My favorite film of 1993 (aside from Tony Scott’s Quentin Tarantino-scripted “True Romance), was Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts.” “Short Cuts” is a devastating 3 hour-plus epic about the damaged lives of multiple souls in the “City of Angels,” circa 1993. The movie complies several short stories by Raymond Carver and intersects the stories, so that the characters of each story interact with each other at various times for various reasons. It shows the randomness of life and how all of our actions (no matter how small) can have an impact on the world around us. Seeing it during a not-so-great point in my life, the film hit me like a brick to the face and I was shaken for days. This is not to say the film lacks humor. The movie is oftentimes hysterically funny, albeit in a very dark way. It also features brilliant performances by a diverse, all-star cast, including Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Penn, Fred Ward, Tom Waits, Anne Archer, Madeline Stowe, Jack Lemmon, Andie McDowell, Lily Tomlin, Lili Taylor, Frances McDormand, Buck Henry, Annie Ross, Lori Singer, Matthew Modine, Julianne Moore, and several others.
“Short Cuts” was Altman’s ultra-ambitious follow-up to his 1992 comeback film “The Player.” However, unlike “The Player,” “Short Cuts” didn’t fare too well at the box office. Despite this, “Short Cuts” was on many Top 10 lists and Altman was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director. While I enjoy “The Player,” “Short Cuts” is a far better film and its influence has grown tremendously over the years and its format about multiple characters/stories intersecting has resulted in some great films (P.T. Anderson’s “Magnolia”) and not-so-great (Paul Haggis’s “Crash”). An underrated masterpiece and my all-time favorite Robert Altman film.
This selection on my all-time favorite film list shouldn’t come as any surprise if you’ve been following the blog recently. I recently posted two clips from this film due to director Tony Scott’s recent demise. While the clip on the rooftop between Christian Slater’s and Patricia Arquette’s characters is my favorite scene from the film, this one also ranks high on the list.
Since my entry about this film on my previous blog is gone, I’ll briefly summarize why this film has so much meaning for me (and you can skip this part, if you’ve read this already on my earlier blog). I saw this movie during the fall of 1993, which at that point in my life, I was very similar to Christian Slater’s character Clarence: no girlfriend, dead end jobs, and the only beacon of light was maybe the chance I’d get accepted into a grad school program somewhere. Anyway, not only was this movie enormously entertaining, it gave me a beacon of hope, in an odd way. Granted, my personal beacon didn’t involve a suitcase full of illegal drugs, a prostitute girlfriend, and 10 million bullets, but it did put a big smile on my face back in the day … and still does.
This is my favorite Quentin Tarantino film, even though he was only the screenwriter. Tarantino has admitted that Clarence is autobiographical to a certain degree, because he was a lot like him when he was in his 20s. It’s a very special script and Tony Scott so respected it that he allowed Tarantino to be an integral part of the process of making the film (something unheard of in Hollywood). Their most passionate argument during the making of “True Romance” involved the ending. In Tarantino’s original, Clarence dies. However, Scott made an impassioned case to Tarantino to let Clarence live, not for commercial reasons, but because he said he loved Clarence and Alabama (Arguette’s character) so much, he wanted them to have a happy ending. Scott’s respect for Tarantino was such that he shot two endings, one where Clarence dies and the one where he lives. And Tarantino admitted that Scott’s ending was the better ending for the film that Scott made. A true gentleman’s agreement if there ever was one.
Yes, this is Tarantino so the attached scene is not safe for work or little ones.