terrains

by rantywoman

An earthquake occurs at a strategic moment in Short Cuts, relieving the building tension that permeates the relationships of the underpaid waitress, uptight cop, drunk hippies, world-weary nightclub singer, and children’s party clown whose several trajectories the film loosely describes, while in Magnolia a similar function is performed by a heavy shower of frogs falling from the sky. What ultimately unites these films, then, and marks them as a tremendously important stage in the history of Los Angeles’ cinematic image, is an effort to demonstrate that the myriad individuals who make up the region’s current population of over twelve million people can achieve meaningful interpersonal connections despite the postmodern tendency of all human interaction to seem like a series of unrelated transactions, and despite the apparent separation of each individual from the next in the city’s endless physical terrains.

–Mark Shiel, “The Southland on Screen,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of Los Angeles, p. 156

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