For The First Time: Short Cuts (dir by Robert Altman)

Having not read the stories that the film is based on, there's always the niggling worry that I'm missing something.  However, with Short Cuts, the film is so thoroughly engrossed in its characters that it's difficult to believe that anything was left out. This is a film that feels like it was made to be viewed in film school.  It feels like it's the movie that Magnolia and Crash would look to as their starting points.  It's meticulously controlled chaos, due to Robert Altman's masterful touch. Famous for his large casts and layered dialog, both of which are at work here, he also manages to get the performances of a career out of some of his actors.  The actors that are already great, shine even brighter, bringing a vibrancy to the weird and seedy side of suburban L.A.  While the overall narrative may lack coherence, by which I mean, as a first time viewer 20 years after its release, I was expecting there to be some sort of grand intersection of characters to inject a kind of decipher key to the storytelling, each tale stands out on its own, odd merits.  There's a perfectly drawn out tension to each tale, that's almost imperceptible until you realize you've let out a sigh of relief when some of the stories come to rather sedate conclusions.  For those that don't there's a sense of vindication for realizing you've been put on your guard.But even then, the twists and turns go by with an almost muted normality for this almost foreign world, as if asking "what else did you expect from a world that poisons itself?"  If only we could all feel our own every day moments of life as poignantly as we're encouraged to feel those of this movie's characters.


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