A small boy's birthday cake waits unclaimed at a bakery. A woman makes a shocking confession while rinsing spilled wine from a skirt. Catch from an ill-fated fishing trip goes up in flames on a patio grill. Natural and unnatural forces interrupt a family picnic in the California hills. Before Magnolia (1999) and Crash (2004), there was Robert Altman's Short Cuts (1993), a film whose characters' lives are as full of intersections as Ventura Boulevard.
One of the most memorable food scenes here is the bittersweet exchange between a waitress, Doreen Piggot (Lily Tomlin), and her estranged limo-driver husband, Earl (Tom Waits), who comes into the diner noticeably rumpled after a night spent sleeping outside their trailer. Doreen is stubborn, but we can tell she's touched. Doreen: People are looking. You wanna order something? Earl: Yeah. How about you on a bed of rice? Doreen: Cut it out…You want a cup of coffee? Earl: Oh, yeah. Give me some coffee. How about an egg sandwich? Doreen: With a broke yolk? Earl: Yeah, with a broke yolk [sniffles]. Thanks, baby. I don't know about you, but the broke yolk gets me every time. Nora