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