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Why the birthday party didn’t happen

Michael Wood, 10 March 1994

Short Cuts 
directed by Robert Altman.
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Short Cuts: The Screenplay 
by Robert Altman and Frank Barhydt.
Capra/Airlift, 144 pp., £12.99, October 1993, 0 88496 378 0
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Short Cuts 
by Raymond Carver, introduced by Robert Altman.
Harvill, 157 pp., £6.99, March 1994, 0 00 272704 8
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... Robert Altman’s Short Cuts is a long, loose-looking movie, but the looseness is an effect, carefully worked for. Plenty of themes recur throughout – insecurity, chance, rage, damage, the long, bruising war between men and women – and although there are fourteen or fifteen stories here (based on extrapolated from ten stories by Raymond Carver – the handouts and the introduction solemnly say nine stories and a poem, but the so-called poem is also a prose narrative), they are intricately stitched together, like a miniaturised Comédie humaine set in Los Angeles ...

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