Wednesday, August 11, 2010

#5. Short Cuts (1993)

DVD Synopsis: The visions of two great American artists merge in Short Cuts, maverick director Robert Altman's kaleidoscopic adaptation of Raymond Carver's short stories. Epic in scale yet meticulously observed, the film interweaves the lives of twenty-two characters struggling to find solace and meaning in contemporary Los Angeles. The extraordinary ensemble cast includes Tim Robbins, Julianne Moore, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Lemmon, and Jennifer Jason Leigh--all giving fearless performances in one of Altman's most compassionate creations.

Give Robert Altman a huge cast of characters, and he could perform miracles. He did so many times throughout his career, and after watching Short Cuts, I can say without hesitation that he’s done it again. 

As with many of Altman’s star-studded efforts, no synopsis could possibly do this movie justice, seeing as it presents, in explicit detail, the lives of 22 Los Angeles residents, all of whose paths cross, in one way or another, over the course of a few days. It is a tremendous achievement, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that nobody was Altman’s equal when it came to juggling jam-packed stories. In the hands of another director, things would have probably gotten downright confusing. Not with Altman; in typical fashion, the director leaves no stone unturned, and no matter how many twists Short Cuts ultimately takes, he ensures that none of his characters gets left behind.



Melissa said...

I've always loved this movie!

DVD Infatuation said...

Melissa: Thanks for stopping by.

Robert Altman is one of my favorite directors, and this film is surely in my top-5 of his films. He does such a masterful job balancing the stories, and the entire cast is wonderful.

CitizenRobots said...

A few things stick with me from this movie:

- When Matthew Modine yells at Julianne Moore for not wearing any underpants

- Tom Waits and Lily Tomlin singing that little song about getting out of Downey

- How when I saw this at LACMA during a huge Altman retrospective, people actually clapped at the ends of the Annie Ross music numbers.

I agree with you about Altman, he just simply made it look so easy to juggle a huge, talented staff. I feel like Charlie Kaufman should have studied his work more before undertaking Synchedoche, NY.

Unknown said...

Missed this gem when it first came out. WOW!! Seamlessly interwoven storylines of fascinating and interesting, albeit dysfunctional characters. Tim Robbins and Madeleine Stowe's storyline was deliciously screwed up, and I loved Jennifer Jason Leigh's disconnect as a phone sex operator. Thanks for bringing this film to my attention!!

DVD Infatuation said...

Jill: Thanks again! I hope you're enjoying the earliest films from this challenge of mine!

And I'm glad you enjoyed the movie. Robbins and Stowe were great, as was most of the cast (and yes, Jennifer Jason Leigh's disconnect was perfect, and it worked to strengthen the resentment her husband, Chris Penn, had for her chosen line of work).

Thanks again, and I hope you spot a few more hidden gems in the mix (and even if you don't like them, please be sure to leave a comment and let us know why).

Tommy Ross said...

My favorite Altman! By a mile! Like you said it defies a synopsis...