Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review: Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Live Action

21 minutes
In this French-language drama/thriller, an elderly pianist is captured, drugged and forced to relive his experiences from World War II, when he met his beloved wife, and the years after. Is it all an illusion? A cruel medical experiment? Director Yan England’s lyrical meditation on aging and memory is somewhat predictable, but heartrending in its brutal truths. GĂ©rard Poirier’s performance as Henry is terrific.
Score: 3 stars

16 minutes
This terrific little drama features a cast made up entirely of Somali refugees, in a portrait of their homeland that is both daunting and joyful. Asad (Harun Mohammed), a young boy who dreams of being a fisherman, is disgusted by his friends working for the pirates who harass commercial and private vessels. He prefers the company of Erasto (Ibrahim Moallim Hussein), a Hemingway-esque old man of the sea who offers advice on catching fish and more. Powerful, emotional and deeply authentic.
Score: 3.5 stars

Death Of A Shadow
20 minutes
Eerily beautiful, elegant and haunting, "Death Of A Shadow" is a Dutch-language fantasy that crosses borders of time, space and human feeling. Nathan Rijckx (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a young bespectacled man who wanders a European village with a strange device in his hands that resembles a camera. By peering through it, he can see people at their moment of death and capture their shadow. He labors at the behest of a shadowy figure who collects these disturbing replicas as art. It's a deal with the devil -- 10,000 days and 10,000 images, in exchange for his own life back. But then he meets a young nurse (Laura Verlinden) who makes him question his quest. Writer/director Tom Van Avermaet has given us a small, grim masterstroke.
Score: 3.5 stars

19 minutes
Quirky and affecting, “Curfew” is about a day in the life of Richie, a young drug addict – which was also supposed to be the last day of his life. He had just opened his wrist with a razor blade when he gets a call from his estranged sister (Kim Allen), begging him to watch her daughter Sophia (a precocious Fatima Ptacek) for the day. He agrees, leading to wonderfully strange excursion as the morose uncle trades jabs and then more genuine exchanges with his spunky niece. Written, directed and starring Shawn Christensen, a born storyteller.
Score: 3.5 stars

Buzkashi Boys
30 minutes
Ahmad (Jawanmard Paiz) and Rafi (Fawad Mohammadi) are two Afghani boys who are best friends despite being polar opposites. Rafi is the loyal son of a traditional blacksmith, toiling away making ax handles from dawn to dusk. Ahmad is a bastard Kabul street urchin, surviving on scams, an outsized personality and petty theft to get by. They’re united in their love for buzkashi, an ancient sport similar to polo, but played with a dead goat instead of a ball. Both dream of finding their own destinies. But then a tragedy destabilizes their young lives. A fine piece of observational drama.
Score: 3 stars

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