4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Altman's Sprawling Masterpiece
Along with Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia, Robert Altman's 1993 epic Short Cuts is my favourite American film of the last 20 or so years. I was trying to think of any other films which could challenge these two and I was struggling - American Beauty, Schindler's List, There Will Be Blood, ... maybe. Short Cuts is also, for me, Altman's crowning career achievement,...
Published 22 months ago by Keith M
3.0 out of 5 stars Dated 90's multi-actor story fritter
This now-dated (1993) compilation of good actors tells an interesting story, whereby 22 individuals lives intersect. This LA tale has plenty going on and has some neat ideas but it does seem a bit breezy, light, scatty (such as the jazz singer and music) and lacks depth.
Overall, an ok sub-par watch, being much better in the 90's, with some nice performances...
Published 21 months ago by T. BROOKES
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Altman's Sprawling Masterpiece,
This review is from: Short Cuts [DVD] (DVD)Along with Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia, Robert Altman's 1993 epic Short Cuts is my favourite American film of the last 20 or so years. I was trying to think of any other films which could challenge these two and I was struggling - American Beauty, Schindler's List, There Will Be Blood, ... maybe. Short Cuts is also, for me, Altman's crowning career achievement, surpassing his other 'ensemble masterpiece' Nashville, and his other great films - MASH, McCabe and Mrs Miller and The Player. Altman was nominated for the Best Director Oscar for the film, but was beaten by Steven Spielberg for Schindler's List (perhaps not surprisingly).
The film Short Cuts, which is based on a selection of Raymond Carver short stories, is a true epic, coming in at three hours duration and telling the intertwining stories of 22 main characters. Set in Los Angeles, the film's human scale is colossal, dealing with the whole gamut of human experience and emotion - covering tragedy, comedy, depression, jealousy, suicide, sexual frustration, musical ambition, murder, infidelity, horror, death, hypocrisy and racial tension. The film also features an acting masterclass from Altman's superb cast, which features many American actors/actresses, relatively unknown at the time, who have developed into some of the top acting talent in Hollywood (for example, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Madeleine Stowe and Frances McDormand). The film also includes excellent performances by singer, and some-time actor, Tom Waits, and by established Hollywood actors such as Tim Robbins, Matthew Modine, Robert Downey Jnr. and, one of the all-time great screen actors, Jack Lemmon, who delivers an emotional tour-de-force performance as returning father, Paul Finnigan.
In the film, Altman also gives a significant nod to nature, in effect demonstrating that we humans can cheat, abuse, deceive, taunt, amuse and live pretty much as we choose, but eventually nature will prevail, whether it be in the form of the potentially dangerous pesticides being used to spray crops (and inadvertently, homes) at the start of the film, or in the form of the earthquake which disrupts the lives of the film's protagonists at the close of the film.
The complexity, and multi-stranded nature, of the narrative render any summary description pretty meaningless, not to say, impossible to construct. Suffice to say, there are a number of individual performances, and scenes, worthy of specific mention, including Tim Robbins and Frances McDormand's brilliantly hilarious affair, respectively as bragging, but inwardly vulnerable, cop Gene, and devious, scheming lover, Betty. Jennifer Jason Leigh is also excellent as the foul-mouthed, phone sex worker Lois, a job she is happy to perform as she changes her baby's diapers, much to the disgust and frustration of husband Jerry (Chris Penn). Also worthy of mention is the brilliant scene, as confusion at a photoshop results in an exchange of expressions of horror between Buck Henry and Fred Ward's fishermen and friends Honey (Lili Taylor) and Lois, as each picks up the other group's gory snaps.
But, for me, there are two standout scenes. The first is that of Jack Lemmon's impassioned diatribe as father, Paul Finnigan, to 'long lost' son Howard (Bruce Davison) as he admits to a soul-destroying infidelity in his past. The gradual build-up of tension and despair in his performance is a pointed reminder that Lemmon was one of the screen's finest actors, full stop, and not just a great comic actor. The second, in another devastating denouement, comes towards the end of the film, when, under pressure from husband Ralph (a great performance from the sadly 'lost' Matthew Modine), wife Marianne played by the brilliant Julianne Moore, finally admits to her own past infidelity. Moore, probably the best American actress of her generation, delivers another superb performance in this film, to match those she has subsequently given in films such as Far From Heaven, The Hours, Boogie Nights, The Kids Are All Right, and, another highpoint, Magnolia.
In summary, Short Cuts is a compelling and emotionally-charged masterclass in acting and film-making.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among my all-time top ten films!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Short Cuts [VHS]  (VHS Tape)I agree with the previous reviewer: Robert Altman's 'Short Cuts' is a majestic, engrossing film - among his best movies, in my humble opinion. Even though it's three hours long and follows a wide variety of characters, it never becomes boring (unlike Paul Thomas Anderson's extremely similar recent film, 'Magnolia', which looks messy in comparison with the mastery of 'Short Cuts').
