Question of the Day: You Gotta See This

26 08 2006

Short Cuts
What movie would you really recommend renting or seeing this weekend?

Well, I suppose I should pick something life- and society-changing like Brokeback Mountain, but that’s just too obvious. And having seen it fairly recently, I’m sure, you already know that love is a force of nature.

So I think I’ll go for something you may have forgotten—or, even, never seen: Short Cuts. Short Cuts was a 1993 release from Robert Altman, the well-known, well-appreciated director of Mash, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Nashville, The Player, and Gosford Park, among others. Short Cuts is his masterwork. It’s an adaptation of short stories by Raymond Carver, and it’s shot in typical Altman style. There’s an ensemble cast; noteworthy, plot-progressing music; and an almost dizzying (but not really!) array of subplots that dart around one another and, thanks to Altman, semi-connect. The film is actually three hours long, but it just whizzes past you. Really.

The cast includes Jack Lemmon; Julianne Moore; Matthew Modine; Jennifer Jason Leigh; the late Chris Penn; Robert Downey, Jr.; Frances McDormand; Lily Tomlin; Tom Waits; and many others. And among that “many others” is the brilliant Tim Robbins, who—I might add—was and is the sexiest man on the planet. It’s an incredible cast, and you almost wish you had more time with each and every one of the actors.

What’s the film about? Well, it’s about real life—the nuts and bolts of everyday life. It’s about 1990s Los Angeles. It’s about living in a crazy world that doesn’t allow us to interconnect. It’s about what it takes to make people feel.

Short Cuts was unfortunately overshadowed in 1993 by another excellent film, Schindler’s List. If you haven’t seen Short Cuts, you should absolutely rent it. There’s a fairly recent Criterion Collection DVD issue that gives the film its due, too.

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