Short Cuts

Short Cuts

4.0 3
Director: Robert Altman, Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davison, Tim Robbins

Cast: Robert Altman, Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davison, Tim Robbins


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Robert Altman was by his nature a gambler, and when the commercial and critical success of The Player made him a bankable commodity again in Hollywood, he wasn't afraid to bet the house on his follow-up; based on a handful of short stories by Raymond Carver, Short Cuts was one of the most ambitious films of Altman's career, with twenty-two principle


Robert Altman was by his nature a gambler, and when the commercial and critical success of The Player made him a bankable commodity again in Hollywood, he wasn't afraid to bet the house on his follow-up; based on a handful of short stories by Raymond Carver, Short Cuts was one of the most ambitious films of Altman's career, with twenty-two principle characters and nine different stories darting in and out of the narrative arc. It was also one of Altman's greatest creative triumphs, and the Criterion Collection have given the movie an appropriately loving presentation in this two-disc DVD release. Short Cuts has been given a widescreen transfer for this release, letterboxed on conventional televisions at the aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16x9 monitors. The transfer was supervised by Geraldine Peroni, the film's editor, and was approved by Altman; the results capture the look of the film flawlessly, and is the next best thing to seeing a good print projected on a big screen. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 Stereo, and the fidelity is superb, capturing the rich detail that was typical for an Altman soundtrack with excellent clarity. The dialogue is in English, with optional English subtitles but no multiple language options, though one can listen to just the music for the picture on an isolated music track. The bonus disc is a treasure trove for fans of both Robert Altman and Raymond Carver. Along with three deleted scenes (nice to watch but hardly revelatory), the disc includes Luck, Trust and Ketchup: Robert Altman in Carver Country, a 90-minute documentary on the making of Short Cuts that includes extensive behind-the-scenes footage as well as interviews with Altman, Carver's widow Tess Gallagher and many members of the cast and creative team, along with an installment from the BBC series Moving Pictures that explores how one of Carver's stories was adapted for the picture. Also on board is To Write And Keep Kind, an hour-long PBS documentary on Carver's life and work, and an audio-only interview with Carver which was conducted in 1983. Altman and actor Tim Robbins are featured in an on-camera chat in which they talk about how Short Cuts was made, and three demo recordings by Dr. John of songs he co-wrote for the movie appear in audio-only form. Several trailers, television spots and posters are featured in a section on how New Line Cinema tried to sell such a complex work to the mass movie-going audience. And finally, the accompanying booklet includes a short appreciation of Short Cuts by critic Michael Wilmington as well as extensive credits. (An earlier edition also included a book with the Carver stories adapted for the film; it's not available with the 2008 edition, but Carver's original collections are still in print.) Until Short Cuts is released on Blu-Ray, this is without question the definitive presentation of one of the best American films of the 1990's, and anyone with an interest in Robert Altman's work would be well served by having this in their collection.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
In one of his most ambitious cinematic undertakings, director Robert Altman folded no less than ten of Raymond Carver’s short stories into this sprawling 1993 comedy-drama -- an audacious, star-studded epic that encompassed no fewer than 22 significant characters. Short Cuts reveals the variegated, unaccountable ways people react when fate hands them unexpected challenges, victories, and defeats. To wit: Bruce Davison and Andie MacDowell are devastated when their son is hit by a car driven by down-at-heels waitress Lily Tomlin, who is despondent over her crumbling marriage to chauffeur Tom Waits. Attending the boy is doctor Matthew Modine, who frets that his artist wife, Julianne Moore, may be having an affair. Her model, Madeleine Stowe, is married to L.A. cop Tim Robbins, who is cheating on her with Frances McDormand, herself recently separated from helicopter pilot Peter Gallagher. When Modine and Moore meet Anne Archer, who works as a clown at children’s birthday parties, they invite her and husband Fred Ward to dinner, but first Ward takes a fishing trip with buddies Buck Henry and Huey Lewis, during which they discover the body of a dead woman floating in the water. Altman and co-scripter Frank Barhydt show remarkable ingenuity in dovetailing the various vignettes (some of them inevitably more effective than others), and editor Geraldine Peroni juggles them with admirable dexterity. What’s important to remember is that there’s no central plot, only a theme. The film is carried by the interplay of its sharply delineated characters rather than a linear narrative, and the entertainment value lies in the richness of the ensemble performances. Over three hours long, Short Cuts is oddly titled -- but it’s a stunning achievement that ranks among the very best of Altman’s distinctive motion pictures.
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
A dazzling and dizzying adaptation of short stories by Raymond Carver, Short Cuts ranks with the finest work of Robert Altman's career; it's the sort of sprawling but intimate character piece for which he became known with such earlier classics as MASH (1970), Nashville (1975), and The Player (1992). While Altman's busy, overcrowded style might not seem a good match for Carver's clean lines and minimalist prose, Altman demonstrates an intuitive feel for the sleazy underside of Los Angeles (relocated from the Pacific Northwest in the original stories) that Carver's characters call home, and, like Carver, he knows how to let his characters express themselves with small gestures that say more than long speeches. The stories wind around each other with just enough connecting threads to hold the tapestry together. And as is his hallmark, Altman has assembled a superb cast and given them plenty of room to work; Jack Lemmon's monologue about cheating on his wife may be one of the finest dramatic moments of his career, and celebrated jazz singer Annie Ross creates an unforgettable portrait of a woman lost in her music. Short Cuts is the work of a master filmmaker in full command of his craft, and it's so absorbing that at the end of its three-hour running time, you may find yourself wishing you could spend even more time with these characters.

