Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review: Oscar nominated short films

All 10 Oscar nominees in the two short film categories (Live Action and Animated) are playing on a single bill. Here are mini-reviews:


"Kavi" -- This drama about an Indian boy living in virtual slavery features a powerful performance by child actor Sagar Salunke. Kavi lives with his parents making mud bricks all day, but dreams of going to school. He tends a small potted plant that he imagines is a farm. A searing look at a real-world problem affecting millions.
Grade: 3 stars

"The Door" -- The Chernobyl disaster is made personal in this look at a family visited by tragedy when the nuclear meltdown turns everyone in town into "ticking time bombs," in the words of the narrator. A father, he sneaks back into his old apartment to steal a door, whose ultimate purpose is heart-breaking.
Grade: 2.5 stars

"Miracle Fish" -- Bewildering tale of a poor Australian boy's increasingly bizarre 8th birthday. He's teased at school for receiving no presents other than a toy fish that's supposed to tell your fortune. He falls asleep in the infirmary, and wakes up to find the school deserted. Ends with a loopy encounter and then sudden, repellent violence.
Grade: 2 stars

"The New Tenants" -- The blackest of black comedies opens with a monologue about how people are dying horribly every day in hospitals, and then it gets funnier. Two gay men sit in their new apartment as they receive an ever-stranger string of visitors, including Vincent D'Onofrio and Kevin Corrigan. Bleak, bitter, weird and wonderful.
Grade: 3.5 stars

"Instead of Abracadabra" -- Delightfully quirky Swedish comedy about a 25-year-old loser who lives with his parents but imagines himself to be a master magician. The fact that he put his mother in the hospital with his sword trick doesn't diminish his desire to perform, especially for the cute nurse who moved in next door. I loved these characters.
Grade: 3.5 stars


"A Matter of Loaf and Death" -- Nick Park, the mastermind behind the animated man/dog team of Wallace & Gromit, has already won this award three times (plus an animated feature Oscar). This time the boys are bakers unraveling the mystery of a murderer targeting bread-makers. Plus there's a subplot of romance for Wallace, all accompanied by the usual stop-motion hijinks.
Grade: 3.5 stars

"Logorama" -- Ingenious French-made short set in a hard-boiled alternate universe version of Los Angeles where everything consists of advertising logos -- people, cars, buildings, everything. Some Michelin Man cops chase violent fugitive Ronald McDonald, who's not passing out any Happy Meals these days. It's a skewed view of America with plenty of satirical bite.
Grade: 3.5 stars

"French Roast" -- Short and sweet little French story set in a cafe involving a rich man, a paper-chasing beggar, a nun, a policeman, the waiter and an ever-burgeoning tab. Great animation style reminiscent of "The Incredibles."
Grade: 3 stars

"The Lady and the Reaper" -- A delightfully wicked Spanish short about an old woman who wants to die. She's thrilled when the Grim Reaper comes to claim her, since she'll be able to join her deceased husband. But an egotistical doctor has other ideas.
Grade: 3.5 stars

"Granny Ogrimm's Sleeping Beauty" -- The story of "Sleeping Beauty" gets an extreme makeover in the telling of a resentful elderly lady to her grandchild. In this Irish recasting, the heroine is the decrepit old fairy who wasn't invited to Sleeping Beauty's christening part, resulting in some nasty curses. So funny you'll cackle with glee.
Grade: 3 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment