Friday, May 8, 2009

Short Cuts @ Charles Theatre

There is no Saturday show this week because of the MD Film Fest
Monday, May 11 at 7 PM
Thursday, May 14 at 9 PM

1993 Robert Altman. Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davison, Jack Lemmon, Julianne Moore, Matthew Modine, Anne Archer, Fred Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Chris Penn, Lili Taylor, Robert Downey Jr., Madeleine Stowe, Tim Robbins, Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, Frances McDormand, Peter Gallagher, Lyle Lovett, etc.

Short Cuts may be based on the short stories of Raymond Carver, but Carver fans looking for a faithful adaptation of the writer's work won't find it here. Whereas Carver drew his grim but illuminating portraits of the working poor with a minimalist's precision, Altman is an uber-maximalist, painting on a broad canvas that limns the interconnections among a wide spectrum of Angelinos, casting a much colder eye on the proceedings and coming up with something close to nihilism. The complicated tapestry of ordinary lives is borrowed from Nashville, but Short Cuts lacks the original's (and Carver's) generous attitude towards its characters as well as its political bite; we're on the outside looking in, and the despair never seems quite real. What Short Cuts does have is the stuff that remained consistent throughout Altman's career: his ability to wrest brilliant performances from actors great and not-so-great, his genius at making his open but incredibly complex narratives look effortless and unforced, and his refusal to yield to sentiment. Compare the film to its many imitators-among them Magnolia, Crash, and Babel-and it's clear the Master re-doing himself still has a few tricks to teach the copycats. 187 m. (Linda DeLibero)