Best Live Action Short Film

Helium (2014) Review | Jamie Daily

Helium (2014)
86th Academy Awards
5/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award, which it won.
Won Best Live Action Short Subject (Anders Walter, Kim Magnusson).
Watched May 5, 2014.

  

I am not surprised that Helium won this year’s Oscar.  It was cute, touching, well written, and used all twenty three minutes of running time very well.  The short film explores the power of imagination (no wonder it won, right?).

 

Alfred (Pelle Falk Krusbæk) is a young boy who is dying.  A new hire at the hospital, the janitor Enzo (Casper Crump) takes a liking to the boy and in seeing his loss of hope and pessimism towards his fate and what happens after death, he creates an imaginary world called Helium that captures more than one heart.  Despite his failing health, Alfred’s fear is eased and his mind opens up to find joy again.

 

The length of the film was perfect.  There was not a minute wasted, and yet if it had been longer it would have lost all of its power.  There is little back story (what is Alfred dying of?  Where did Enzo work before this and why does he have so much compassion for this particular boy?), but its mysteries strengthen its ending.

 

Everything came together to bring home the win for this short.  I definitely recommend it, although don’t expect much humor.

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Asad (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

Asad (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
2/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film (Bryan Buckley, Mino Jarjoura).
Watched April 2, 2014.

  

I watched Asad right around the time that I watched Captain Phillips.  Both portray the current climate of Somalia and its violence both on the water in piracy and also on land between its own people.

 

Asad is a short film that takes a different approach than the afore mentioned feature.  Asad is a young boy nearing manhood and anxious to go out on the boats and pirate with the other boys in his community.  He knows the ocean and its currents better than anyone.  Instead, the local fisherman who believes in living a different life is convinced that Asad will one day catch the best catch they have ever seen.

 

Although the film is quite short, it conveys Asad’s conflict, home life, and over all environment extremely well.  I got the measure of his character almost immediately.  In fact, it is very skillful how quickly we understand each character.  Granted, the writers did put in several easy to catch stereotypes that might define the soul of a person, such as Asad’s friend with a limp is all talk but has little courage when it comes down to it.  My favorite moment of the film was between Asad and his mother, where she struggles against the pressures of a society she has known her whole life and tries to raise her son in a war torn environment.

 

The film tries to instill a hope, but it is bleak.  Asad will grow up to be a pirate, a thug with a gun, or a fisherman.  His future is already set.

 

The filmmaking is decent, the acting is sub-par, and the story is one note.  After watching Captain Phillips, I was looking forward to a more in depth look at Somali life, but Asad left a little to be desired.  Although it shows the harder side of life, the film becomes preoccupied with a mediocre plot that stalls the pace and progression of the film.

 

All in all, I wouldn’t consider the film a waste of my time, but I would not suggest it for the a-typical audience.

Tuba Atlantic (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

Tuba Atlantic (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
5/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film (Hallvar Witzo).
Watched October 31, 2012.

 

Out of all the short films I have seen so far from this year, this one is by far my favourite.  Humor, wit, and machine guns–what more can you ask for?

 

In a short film, you have to get to the point pretty quickly–something that Oskar (Edvard Hægstad) and his doctor (Terje Ranes) seem to understand.  Oskar has precisely six days to live.  “Would you like to die at the hospital or at home?” the doctor asks.  Being a stubborn old man stuck in his Norwegian old ways, he refuses all help and returns home where he counts out his last days on the calendar.

 

The next morning, his appointed “death angel” shows up–a young girl who is trying to earn her wings by helping the dying cope with their untimely demise.  Oskar, however, is not someone she had bargained for.  He seamlessly processes through her stages of dying–denial and anger being the first two–but what she didn’t expect was his extracurricular activities.

 

He is waging a war against the seagulls.  Yes, seagulls.  With machine guns, explosives, and even his own two feet.  Although his promise of death has not dulled his hate for the birds, it has softened his heart toward his brother, to whom he hasn’t spoken in a good thirty years.

