Thursday, October 1, 2015

Short Cuts (1993)

Back in college I was able to get my English professor to let me write a paper comparing Short Cuts to the Raymond Carver stories it adapts. My thesis at the time was centered on the relationship between Robert Altman's propensity for long, wide takes and Carver's unadorned, minimalist prose style. Essentially the idea being that both authors lay it all out there and it's up to us to connect the dots.

Since then, my understanding of Robert Altman's cinema has grown significantly. Sure his camera likes to hang back so you can observe countless characters in the same frame, but he's still showing us what he wants us to see. If something is truly important he will either zoom in on or pan over to it. Sometimes he'll even cut in for emphasis. The same goes for Carver's short, blunt sentences. He might not be using many words, but he picked them carefully. The same also goes for Mark Isham's roaming, jazzy score. It's all building to something.

Minimalism might look easy, but there's a lot more to it than you might think.

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