Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts

This past weekend we had the awesome opportunity to watch (at the amazing Alamo Drafthouse) the Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts. Now, this category has people scratching their heads because if you're not a frequent of the festival circuit, when in the world would you ever seen/heard of these shorts? So, when you go to your Oscar party and fill out your ballot, you're picking the one that sounds the best or (hopefully) blindly choosing a winner. Well, thankfully more and more independent theatres are showing these shorts, so obsessed movie-goers have a chance to see this unique category.

Tanel Toom
A National Film and Television School Production
A young boy preparing for his first confession worries that he has no sins to report, so he enlists a friend's help in committing one.

Jonesy: As the most produced-looking movie of the bunch, THE CONFESSION explores the causes of our actions from the most innocent among us. The short looks astounding. The main boy, played by Lewis Howlett, reminded me of a young Haley Joel-Osment. Howlett has such power in his subtle performance and amazingly was able to create such a dynamic character in a short amount of time. This short will probably take home the gold statue.

Javi: I can't begin to tell you how moving this movie was. This short is the most stylistic in terms of production value. It conveys a great (almost) horror-movie-esque atmosphere that mimics the young boys' dilemmas and feelings. It features themes that resonate with anyone that has ever had to keep a secret or messed up as a kid. The sound design for this short is amazing, and the ambient noise is almost another character altogether in the way that it interacts with the boys in their struggles.

WISH 143
Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite
A Swing and Shift Films/Union Pictures Production
When a terminally ill young boy is granted a wish by a charitable foundation, he makes a surprising request.

Jonesy: My favorite of the shorts we saw. WISH 143 takes a look at a 16 year-old boy dying of cancer, and his final wish for his get laid. No Disney World trip or meeting a Futbol star. No, just sex. This movie is a roller coaster of emotions, yet it has so much heart. The boy only has a few months to live, and the air is thick with the impending end. The story brings to light the power that human connection has on everyone's life.

Javi: Oh man this was such a 180 from the previous short. The kid that was dying was hilarious; his character couldn't help but show bravery by laughing at death and constantly joke to the Make-A-Wish guy or to the priest/mentor. The rather humorous nature of the short doesn't prepare you for some of the more emotional sections where the weight of the situation really hits home. I felt the way that the boy finally deals with rejections, trying to get laid, and even his own feelings provided the most realistic and satisfying ending.

Ivan Goldschmidt

A CUT! Production
In 1994, as the Rwandan genocide spills over into neighboring Burundi, a bus is attacked by a group of rebels.

Jonesy: When I first realized the subject matter of NA WEWE, I was expecting a tragic tale. However, I was surprised at how universal the themes were and how smart the movie was. The dialogue between the rebels and the innocent was smart and witty. There were so many play on words that I only wish I was that sharp. This was the only short, however, that I felt didn't have a definite ending, and there were more ideas and character choice's I wanted it to explore.

Javi: This was a very uneven short. Like Jonesy said, it was a very odd at how it dealt with the character story arcs. It was very clever in that you needed to pay attention in order to understand what was going on.  But even with the clever dialogue, the story itself is very odd and it takes a while to get going, which says something when the movie was about 15 minutes.  Definitely, it's my least favorite of the shorts.

Michael Creagh
A Purdy Pictures Production
Eight-year-old Ardal has a crush on his teacher and is devastated to learn she has a fiancé.

Jonesy: We've all had that one teacher we've had a crush on, and the lonely, young Ardal takes his crush on his teacher to another level. When he finds out his teacher is engaged, he decides to take matters into his own hands. THE CRUSH is a cute yet somewhat tense short. It plays with the idea of the extremes someone would go to be with someone, but from the point of view of a child. The short ends up being somewhat frightening and twisted with an unsettling ending.

Javi: Here's where I wish that THE CONFESSION had not been screened first because it really changed the tone of this short for me, which I sort of resented.  It's actually a lot more lighthearted than it seems at first by the time the climax comes.  But the child, Ardal, is the cutest little kid ever, his mentality is both childish and yet more clever than that of most adults around him and it makes the short that much better. This was my favorite short of the bunch.  

Luke Matheny
A Luke Matheny Production
A love triangle between two musicians and a young woman takes a surprising turn when one of them finds a collection of magical darts.

Jonesy: This was my shouldn't-be-but-is-favorite of the five.  It was fun and whimsical, and I thoroughly enjoyed the portrayals of love.  The most stylized of the nominations, GOD OF LOVE has a smokey, jazzy vibe as a young 20-something is given the power of cupid.  The cinematography is reminiscent of (500) Days of Summer but with a jazz lounge feel.  The movie is a quirky and fun and lets you dive into a uniquely painted world. 

Javi: This is what was weird because I did like this movie, but I couldn't help but thinking a "Wes-Anderson-Fan-Film" when I saw this.  The black and white world coupled with the stylish musicians that have MacBooks, mopeds, and bow ties were very appealing, but it almost felt boring in that regard.  The story itself is really clever in the way that the protagonist is seduced by his magic darts and ultimately grows because of them.  This short was definitely the most fun of the bunch.

The Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts are now playing at The Inwood in Dallas for a limited engagement.

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