision of a media-besotted society where privacy is non-existent. With John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Cindy Williams, Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall. (DVD/video)

4. NASHVILLE (Robert Altman; 1975) 4 stars

Altman's epic country music and political satire, "Nashville" is a vast fresco of '70s American life in extremis, with a collection of C&W stars and their audience moving through an amazing set of criss-crossing stories during a Nashville weekend when doom approaches and the streets ring with third-party political speeches. With Keith Carradine, Lily Tomlin, Ronee Blakley, Barbara Harris, Geraldine Chaplin, Henry Gibson, Michael Murphy. (DVD/video)

5. MANHATTAN (Woody Allen; 1979) 4 stars

Allen's comic/romantic poem to the borough he loves best. A high point of American sound comedy, co-starring Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy, Meryl Streep, Mariel Hemingway. (DVD/video)

Michael Wilmington is the Chicago Tribune movie critic.

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