Short Film

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.

Mondays at Racine (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

Mondays at Racine (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
3/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Documentary Short (Cynthia Wade, Robin Honan).
Watched March 12, 2014.

Mondays at Racine is a well done documentary short that is so much more than just a story about women with cancer.  The two sisters who own a hair salon open their doors to women diagnosed with cancer once a month and give out much more than a free hair cut.

 

The story follows a couple women with breast cancer, while featuring a few others.  The owners’ roles in the film are very small.  They have painful, personal experience with cancer, but they also realize that in our society, and especially in Jersey, women have a very distinct idea of what beauty is.  They want women to feel beautiful, especially when going through cancer because they have enough to worry about already.  This is their way of giving back, and they make a good point that they get so much out of the experience that is is almost selfish.  It makes them forget or dismiss their own troubles while helping these women.

 

One of the main cancer fighters has been fighting for years, defying all odds and living over a decade beyond what the doctors told her she would live.  She mentors younger women with recent diagnoses in emotional aspects, but also when it comes to surgery and treatments.

 

It was a great forty minutes watching this film, but I cried a lot.  The story telling was okay, the editing was okay, but the people were phenomenal.  Our world emphasizes beauty, and these women are truly beautiful.

Paperman (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

Paperman (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
5/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award, which it won.
Won Best Animated Short Film (John Kahrs).
Watched March 4, 2014.

  

Paperman is one of the cutest shorts ever and the clear winner from the 2013 nominations.  It is a black and white short with little to no dialogue and a love story involving paper airplanes that takes up a whopping seven minutes of time.

 

The story opens in old school New York City on a man and a woman at a train station.  The man in his suit and his stack of papers and the woman with red lipstick engage in a tangle with papers blown by wind, and then suddenly the woman boards a train and disappears.  A turn of fate finds them just across the street from one another at their end destinations and, convinced that she is The One, the man employs his killer paper airplane skills to try to catch her attention.

 

The story is cute, quirky, and magical.  It does not waste its seven minutes and nor does it over pack them.  There is just enough repetitive action to create a tension the audience can feel, and then as if in response to the viewers, the man changes course into something unexpected and humorous.

 

Seven minutes of this cute film is certainly not a waste of time.  I definitely recommend it, and it is very easily found online.  Enjoy!

Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
4/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Animated Short (David Silverman).
Watched February 13, 2014.

  

Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” is a very cute animated short that is right up my alley.  I have been a fan of The Simpsons since I was a kid (much to the chagrin of my mother) but have not watched it in a few years.  Watching this short was very nostalgic and wonderful.

 

The short is without dialogue.  Marge brings Maggie to a very Simpsons-like daycare where she goes through airport style security and has a brain scan that labels her as average.  She joins the “nothing special” kids in a dank corner, with the kid who eats paste, and the baby who loves squishing butterflies with a wooden mallet.  Maggie discovers a caterpillar friend and soon realizes that it will shortly turn into a butterfly.  She must save her little friend from the evil baby!

 

The animation is a step up from your average Simpsons.  It was released in theaters in 3D, but even in 2D it captures shadows and colors that are not normally a part of the Simpsons world.  The story is cute and well executed.  It is a very short short, but it takes no time at all to feel a connection with Maggie and a dislike of the evil mallet carrying baby.

 

This short is so cute and, well, short that I find no hesitation in recommending you see it.  It is readily available online and if you like The Simpsons, I see no reason why this animation should evade your attention.

Head Over Heels (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

Head over Heels (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
1/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Animated Short (Timothy Reckart, Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly).
Watched January 28, 2014.

Head Over Heels  is a claymationstop motion animated short that has a really cute concept.  It is about an older couple who has obviously been together for a long time–so long that they have forgotten what it means to be in love.  The symbolism for this is a little unique and extremely obvious–Walter lives on the floor and Madge lives on the ceiling.  They may share the same fridge, but that is about it.  One day, their house literally falls out of the sky and they are forced to reassess the way they have been viewing their relationship.

 

While the concept is cute (and solid), the execution is not.  It seems more like an exercise in animation than a success at story telling.  What could have been told in less than five minutes instead is told in eleven and we spend a long time watching the couple fight over a picture, vacuum the floor, fiddle with antennas, and take a walk outside.  It is hard to make their faces communicate their emotions, and after watching ParaNorman (another nominated film that I will be reviewing next week), the animation seems extremely lacking.

 

I really enjoyed the concept of this film, and it was certainly cute, but it is sad when an eleven minute short is too boring.  Unless you are studying stop motion animation and/or claymation, I would not recommend this film to you.