Short Cuts

Robert Altman returned to the anthology mode of Nashville and A Wedding to offer 22 crisscrossing characters and nine loosely related plots set in Los Angeles over a breezy 189 minutes (1993). Inevitably it’s a mixed bag, though the film’s assurance in keeping it all coherent is at times exhilarating. The script, authored by Altman and Frank Barhydt, claims to be based on the writings of Raymond Carver, but apart from a few characters and situations that have been borrowed as launching pads, the connections to Carver are pretty tenuous. Some of the best actorly turns here are furnished by Bruce Davison, Jack Lemmon, Madeleine Stowe, Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, Frances McDormand, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Lili Taylor, and Robert Downey Jr., while most of the other playersAndie MacDowell, Julianne Moore, Matthew Modine, Anne Archer, Fred Ward, Chris Penn, Tim Robbins, Annie Ross, Lori Singer, Buck Henrydo the best they can with relatively skimpy material. (JR)

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