Posted by: kfugrip | September 5, 2007

Ensemble

I can see why people would compare P. T. Anderson and Robert Altman, and it’s due mainly to the similarities in their larger, ensemble, films. Short Cuts, by Robert Altman, was the one that I watched today. Short Cuts is the story of people, a phone sex operator, a helicopter pilot, a cop, etc…, living in Los Angeles. They come in contact with death, infidelity, alcoholism, and other symptoms of modern living.

I found the movie to be populated by interesting and three dimensional characters who I cared about. The structure, with the multiple story lines running simultaneously, was expertly executed (like Nashville and M.A.S.H) by Altman. The interactions between Tom Waits (all time badass!) and Lily Tomlin were realistic and beautiful. There are so many great actors and performances in this film that I could write 1000 words on it. Many of the scenes are done in one shot and it is a seamless blend with the rest of the picture. There are also zooms used and they actually work. Add Altman to the short-list of people who could successfully use the zoom shot (Kubrick is the other). I love this style of shooting, the antithesis of today’s hyper-kinetic camera work, and I see how using a cast of so many characters, and so many story lines, could use a grounding element like the long take, to orient the viewer. Not only were the takes long but there were few close-ups in the movie as well. This would be a great style to rip off.

I read almost nothing of the movie before I watched it, and even the links that I provide in this post are to items that I haven’t read. This wasn’t so much a conscious choice, as it was a lack of preparation. I have the Criterion Disc, so the supplemental material will educate me and enrich the movie, perhaps I’ll write more about it later.

What didn’t I like? Not much. I felt that it was a bit long and if it lost a couple of the characters it wouldn’t have suffered (hopefully the weakest performances would go). That’s about it. It also didn’t blow me away and while the story involved the theme of interconnectedness, it wasn’t on the main stage like it is in Crash or Babel.

4 stars

short-cuts.jpg

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Responses

  1. One of my favorite movies ever. 5 stars. Anderson basically lifted the entire structure for Magnolia, down to the “natural disaster” that happens in the end.

  2. That was my insinuation. I think that the event in Magnolia was more relevant and powerful but the movies are really similar.

  3. nice new header! i was getting kind of sick of looking at that octopus butthole…

  4. hey! that’s my rabbit!

  5. what number are you on? i can’t figure it out…i scanned through a bunch of reviews, but none of them have numbers…give me an update…!

  6. hey…stop ignoring my comment question!!!!!


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