Product Details

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Special Features

Disc One: ; Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by editor Geraldine Peroni and approved by director Robert Altman; Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack mix, plus isolated music track; ; Disc Two:; Video conversation between Robert Altman and Tim Robbins; Luck, Trust and Ketchup: Robert Altman in Carver Country, a feature-length documentary on the making of Short Cuts; To Write and Keep Kind, a PBS documentary on the life of Raymond Carver; Segment from BBC Television's Moving Pictures tracing the screenplay's development; One-hour 1983 audio interview with Carver, conducted for the American Audio Prose Library; Original demo recordings of the Doc Pomus - Mac Rebennack songs, performed by Dr. John; Deleted scenes; A look inside the marketing of Short Cuts

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Andie MacDowell Ann Finnegan
Bruce Davison Howard Finnigan
Tim Robbins Gene Shepard
Chris Penn Jerry Kaiser
Julianne Moore Marian Wyman
Anne Archer Claire Kane
Matthew Modine Dr. Ralph Wyman
Jack Lemmon Paul Finnegan
Fred Ward Stuart Kane
Jennifer Jason Leigh Lois Kaiser
Lili Taylor Honey Bush
Robert Downey Bill Bush
Madeleine Stowe Sherri Shepard
Lily Tomlin Doreen Piggot
Tom Waits Earl Piggott
Frances McDormand Betty Weathers
Peter Gallagher Stormy Weathers
Annie Ross Tess Trainer
Lori Singer Zoe Trainer
Lyle Lovett Andy Bitkower
Buck Henry Gordon Johnson
Huey Lewis Vern Miller
Jarrett Lennon Chad Weathers
Danny Darst Aubrey Bell
Darnell Williams Joe Robbins
Michael Beach Jim Stone
Andi Chapman Harriet Stone
Debbie Falconer Barbara
Susie Cusack Nancy
Charles Rocket Wally Littleton
Jane Alden Mrs. Schwarzmeier
Dirk Blocker Diner Customer
Natalie Strong Mourner
Jay Della Bartender
Alex Trebek Himself
Jerry Dunphy Himself
Terry Adams The Low Note Quintet #1
Greg Cohen The Low Note Quintet #3
Robert DoQui Knute Willis

Technical Credits
Robert Altman Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Stephen Altman Production Designer
Frank Barhydt Screenwriter
Cary Brokaw Producer
Scott Bushnell Executive Producer
Susan J. Emshwiller Set Decoration/Design
Jerry Fleming Art Director
John Hay Costumes/Costume Designer
Mark Isham Score Composer
David Levy Associate Producer
Walt Lloyd Cinematographer
Christopher Nelson Special Effects
Allan Nicholls Asst. Director
Geraldine Peroni Editor
Diana Pokorny Production Designer
John Pritchett Musical Direction/Supervision
Jeff Rafner Asst. Director
Greg Walker Stunts

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Short Cuts: Feature Film
1. Logos [:26]
2. Opening Credits [9:14]
3. "Prisoner of Life" [2:43]
4. Stormy Weathers [4:52]
5. "Neighbors" [4:14]
6. "C-R-A-C-K" [6:25]
7. Casey's Accident [4:04]
8. "A Stroke of Luck" [4:18]
9. "Casey, Wake Up!" [3:33]
10. "One Big Candle" [2:15]
11. Dr. Wyman [2:34]
12. "How Many Clowns Can You Fit in That Car/" [3:31]
13. The Body [4:13]
14. Suzy Is Missing [4:10]
15. "Beyond Natural Color" [2:17]
16. Birthday Party [5:02]
17. "Conversation On a Bar Stool" [4:39]
18. String Players Are Weird [6:24]
19. Father and Son [6:56]
20. Hit and Run [6:14]
21. "He's Playing Around" [7:15]
22. "An Unlucky Day" [7:24]
23. Virtual Reality [5:32]
24. "We Found a Body Up There" [3:38]
25. "To Hell With Love" [8:56]
26. "Till the Wheels Come Off" [7:20]
27. "This Is Your Lucky Day" [5:32]
28. Code Blue [6:57]
29. "Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?" [9:11]
30. Jeopardy [6:16]
31. "I Don't Know You" [8:23]
32. Behind Closed Doors [3:36]
33. "A Smokin' Good Time" [5:55]
34. "I Threw It Away" [1:56]
35. The Earthquake [5:59]
36. "Here's to Lemonade"/End Credits [5:45]
Disc #2 -- Short Cuts: Supplements
1. Altman and Carver [2:18]
2. Tess Gallagher [1:53]
3. Adapting Carver [2:29]
4. Altman's Career [1:39]
5. Lily Tomlin and Tom Waits [3:05]
6. On Storytelling [1:40]
7. Tim Robbins and Madeleine Stowe [6:57]
8. Fishing [3:32]
9. "The Thingness of the Body" [1:43]
10. Experiments [3:41]
11. Tension and Menace [3:05]
12. Carver in Altman Country [4:03]
13. Trust [3:20]
14. Anne Archer and Fred Ward [4:30]
15. "Lemonade" [2:13]
16. Lori Singer [2:23]
17. Annie Ross [4:37]
18. The Low Note [2:50]
19. Luck [4:10]
20. Jack Lemmon [4:23]
21. Lyle Lovett [3:20]
22. Dailies [4:26]
23. Sexuality [3:30]
24. Trusting the Moment [6:44]
25. Appreciations [3:27]
26. Ketchup: End Credits [3:46]
1. "No Need" [3:46]
2. "Shiftless" [5:22]
3. "The Other Life" [7:04]
4. "From the East, Light" [4:52]
5. "Chef's House" [2:35]
6. "Cheers" [3:28]
7. "The Best Time of the Day" [5:39]
8. "The Cobweb" [2:48]
9. "The River" [4:38]
10. "Cathedral" [4:55]
11. "Errand" [2:36]
12. "Late Fragments"/Credits [8:56]


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