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Short Cuts (The Criterion Collection)

4.1 out of 5 stars 138 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The work of two great American artists merge in Short Cuts, maverick director Robert Altman’s kaleidoscopic adaptation of the stories of renowned author Raymond Carver. Epic in scale yet meticulously observed, the film interweaves the stories of twenty-two characters struggling to find solace and meaning in contemporary Los Angeles. The extraordinary ensemble cast includes Tim Robbins, Julianne Moore, Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Lemmon, and Jennifer Jason Leigh—all giving fearless performances in one of Altman’s most compassionate creations.

Additional Features

The music and source materials of Robert Altman's masterpiece takes center stage in this Criterion edition, the third Altman film from the revered label in 2004. There is no commentary track, and the only new segment is a 25-minute candid conversation between Altman and actor Tim Robbins. The archival material runs the gamut from rich (an earthy 90-minute behind-the-scenes documentary) from banal (an hourlong biography of writer Raymond Carver). Better for Carver fans is an hourlong audio interview. Three short deleted scenes and song demos from Dr. John are included, plus an intriguing music-only track of the film. The best extra is a book that fits inside of the DVD slipcase of the 10 Carver writings that inspired the film. --Doug Thomas

Special Features

  • Reflections on Short Cuts, a new 25-minute videotaped conversation with Robert Altman and Tim Robbins
  • Luck, Trust, and Ketchup: Robert Altman in Carver Country, a 90-minute documentary on the making of Short Cuts
  • Segment from BBC television's Moving Pictures tracing the development of Raymond Carver's short story "Jerry, Molly and Sam" for the film
  • Hour-long audio interview with Raymond Carver from 1983
  • To Write and Keep Kind, a PBS documentary on Carver
  • Deleted Scenes
  • A look inside the marketing of Short Cuts, featuring trailers and more than sixty print advertising campaigns
  • Original song demos by Dr. John
  • An essay by film critic Michael Wilmington and a guide to the music
  • Special reprint of Short Cuts, the Vintage Books companion collection of Raymond Carver short stories

Product Details

  • Actors: Andie MacDowell, Julianne Moore, Tim Robbins, Bruce Davison, Jack Lemmon
  • Directors: John Dorr, Mike Kaplan, Robert Altman
  • Writers: Robert Altman, Frank Barhydt, Raymond Carver
  • Producers: Cary Brokaw, David Levy
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: November 16, 2004
  • Run Time: 183 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000305ZXO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,868 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Short Cuts (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Robert Altman takes another large cast and tells engrossing, interconnected and overlapping tales of modern LA life as no one else can. Based on the short stories of Raymond Carver, yes, the movie is long, 189 minutes long to be exact. But what stories! They echoed and resonated and stayed with me and I can't imagine what you would cut. So, its 189 minutes. Take your time.
There isn't a "movie minute" in the whole film, which doesn't mean there aren't surprises. These people act like real people, they do what real people do, which means they surpise the hell out of you all the time. Character is revealed not so much by words but by unanticipated responses and actions.
I don't want to divulge too much of the individual stories as it would spoil the moments of revelation. Suffice it to say, Tim Robbin's arrogant philandering motorcyle cop, Fred Ward's obtuse & callous fisherman, Lori Singer's sad cellist, Jack Lemmon's pathetic loser, Lily Tomlin & Tom Waits alcoholic trailer trash, Lyle Lovett's mistaken baker, Chris Penn's inwardly raging pool- cleaner, Davidson's & MacDowell's anxious parents, Modine's jealous surgeon, Gallagher's vengeful Ex, and all the other terrific performances both light and dark, will stay with you when the movie has ended.
This is Altman back doing what Altman does best, catching lightning in a bottle, and great performances on celluloid. First rate!
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In society, people end up with careers and lives through situational opportunity and the coincidence of chance that struck them at a sudden moment. Short Cuts grasps this notion as a large number of characters, 22 to be precise, interact directly or indirectly through a wide variety of different opportunities and chances. The connection is that these character's ties are of variable closeness, as some know each other, some get to know each other, and some never get to know of the existence of one another, yet every action has an effect on everyone. It is this moment, which Robert Altman seizes, as Short Cuts becomes a tale of the little and epic episodes of life.

Robert Altman does a marvelous job in depicting the small daily deceits that are made in order to keep family life intact. The idea is based on Raymond Carver's work which Altman freely adapts onto the silver screen, and he does a marvelous job grabbing Carver's atmosphere. The atmosphere is of a detached society where no true values or customs exists, and only where a temporary fix can provide instant happiness. This is supported by an excellent cast consisting of talented actors such as Andie MacDowell, Jack Lemmon, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anne Archer, Matthew Modine, Julianne Moore, Robert Downey Jr., and Tim Robbins among many others.

In the opening scene, a large number of helicopters take off into the sunset while families can hear about threats of the Medfly through a broadcaster. The hovering sound of helicopters roams over the Los Angles urban and suburban communities as the news continues of the helicopters that are set out to spray an insecticide over L. A. in order to combat the threatening Medfly.
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Format: VHS Tape
Altman's singature classic with twenty two characters and ten nearly distinct tales. Imagine the ingenuity required to interweave all of that into a seamless whole, but Altman manages the feat deliciously.
While the individual threads may coax discussion, it is their blending that enables a variety of perspectives. Most of them are poignant, for instance the life of a pool cleaner and his wife who vocalizes orgasms on the phone in her job as a tele-sex worker while changing her kids' diapers. Or the life of a couple whose son has been in a tragic accident that brings their lives to an abrupt halt. Etc.
Be warned, many of these vignettes, while very tautly scripted and cleverly screenplayed, remain "unresolved," which may not work for some viewers. Personally I feel that films like this are more genuine reflections of the world in which we live: people often don't change, questions are frequently left unanswered, and unbecoming things do happen every day.
It's a pure pleasure to find a movie that weaves such a deep and intelligent tapestry of human lives, with all their idiosynchratic travails and triumphs. An absolute gem for you to own, not just rent.
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Format: DVD
Three and a half days in the life of Los Angeles. Tess (Annie Ross) and her daughter Zoe (Lori Singer) are a very musical family. Mother sings jazz at a seedy club where disagreeable thug Joe Robbins (Darnell Williams) hangs out boasting about his violent history and threatening people who complain about his poor manners. Zoe is only really able to communicate with other human beings in the languages of classical cello and self-harm. She gives a concert attended by Marian and Ralph Wyman (Julianne Moore and Matthew Modine) who strike up a conversation with the audience neighbours Claire and Stuart Kane (Anne Archer and Fred Ward) and end up inviting them to dinner. Claire works as a clown entertaining children while Stuart goes off fishing with his yahoo-ish friends Gordon (Buck Henry) and Vern (Huey Lewis). They find a young woman's corpse in the river but leave it there until they finish their fishing before they bother to report it. En route they had stopped off at a diner and had a good leer at the rear end of waitress Doreen (Lily Tomlin), who has a stormy marriage to Earl (Tom Waits), who is given to getting blind drunk at the same club where Tess performs. Next door to Tess and Zoe live the Finnegans, Ann (Andie McDowell) and her newsreader husband Howard (Bruce Davison), with their little boy Casey (Lane Cassidy) whose birthday is fast approaching. So Ann visits baker Andy Birkower (Lyle Lovett) to order a very special cake. But then Casey is run over by Doreen on his way to school and has to go to hospital where, just to complicate life, Paul (Jack Lemmon), Howard's long estranged, gloriously self-centred and tactless father, who cannot remember his ailing grandson's name, decides to show up on a bridge-mending mission.Read more ›
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