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Short Cuts

Andie MacDowell , Julianne Moore , John Dorr , Mike Kaplan    R (Restricted)   DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
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If aliens came down to earth to see if humanity was worth saving, showing them Short Cuts, Robert Altman's bluesy riff on life in L.A. in the '90s, would not be a good idea. Based on the stories of Raymond Carver (adapted by Altman and Frank Barhydt), this ambitious film is a devilish valentine to living in L.A., where happiness comes at a premium. There are at least eight separate stories that crisscross, most about people who choose not to relate to the lives they are living. Seemingly by design, none of the stories (nor the performances for that matter) have more impact than the others--this is a true mosaic film. The most representative plot deals with a group of friends (Buck Henry, Fred Ward, and Huey Lewis) who decide to keep fishing even after discovering a body in the river. The story works as a morose comedy and a flag holder for the movie: the inability to take the correct action. Others would rather talk about seeing Alex Trebek than discuss their faltering relationships. A huge and talented cast twists in the wind, bumping into moments of truth, sex, and passion. Some even come out all right in the end. The accidental nature of life--a common theme in many Altman films--has never been so maddeningly persistent, or absorbing. The score by Mark Isham with songs sung by Annie Ross (also a cast member) fuels the moodiness, as does the opening number in which Medfly helicopters spray the town to the tune "Prisoner of Life." Delivering the film a year after his biggest hit in two decades, The Player, Altman proved his artistic tenacity as an aged artist with the heart of a new filmmaker: he's not afraid of risking it all. --Doug Thomas

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
Altman's singature classic with twenty two characters and ten nearly distinct tales. Imagine the ingenuity required to interweave all of that into a seamless whole, but Altman manages the feat deliciously.
While the individual threads may coax discussion, it is their blending that enables a variety of perspectives. Most of them are poignant, for instance the life of a pool cleaner and his wife who vocalizes orgasms on the phone in her job as a tele-sex worker while changing her kids' diapers. Or the life of a couple whose son has been in a tragic accident that brings their lives to an abrupt halt. Etc.
Be warned, many of these vignettes, while very tautly scripted and cleverly screenplayed, remain "unresolved," which may not work for some viewers. Personally I feel that films like this are more genuine reflections of the world in which we live: people often don't change, questions are frequently left unanswered, and unbecoming things do happen every day.
It's a pure pleasure to find a movie that weaves such a deep and intelligent tapestry of human lives, with all their idiosynchratic travails and triumphs. An absolute gem for you to own, not just rent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars writen from a kendal college film class student Feb. 20 2002
By liz
Format:VHS Tape
For all the soap fan out there listen up!! if you like to stick your nose into other people's problems this is the film for you..it deals with all issues from sex, drugs, even death...it gives you in inside on how families really are...this will not panit that pretty picture of the beaver family for you...i highly recommend this movie to any one who likes to stay at the edge of there seats with surprises and loves to laugh. thanks for taking the time to reading the reveiw, liz g. a kendal college student (film class)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting! March 9 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This was a very interesting movie. I absolutely loved the story within a story concept. For this movie to have been as long as it was it held my attention. Just for curiousity, I had to watch because I was so interested in what was going to happen to the characters next. All in all, this was a good movie and I recommend it for a day that you don't want to do anything but watch a good movie.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tales of the City, LA. March 26 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This is a panorama of L.A. made up of eight interweaving plots based on the short stories of Raymond Carver. Carver's stories don't necessarily translate that well to the screen because they are about mostly stunted emotional lives and their events take place almost entirely on the inside. So the best acting performances in Altmans Short Cuts are by the actors who can convey those vagaries well and make them interesting. Julianne Moore and Matthew Modine to my mind give the best performances as the couple which finds it is unable to directly cope with a three year old moment of infidelity. Moore is a painter who paints people appropriately frozen in one emotion or another(similar to Longo or Salle) and Modine a doctor who is not equipped to see things except with scientific eyes. The two have some memorable moments together when their lives intersect with another plot line. They invite Anne Archer and Fred Ward(who are having their own meltdown) over for an L.A. cook out and the evening turns into a weekend. They all end up in clown make up as the strange and liberating weekend wears on. Wish this segment would have been given a whole movies worth of treatment.
