Monday, January 17, 2005

Short Cuts

A sprawling thing, owing more to Carver in terms of plot than theme, though the big one, the most consistent one, that of human disconnect, is here, in the film, which about LA, or Altman’s vision of LA, as much as anything, an LA full of disconnected people, floating through each others lives, forced through each others lives, in these plots manufactured to connect, the strange and almost happy music, the strange heaviness with which certain performers play their parts, this uneven film, Tom Waite’s fantastic performance vs Lyle Lovett and Huey Lewis bombing; that one unforgettable scene, Mathew Modine’s quietly desperate character, letting the air out of the balloon, opening his mouth as if it he who is crying, the other one, Julianne Moore, standing there, waistdownnaked so long that you feel you really know her; and one of my favorite love stories, between the character played by Tom Waites and Lily Tomlin, that makes you believe a man can still be forgiven and can still be worthy of it; a film that plays like a tribute to Passive-Aggression, the langue official of the modern relationship; all these sad people and all these people trying to be happy, every now and then one of Carver’s small good things, a film more cynical than it intends to be, one in which the stories are fitfully unresolved; an interesting film, not quite hypnotic, but one that you follow even as you see through it, even when the humor feels sophomoric, over the top, out of place, when the situations smell of exaggeration and stereotype, each of these faults followed up, balanced out by moments of absolute humanity, these false and forced performances juxtaposed against, mixed in beside, fearless and near perfect performances; this film where your find yourself, through Altman’s lens, looking at us, one of us, a few of us, what it is like to be human, though not what it means, and from what piece of fiction should we really ask that anyway?