Saturday, February 11, 2012
The Oscar-Nominated Live Action Shorts
A weak field hits this year in the Live Action Short category, screening contemporaneously with the superior Animated Short package at the Nuart.
First is the strained comic allegory "Pentecost," in which a priest psychs his altar boys up for a big mass like a Division I football coach. The short has one joke, badly overplayed, and ends with an action that rings false and wouldn't make sense even if it rang true.
"Raju" is the year's inevitable overheated issue movie, about a German couple who goes to India to adopt an orphan only to find out the "orphanage" may traffic in stolen children; the boy may have parents still looking for him. As occurs too often in this category, the drama relies on impossible coincidences - a hallmark of all the worst short stories.
The overblown Irish short "The Shore" takes 31 minutes to say nothing about "the troubles" or the process of reconciliation - basically, two childhood friends haven't seen each other for years and when one initiates a reunion, the other is happy to see him. Yawn.
"Time Freak" is about a nerd who invents a time machine only to waste it reliving the minor events of yesterday hundreds of times until he gets them right. It has a laugh or two, but reminded me of a much better time-travel concept (the one-second time machine) in Michel Gondry's delightful "The Science of Sleep."
Far and away the class of the Live Action Short category is Norway's "Tuba Atlantic," about a dying man who needs the wind to turn westerly to try to reach his brother, now living in New Jersey, via the transatlantic tuba they built as children. "Tuba Atlantic" has a clever premise, is professionally made and well acted, and offers a clear vision, fully realized. It's your winner.