Other stories include Andie Macdowell and Bruce Davidson and their little boy who is hit by a car driven by Lily Tomlin whose lover is played by Tom Waits. The first couple experiences grief while the second rebirth. Tomlins daughter is played by Lily Taylor and her group of friends include Robert Downey Jr. and Jennifer Jason Leigh and their story line just never fully develops into anything. Tim Robbins plays a philandering motorcycle cop whose wife is played by Madeline Stowe.
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Format:VHS Tape
The book was just a collection of short stories dealing with quite ordinary people in our modern society, with their ordinary problems, all revolving around the relations each person or each couple could entertain with others, and the disruptive effect of some dramatic events or feelings, like jealousy, the death of a child, a sexual drive suddenbly coming out of the cupboard, etc.
The film is going ten times farther but in a totally different direction. By editing the various stories in small cuts, very small sections, the various stories interlacing their little pieces one into and across another, we have a vision of our life as a jigsaw puzzle whose hundreds of small pieces have been thrown on the floor in a pile, in a tumble, and our life looks like in a jumble. When we live through our day we have the feeling that their is some directing line, some logic in the events of the day, even if our child gets hit by a car : the day has a certain continuity, each moment being the result or the consequence of the previous one, even if we forget something and we run into a rubbing friction with something or someone. But if we look at a life, what's more several lives, from outside we only see small incoherent pieces as if we were constantly zapping from one channel to the next, as if we were lining up in an unforeseeable and unplanned sequence of events the small tidbits our lives are reduced to.
Then the outcome of the day is unpredictable. Then the logic of our living lines is invisible. At the end of the day, we maybe have two or three pieces that go together but have been separated from one another by other small events that are parasites. The result is then obvious and boils down to several attitudes that bring some mental unity to the pile of rubbish it all amounts to.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Un film représentatif de Robert Altman
Un autre film chorale (à plusieurs personnages) de Robert Altman qui reprend une fois de plus des thèmes qui lui sont chers. Read more
Published 21 months ago by CINEVORE
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Film - One of my top 10
Well crafted film both funny and serious - almost perfect in all respects. This is the only Altman film I really like and boy is it good. Read more
Published on April 11 2012 by Dubwicht
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, if not quite great Altman
I certainly liked this film, especially after a 2nd viewing. But it's weak spots kept me from feeling it's one of Altman's very best. Read more
Published on April 23 2011 by K. Gordon
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, if not quite great Altman
I certainly liked this film, especially after a 2nd viewing. But it's weak spots kept me from feeling it's one of Altman's very best. Read more
Published on April 23 2011 by K. Gordon
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, if not quite great Altman
I certainly liked this film, especially after a 2nd viewing. But it's weak spots kept me from feeling it's one of Altman's very best. Read more
Published on April 23 2011 by K. Gordon
2.0 out of 5 stars not bad, just disappointing after Carver's stories
I just wanted to respond to Michael Crane's review, if you've read it. I don't say this to insult him in any way, but I agree with most but not all of what he says. Read more
Published on March 11 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars okay
Minus the critical acclaim, buzz, influence over films like Magnolia, Short Cuts, on its own, is a mediocre movie. Read more
Published on Aug. 11 2002
2.0 out of 5 stars Lame
Robert Altman has a knack for boring the hell out of me. I really just didn't care for any of the characters at any time, although the scene with Juliana Moore and her red beaver... Read more
Published on March 13 2002 by Dadateyont
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular Camera Angles
Robert Altman's portrayal of Raymond Carver's collection of short stories is absolutely wonderful. Though long, time is needed to see the development of all nine stories that find... Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2002 by John Goggin
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