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Short Cuts

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Short Cuts

Starring: Tim Robbins, Robert Downey Jr.
Director: Robert Altman
Rated: R
RunTime: 189 Minutes
Release Date: October 1993
Genre: Drama

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

SHORT CUTS is a dozen short stories all neatly woven together into a seamless whole. It has 3 or 4 dozen stars in it - basically every major or minor star within 30 miles of Hollywood boulevard has a part. In SHORT CUTS, among others are: Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davison, Jack Lemmon, Julianne Moore, Matthew Modine, Anne Archer, Fred Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Chris Penn, Josette Maccario, Robert Downey Jr., Madeleine Stowe, Tim Robbins, Lily Tomlin, Frances McDormand, Peter Gallagher, Lori Singer, Lyle Lovett, and even Alex Trebek. Finally, it is a war picture since it describes itself as "set in LA during the Medfly wars." Most of all, however, it is a Robert Altman film.

Let me be candid with you and confess that I have seen most of Altman's works, and I generally rank them from so-bad-I-walked-out to watchable-with-some-good-parts. This movie blew me away, perhaps because I love documentaries so much (e.g., SHERMAN'S MARCH or 35 UP). The screenwriters (Robert Altman, Frank Barhydt, and Raymond Carver) and the editor (Geraldine Peroni) take about 12 hours worth of material and boil it down to 3 short hours of utter fascination.

With the exception of the bad singer who sang terrible, cliched songs, every character was extremely interesting and different. It was a tribute to the script that you could even get to recognize much less care about this many characters in so short a time. I admit it did start a bit slow since it had a lot of people to introduce. The hospital scene with the very sick little boy was so real that I had to keep myself twice from praying for him!

The camerawork and editing was handled especially well - never choppy, yet it switched around a lot among the stories. They used the technique popularized in the movie SLACKER where the character in story A goes by the character in story B and the camera switches from A to B without changing momentum. Also, most of the stories had a character that linked it to another.

That the occupations were so varied was another reason it had a documentary feel. We had swimming pool cleaners, doctors, artists, makeup students, unemployed, clowns, airline pilots, housewives, etc. Made it feel like a real cross section of society. Like most Hollywood movies however they have no idea how many people smoke these days. 80% of the people smoked cigarettes in this movie whereas it is closer to 20% in the real world. Also too much smoking of dope in the show as sort of a natural thing to do. One of the lines in the movie was "All they ever do in LA is snort coke and shout."

SHORT CUTS runs 3:07, but I would not have wanted them to cut it down at all. It is rated R for drug use, nudity, sex, etc. It would be okay for older teenagers if you go with them. I am still thinking about the show, give it *** 1/2, and recommend it to you highly.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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