Notes from ningyo editions studio and gallery

Lobby Card: #5 : Short Cuts

david curcio

Lobby Card: Short Cuts

An “Altman-esque” film on every level (giant ensemble cast with lives and plot lines intersecting  unexpectedly ),  Short Cuts is (loosely) based on six Raymond Carver short stories and a poem.  Altman moves the action from Carver’s Pacific Northwest to sun-drenched LA, turning the city into a microcosm of humanity, where butterfly effects abound and the interactions of the disparate characters have repercussions of which they are wholly unaware, sometimes with devastating consequences.


Tom Waits in Short Cuts

The intertwining stories presented are too numerous to recount here, and one might do better to read the original stories first to gain an understanding of how lonely the lives of the characters are, and what pivotal moments they face.  There is not a bad performance in the film, but personal stand-outs include Tim Robbins’ in his best role as a wife-cheating motorcycle cop with a personal vendetta against the yapping family dog; Tom Waits and Lilly Tomlin as boozy, quarreling couple who, despite a marriage in constant peril, live with the tacit understanding that neither will ever leave; and Jennifer Jason Leigh helping make ends meet as a phone sex worker (talking guys off while changing diapers and feeding the baby) while her husband, played by the late, great, seething Chris Penn looks on with slow-simmering rage.  Lyle Lovett plays a lonely, overworked and unbalance baker with a penchant for cruel and petty acts of revenge, and Robert Downy Jr. (whose character is married to Lilly Taylor in a brilliant, introspective performance) acts here with comfort and ease.  As we watch him maneuver through the world with underachieving, pot smoking insouciance it seems we are watching the version of the characters he played in the eighties – in Tuff Turf, Back to School and Weird Science – all grown up, and not much changed.

Funny and devastating, “These are strange people,” just like us all.


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