Thursday, March 4, 2010

Film Review - 2010 Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Films

Following are very short capsule reviews of the 2010 Oscar nominated live action shorts. Though not feature length films, I am "counting" the animated and the live action films as one movie each for the purposes of the 100 Movie Challenge.

Film #32 of 2010 - 2010 Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts

19 minutes - India/USA

Kavi, a young boy in India, is forced into slavery due to his father's debts to the owner of a brick kiln, when all he really wants to do is go to school and play cricket with other boys his age.

This was a very good short film, with a lot of depth and feeling, but it was not easy to watch, particularly knowing that adults and many children are truly faced with this reality. Heart breaking but somewhat hopeful, Kavi was an impressive beginning to the live action slate. 3.5 out of 5 stars

20 minutes - Denmark/USA

A gay couple who have recently moved into their new apartment meet a couple of their neighbors and learn the history of the whereabouts of the former tenants.

Intelligent, bizarre and hilarious, this was the only live action short to feature easily recognizable stars, including Vincent D'onofrio, David Rakoff , Jamie Harrold and Kevin Corrigan, and the acting was both subtle and over the top, depending on the actor. I laughed really hard throughout most of the film, even in the face of some pretty shocking violence. I loved everything about this film. 4.5 out of 5 stars

17 minutes - Australia

A young boy who is an outcast at his school celebrates his 8th birthday in an unusual way when he wakes from a nap in the nurse's office to find he is all alone in the school.

This was a really heavy, powerful film, and though I figured out what was going on fairly early on, the tension and dread was omnipresent throughout most of the film, helped along by the muted photography. 3.5 stars out of 5

17 minutes - Ireland

Following the evacuation of their home and all of their belongings, a young family is forced to deal with the further life-affecting aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster.

I wish that I could say that I found this to be a powerful film, but it ended up being really disappointing, considering that this is still an interesting and relevant topic even decades later. The film seemed to last much longer than its 17 minutes and instead of feeling emotional and devastated I just looked forward to it being over. 2 out of 5 stars

22 minutes - Sweden

An awkward man, still living with his parents, aspires to become a professional magician and impress his pretty new neighbor with his "prowess".

This was the only short I was familiar with, having previously seen it during last year's Milwaukee Film Festival. At that screening, I was struck by how much the audience enjoyed it (when it didn't really seem like the correct demographic) and I personally thought it was hilarious. Watching it a second time, I still laughed as hard as I did the first time (I still can't get over his gesticulations and "Chimay") because it is sweet and almost slapstick in its humor. It was somewhat reminiscent of Napoleon Dynamite in terms of aesthetic, but the main difference was that Instead of Abracadabra was actually clever. 4 out of 5 stars

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