Sunday, March 3, 2013

Oscar Nominated Short Films, 2012

Director: Bryan Buckley

Reviewed: 3 March 2013
jamesintexas rating--***1/2

Asad injects magical realism and lightness into the heaviest of subjects: war-torn Somalia with gun-toting subjects.  A young boy struggles to bring a fish back to his village and change his reputation.  Unusual and surprisingly powerful and funny as well.

Buzkashi Boys
Director: Sam French

Reviewed: 3 March 2013
jamesintexas rating--****

Afghanistan looks centuries old as a young boy struggles with his destiny as the son of a blacksmith.  The boy and his best friend climb the decaying, bombed out buildings of Kabul, staring out on a starkly beautiful landscape.  The film feels cold, but the performances are strong, especially the young boys.  The sport of buzkashi was brutally painful to watch, as was the idea of a young boy coming to terms with his destiny.  Haunting and elegiac.

Director: Shawn Christensen

Reviewed: 3 March 2013
jamesintexas rating--**1/2

My least favorite of the nominees, "Curfew" stars director Christensen and chronicles a young suicidal man and his babysitting of his niece.  The emotions are not as strongly rendered, and the territory seems familiar when juxtaposed against the other four films.

Death of a Shadow
Director: Tom Van Avermaet
Reviewed: 3 March 2013
jamesintexas rating--***1/2

A strangely dark film about a photographer of death taking place in World War One.  In order to free himself, a young soldier must photograph moments of death, capturing the shadows of the dying for a bizarre collection.  A young woman shows up, and complications ensue.  I like the colors (yellow and black) and feeling of this film.

Director: Yan England

Reviewed: 3 March 2013
jamesintexas rating--***

"Henry" feels intensely sad in its focus: dementia in an older man as he retraces his love affair with his wife.  I was struck by its stylistic choices that resembled "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" with lights fading out of scenes, mirroring memory loss.  It was well-done and haunting.

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