Short Cuts Reviews
While there's no cinematic equivalent to the Mona Lisa, I submit a list of the top ten American movies of the last 50 years in no particular order:
The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Pulp Fiction, Blade Runner, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mullholland Drive, Tree of Life, Boyhood, Short Cuts.
Whaaaaaa... Short Cuts? Is it even Altman's best work? Well, everything unique and original in the other movies on this list was done before... by Altman. (Is there anything the man hasn't tried?) And everything Altman achieved in his career can be summed up in Short Cuts.
Five of the entries on my list are genre intact: gangster, war, bio, sci-fi, adventure. Lynch is a genre of his own (a master of hook and subvert), Pulp Fiction is pomo-noir with a swagger, Tree of Life, an audacious and transcendent poem, Boyhood, literally an epic achievement of dedication and commitment. Short Cuts doesn't seem to fit in as it is merely an observation of lives and love. But what observations! What lives! What heartbreaking affection. All underscored with a resonating heartbeat patching into so many paths, teetering on the brink of disaster and threatening to explode, which it does, in the form of a climactic planetary stroke. Nothing brings people together quite like a natural disaster. An earthquake, tremoring just enough to inform us of our place in history on the cosmic map. Enough to bring us down to earth, reboot our egos, and put multiple perspectives in perspective. Enough to appreciate the simple state of being.
A larger-than-life baroque master is at the helm, warbling out contrapuntal narratives and swirling themes orchestrated to perfection. Multiple story-lines wavering under one very singular umbrella. And under Altman's protective cover the talent runs free and easy, playful and experimental, ironic and sincere. The key characters in one story become walk-throughs in another, paradoxically tethered and disconnected from the self, from family, community, and life. Boundaries are crossed and souls get lost. We're all the same if only by not knowing what our needs are or why we're even here. With nothing to say except everything is exceptional, infinite and empty. And life is short. Shorts Cuts of scenes stories words actions desire love loss lies lust faith wonder and devotion. Heck, I'd see it again only to watch Tom Waits and Lily Tomlin shack up.
Some movies claim to be infinitely entertaining, some maintain they can be viewed repeatedly without losing their initial charm, some insist they never age, I know only one that can lay claim to all such conceits. Short Cuts is like falling in love. It delivers quietly, wonderfully, naturally, tenderly, simply and deeply.
It was supposed to be one of the few movie trying to interweaving several separate plotlines into one story/movie back in the '90s. Some plotlines/ characters are really interesting, Tim Robbins, Frances McDormand, Peter Gallagher for example; some could be totally wiped out to me- Robert Downey Jr.'s for instance. Nevertheless, this was still one significant piece in movies-making history, despite certain flaws for today's standard.