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Short Cuts
Short Cuts
Genres: Drama
R     2000

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 ...  more »


Movie Details

Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Family Life
Studio: New Line Home Video
Format: DVD
DVD Release Date: 04/04/2000
Release Year: 2000
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 11
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
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Movie Reviews

It's Long but it Resonates!
Archmaker | California | 04/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Robert Altman takes another large cast and tells engrossing, interconnected and overlapping tales of modern LA life as no one else can. Based on the short stories of Raymond Carver, yes, the movie is long, 189 minutes long to be exact. But what stories! They echoed and resonated and stayed with me and I can't imagine what you would cut. So, its 189 minutes. Take your time.There isn't a "movie minute" in the whole film, which doesn't mean there aren't surprises. These people act like real people, they do what real people do, which means they surpise the hell out of you all the time. Character is revealed not so much by words but by unanticipated responses and actions.I don't want to divulge too much of the individual stories as it would spoil the moments of revelation. Suffice it to say, Tim Robbin's arrogant philandering motorcyle cop, Fred Ward's obtuse & callous fisherman, Lori Singer's sad cellist, Jack Lemmon's pathetic loser, Lily Tomlin & Tom Waits alcoholic trailer trash, Lyle Lovett's mistaken baker, Chris Penn's inwardly raging pool- cleaner, Davidson's & MacDowell's anxious parents, Modine's jealous surgeon, Gallagher's vengeful Ex, and all the other terrific performances both light and dark, will stay with you when the movie has ended.This is Altman back doing what Altman does best, catching lightning in a bottle, and great performances on celluloid. First rate!"
Brilliant Psychosocial Drama in Disjointed Cinematic Journey
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 12/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In society, people end up with careers and lives through situational opportunity and the coincidence of chance that struck them at a sudden moment. Short Cuts grasps this notion as a large number of characters, 22 to be precise, interact directly or indirectly through a wide variety of different opportunities and chances. The connection is that these character's ties are of variable closeness, as some know each other, some get to know each other, and some never get to know of the existence of one another, yet every action has an effect on everyone. It is this moment, which Robert Altman seizes, as Short Cuts becomes a tale of the little and epic episodes of life.

Robert Altman does a marvelous job in depicting the small daily deceits that are made in order to keep family life intact. The idea is based on Raymond Carver's work which Altman freely adapts onto the silver screen, and he does a marvelous job grabbing Carver's atmosphere. The atmosphere is of a detached society where no true values or customs exists, and only where a temporary fix can provide instant happiness. This is supported by an excellent cast consisting of talented actors such as Andie MacDowell, Jack Lemmon, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anne Archer, Matthew Modine, Julianne Moore, Robert Downey Jr., and Tim Robbins among many others.

In the opening scene, a large number of helicopters take off into the sunset while families can hear about threats of the Medfly through a broadcaster. The hovering sound of helicopters roams over the Los Angles urban and suburban communities as the news continues of the helicopters that are set out to spray an insecticide over L. A. in order to combat the threatening Medfly. Fearfully, families close their windows and doors in concern of possible side effects of the insecticide. The cinematic introduction of Short Cuts brings the audience an anxious trepidation of an unforeseen looming future, and it displays how differently people deal with the worrisome situation.

In the middle of the Medfly tragedy there are ten different stories intermingled as they all affect one another in different ways. These stories contain love, deceit, suffering, denial, fear, envy, forgiveness, and death as the different characters explore new ways of dealing with life. The approach used to face the difficulties of life often contain some sort of short cut, such as alcohol, infidelity, lies, and denial to provide a quick fix. However, the short cuts taken by the people often end up being much more painful to involved parties as it does not involve taking the time to tell the truth or be frank with oneself or others.

The many tales of Short Cuts concern men such as an unfaithful police officer, three men on a fishing trip finding a dead body, a stalking baker, and a vengeful helicopter pilot. These men often to try to express an outward masculinity, but the maleness looks feeble as they find themselves forced into a situation where they have to be nurturing and caring. This inconsistency supports the notion that the men seek a short cut of being male by behaving in an overtly tough manner, but instead the men find themselves in a quandary as they find their wife or girlfriend upset.

The stories also have interesting quick fixes in regards to the women, who either drink themselves into oblivion or live in denial. For example, there is the story of a jazz singing alcoholic mother that drowns her own sorrows in alcohol instead of communicating with her depressed musically gifted daughter. There is also a housewife that runs a phone sex business while changing the diapers and feeding their infant, but when her husband wants to have some fun she is quick to remember something in order to ruin the moment. In addition, there is the waitress who has an alcoholic boyfriend who seems to have advanced on her daughter in a moment of drunkenness to which the mother blames the alcohol.

The different stories all have something in common, as all characters avoid the truth and try to find an instant fix around the corner. Nonetheless, the film is not about the stories, but about the people in the story and how these people deal with joy and misery from day to day while things they cannot control affect them. Altman provides this cinematically through jumping around to the different stories while telling each tale in a disconnected manner that enhances the detached atmosphere and brings human behavior to the focus. The behavior of the people seems to become a product of the environment and the way they have been nurtured, which gives the film some interesting psychosocial insights.

After a three hour long journey the audience will have experienced a first class venture into cinema as the tale offers several possible narrations of what happens. This is much due to Altman and his unique storytelling, which has been seen in both Nashville (1975) and The Player (1992). It is also a result of the brilliant performance of a magnificent cast guided into an every day rut, which many people go through. Short Cuts will ultimately offer the viewer a fulfilling cinematic experience, which presents much contemplation upon every day behavior.
Knocks Magnolia into a cocked hat
Andrew Urquhart | West Japan | 09/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"While Magnolia has often been compared (usually favourably) with Short Cuts, this is a fine chance for those of you who haven't done so to do a compare and contrast, 10 years after the mighty Altman put this out. I don't fancy Magnolia's odds though.

Based on a series of stories by Raymond Carver, this is perhaps Altman's most consistent, accessible work. Unfortunately, he followed it with 'Pret a Porter', but lets not concern ourselves with that.

What is interesting is how many of the ideas and characters seem to have been lifted outright by Paul Anderson (from the sketchy cop, to the troubled kid, to the overlapping storylines), but Altman pulls the whole thing off infinitely better, without the need to get Tom Cruise doing daft speeches about penises.

The cast is absolutely outstanding, though Tom Waits is probably my favourite, as a sleazy chauffeur. Even Andi McDowell is good, and that is saying something.

Make sure you put aside a few hours to appreciate this, cause it's a long one - but it doesn't drag for a second. Outstanding."
Shashank Tripathi | Gadabout | 07/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."