The film truly does justice to the collection of Raymond Carver short stories upon which it's based, though I was surprised to realise, when I read Carver's 'Short Cuts' collection, that the original stories weren't all interconnected. This film also features some great character acting - Tim Robbin's sleazy, corrupt policeman is perhaps the finest among some very fine roles.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Earthquakes,
This review is from: Short Cuts [DVD] (DVD)I hadn`t seen this long, kaleidoscopic movie since its release in 1993, so I was relieved and delighted to find I enjoyed it just as much twenty years on - perhaps even more so, as many of the actors in the massive, starry cast were much less known back then, or in some cases have now all but disappeared from view. What`s happened to Bruce Davison, Fred Ward, Lili Taylor, Lori Singer, and even the marvellous Matthew Modine? All give lovely performances, along with similarly superb ones from Julianne Moore (a natural redhead), the late Chris Penn, Anne Archer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Robert Downey Jr., a hilarious Tim Robbins as a wife-cheating, breast-beating cop, Frances McDormand brilliant (as ever) as a sexy single mother, Jack Lemmon in an affecting role as a long-absent father, heavenly Madeleine Stowe - sadly all but invisible these days - as Robbins` long-suffering wife, and the unlikely yet imperfectly perfect pairing of Lily Tomlin and the great Tom Waits, who, as it turns out, can`t live without each other and whose oddball romance is a joy to behold whenever either of them is onscreen.
Waits gave the best performance in the pompously (and inaccurately) titled Bram Stoker`s Dracula the same year, as Redfield the madman, and he proves again here what an unconventionally watchable actor he is.
Jazz vocalist Annie Ross must get a special mention, as both singer - her songs punctuate the story - and actress, in a role she grasps with both hands and doesn`t let go of.
The credits tell us Short Cuts is "based on the writings of Raymond Carver" and that is an honest way of putting it. Altman has somehow caught the spirit of `Carver Country` with its squabbling spouses, sudden tragedies, banal conversations and overlapping lives. Most of the cast in some way meet or are in the same space as each other in the course of the three-hour film (it`s long, but necessarily so) which at first looks a little like a cute ploy, but once you get used to it the whole thing becomes fascinating.
I fell in love with this film all over again, and will watch it about once a year. It`s worth it just to see again Anne Archer driving her car in her clown costume and make-up, being questioned by Tim Robbins` cop; Madeleine Stowe`s tired amusement at Robbins` latest lie; Lyle Lovett`s shy, deadpan malevolence as a proud baker; Chris Penn`s impotence in the face of wife Jennifer Jason Leigh`s dispassionately dirty phone sex; Frances McDormand`s flirty, flighty neediness; Lemmon`s sad, exasperated face as he confesses to son Bruce Davison; Modine`s righteously tortured jealousy in the face of Julianne Moore`s naked, unconcerned briskness; Lily & Tom doing their own dance of sloppy love to a music only they can hear...
Something like Little Earthquakes might have been a less pat title for the film, but whatever you call it, this is sumptuous cinema from a master director. One gets the feeling with Altman that he must have emerged from the womb directing, so seamless is it. He`s great with actors, and you get the impression they wanted to give their best for him. They do, all of them.
I haven`t even mentioned Lori Singer`s forlorn cellist, Andie MacDowell as a tragic mother, Peter Gallagher cheerfully cutting up the place with a hacksaw, or the fishing trip...
See for yourself.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Short Cuts here!,
This review is from: Short Cuts [VHS]  (VHS Tape)Absolutely top film (must have inspired 'Magnolia'). Refreshing to see the short stories of the late, great Raymond Carver successfully transfered to screen. Wonderful cast including the unforgettable Julianne Moore as naked artiste.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long but worth it,
This review is from: Short Cuts [DVD] (DVD)This movie is absolutely brilliant. You'll watch it and not realise it to a few days later, but the way the stories and lives are woven makes it a gritty and engaging film. There are so many great actors in the film that give class performances that singling out a singling person would be wrong. YES it is very long and YES at times it seems like it is going nowhere, but at the end you'll appreciate it so much, it's like watching 12 movies at once. Probably the 1st and greatest portamento movie of all time, often copied (tarantino) and never bettered. BUY IT!
3.0 out of 5 stars Dated 90's multi-actor story fritter,
This review is from: Short Cuts [DVD] (DVD)This now-dated (1993) compilation of good actors tells an interesting story, whereby 22 individuals lives intersect. This LA tale has plenty going on and has some neat ideas but it does seem a bit breezy, light, scatty (such as the jazz singer and music) and lacks depth.
Overall, an ok sub-par watch, being much better in the 90's, with some nice performances from Lemmon, Robbins, MacDowell and Modine in particular.
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but what else?,
This review is from: Short Cuts [DVD] (DVD)This long (3 hours) movie is surely entertaining, with a number of stories interleaving and taking place in that crazy place that must be L.A.
It also surely well played (both major an minor roles, although there are really no major roles here) and the cast is stunning.
It offers times of sincere hilarity, as well as times of sadness, and disgust.
The soundtrack is excellent and contributes to the feel of the movie.
However, at the end of it, one raises from the chair and nothing much is left. One also wonders, if there was even a small part of reality is in these stories, L.A. is definitely not a place to live.
5.0 out of 5 stars A good product and good delivery,
This review is from: Criterion Collection: Short Cuts [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)This DVD arrived promptly and in good condition. I was pleased to find it also included a useful background booklet. I am very happy with the service.
5.0 out of 5 stars expectations over-fulfilled,
This review is from: Short Cuts [DVD] (DVD)For a long time I have been waiting for this film to come on DvD and as I am german I could not find a version I liked because it is so rare in germany. now I am able to enjoy this ingenious piece of movie history packed full of stars in the cast. I can't get enough of the fine woven intertwined storyboard and the many details (of which I still discover new ones whenever I watch the movie).
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic,
This review is from: Short Cuts [DVD] (DVD)The technique of inter-weaving stories - the idea of any thought is just six moves away from a linked other sort of premise - has been tried many times. But, never more successfully than this. Tenuous connections pull it all together. Watch it once and I suggest you won't wait long before you view it again. And then, again.
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Short Cuts [DVD] by Robert Altman (DVD - 2008)