You can't help but compare it to the other big L.A. Statement Movies--Altman's SHORT CUTS, and P.T. Anderson's MAGNOLIA. I like Rudolph's way better than either of those: it's gentler, humbler, more observant, truer. Limiting himself to a dozen or so L.A. habitues, Rudolph starts with one funny, correct move: no movie people. The dances of disconnection, attempted connection, failed connection, and--stunning!--connection accomplished are as tender and as finely, thinly observed as Rudolph has ever pulled off. So many beautiful moments here: the best comes when Keith Carradine, as a dupe of his sleepy-stud character from NASHVILLE, breaks up a romance to go on a healing mission with a half-crazy housewife (Geraldine Chaplin). When his philandering with her rescues her marriage during a tense phone call in his apartment, Carradine's face spreads with gladness and relief. The rightness and the unexpectedness of the moment is fantastic. Even more than the goofy, enjoyably romantic CHOOSE ME, this is the one where Rudolph got it all right. And no other movie captures L.A.'s peculiar loneliness like this one: he doesn't hype anything or play to the tourist mentality--something that could not always be said for his mentor, and the movie's producer, Robert Altman.