One of the coolest things about going to the Jacksonville Film Festival back in May was the chance to see short films in a theater. Prior to that, I think the only shorts I had seen that way were those preceding Pixar films. Anyway, last week the San Marco hosted an Oscar Nominated Shorts Program that showcased eight live action and animated shorts from around the world. Mrs. Mosley and I caught the last showing on Thursday night.
Gopher Broke (USA) is a CGI short in very much the Pixar vein with some old fashion Warner Brothers hijinx mixed in. A Gopher on a country road digs a hole in order for some produce trucks to spill some of their contents for his supper. Unfortunately for him, he has competition for the tasty loot. The folks behind this have a lot of fun with the concept and it was a great short to begin the night. Eight out of Ten
Two Cars, One Night (New Zealand) is an arty black and white film that's hard to get into, but pays off in the end. Two boys in one car and a girl in another wait while their respective parents visit a bar nearby. One of the boys and the girl get to talking with the boy being rude at first. Eventually, they warm up to eachother and exchange some awkward but sweet words. The dialogue itself, thick with Kiwi accents, is hard to discern some of the time. In fact, Mrs. Mosley and I are pretty convinced the first three or so lines weren't English at all. It eventually grows on you, though, and was worth seeing. Seven out of Ten
Birthday Boy (Australia) turned out to be my favorite of all eight shorts. A young boy in war torn Korea plays amidst the wreckage of planes and bombed buildings while his parents are away. Near the end, he receives an unfortunate present for his birthday. There isn't much that is spoken here as the boy is alone for most of the film, but the visuals speak for themselves as we put together the back story and figure out what's going on. Incredibly well done and touching. Ten out of Ten
Little Terrorist (India) has a Pakistani boy venture into a minefield to retrieve a cricket ball, only to be fired upon by the guard towers and find himself on the side of India. He is given shelter by a local school teacher and his niece while they figure out what to do with him. Considering most of the West's ignorance on the cultural differences in this part of the world, this story had a lot of significance. Particularly with these two countries, between which there is a huge amount of tension yet receives very little press here in the States. Good stuff. Eight out of Ten
Ryan (Canada) (Review re-printed from JFF post) was actually the Oscar winner for Best Animated Short earlier this year. The technical achievement is amazing as the narrator leads us through a mirror and we see characters in terms of their mental states. In the case of the narrator and an older animator he goes to interview, their creative output has been troubled and this is represented, among other things, by thickets of colorful wire that explode from their heads. It's a very surreal piece where the young animator takes audio recordings of his interviews and then reinterprets the interviews with his own visual style. Nine out of Ten
7:35 in the Morning (Spain) is one of those films where you immediately want to watch it again to pick up what you might have missed the first time round. The story starts off simple as a woman enters a cafe for some a pastry and coffee, then she starts to notice everyone there acting stiff and rather odd. As the film progresses, and gets progressively weirder, she and we figure out what's going on. All this mystery and nice choreography, too. Eight out of Ten
Rex Steele: Nazi Smasher (USA) is the animated tale of all American hero Rex Steele who, along with his trusty sidekick Penny, ventures across the globe to foil the Nazis in all their nefarious plans. This short has it's tongue practically firmly in cheek as we watch this interpretation of classic Saturday morning serials. I love how these particular Nazis choose to emblazon the swastika one every conceivable item they use (including blowdarts). Funny and over the top. Eight out of Ten
Wasp (UK) is one of those uncomfortable, close to the bone personal portraits that British director Mike Leigh is fond of. In this case, we have a single mom named Zoe who lives a rather destitute existence with her four kids in Dartford. We learn real quick that she's far from a good mother, and she proceeds to justify this snap judgment by bringing her kids along to a bar where she meets an old high school friend. The kids, dirty and malnourished, sit outside for hours while she drinks beer and plays pool. It's a very moving family portrait, and the director successfully makes the mother, if not sympathetic, at least pitiable. Nine out of Ten
To Apollo Cinema, who organized this little release, more of this please. We thank you.
(This can also be viewed at Blogcritics)