 

If you aren’t a fan of short films, you will be a fan of this one.  If you are a fan of short films, you will be a fan of this one.  It is perfection, although once I tell you that it features a giant electric tuba built to reach all the way across the Atlantic you might not trust my judgment any more.  The acting is spot on, the timing of the humor is perfect, and despite the possibility of animal activists being incredibly put off by Oskar’s pastime hobbies, I hope that they can see the humor in the completely absurd old man.

 

The ending has just enough cheese with the continued pattern of perfect timing that the 25-minute short is rounded out nicely, with all loose ends tied and fewer seagulls soaring the skies.  If you have never listened to any of my suggestions before, you should definitely start now by watching Tuba Atlantic.

 

Sources: Time EntertainmentIMDB411maniaOpinionlessPaste MagazineSmells Like Screen SpiritThe Independent Critic

Time Freak (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

 

Time Freak (2011)
84th Academy Awards
3/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film (Andrew Bowler, Gigi Causey)
Watched October 21, 2012.

 

A fairly well done short, Time Freak is a breath of fresh air in the form of comedy amongst its fellow nominees.  Unlike The Shore, it has good timing and a consistent story that answers an age old question about time travel.

 

A college scientist has done it!  Stillman (Michael Nathanson) has successfully invented a time machine!  When his roommate and best friend Evan (John Conor Brooke) searches him out after not hearing from him in three days, Stillman tells his whole tale.  First he went to the dry cleaners to get his shirt, but the man behind the counter was a jerk and Stillman felt bad about how he treated him, so he went back in time to try and fix it (don’t worry, in Stillman’s story there are no paradoxes).  This begins his mourned back and forth trying repeatedly to fix the problems and minute details of yesterday.  Evan is understandably concerned and decides to take it into his own hands to fix the situation.

 

The acting is average, the cinematography is basic, and really there is little unique about its creation apart from the semi-clever story line.  This is certainly something that could be made into a feature if more plot twists were incorporated.  However, there was pretty good character development for only a 10 minute film.

 

All in all, if you have some time, this would be a good comedic short to search out.  But then again, if you have a time machine, you have all the time in the world.

 

Sources: IMDB411maniaOpinionlessPaste MagazineSmells Like Screen SpiritThe Independent CriticEvery Oscar EverMovie Wiseguys

The Shore (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

The Shore (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
1/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award, which it won.
Won Best Live Action Short (Terry George, Oorlargh George).
Watched October 19, 2012.

 

Unlike many of the critics, and the Academy itself, I was not such a fan of The Shore, particularly after seeing Raju last week.  The imagery of the film is absolutely breathtaking, but the script and acting were fairly lacking in comparison.

 

Joe (Ciarán Hinds) has been living in the States for the last twenty-five years and has not been back to Ireland since “the trouble.”  He finally brings his grown daughter back with him after his wife passes away.  Everyone is incredibly pleased to see him, but it is soon revealed that his daughter Patricia (Kerry Condon) doesn’t know much about her father’s past, like the fact that he was in a band, or that he hasn’t spoken to his best friend since he moved away.

 

The story with Joe and his daughter is so slow moving and dialogue driven that it throws off the pace of the entire short.  Condon’s acting doesn’t help the situation.  Joe tells the whole story of how he lost his best friend, Paddy, and how his secret ex-fiancé is now married to his ex-best friend.  Patricia then convinces him that he should visit Paddy and set things right.

 

My favourite aspect of the film (I prove that I am a huge romantic, yet again) was the relationship between Paddy (Conleth Hill) and his wife Mary (Maggie Cronin).  There is no doubt that they have an amazing amount of passion in their marriage.  Their chemistry is out of this world, which in turn casts a blinding light on the lack of chemistry between Hinds and Condon.

 

The Shore is a half-hearted comedy and a half-hearted drama–it never successfully scores in either direction.  The timing is off, most of the characters have little depth, and the lines are so transparent, it’s a wonder the actors could pull anything remotely Oscar worthy out of Terry George’s winning piece.

 

If your opinions tend to be more in line with the Academy when it comes to shorts, or if you would like to catch a glimpse of Ireland’s beauty (which is expertly captured, might I add), then by all means you should search out this film.  Otherwise, I would not recommend it.

 

Sources: Album ArtIMDBRotten Tomatoes411maniaOpinionlessPaste MagazineReeling ReviewsSmells Like Screen SpiritThe Independent Critic