A divorced father picks up his eight-year-old daughter Lea. It seems pretty much like every second weekend, but after a while Lea can't help feeling that something isn't right. So begins a fateful journey.
In this short animated film, a Grade 7 boy's mind starts to wander while dissecting a frog in Biology class. What would you do if you suddenly found yourself charged with God-like powers? ... See full summary »
France's Oscar-nominated short film Ave Maria is a screwball comedy of sorts, with its main idea revolving around religious tolerance and a desire for conflicting theologians to come together and realize the common good of reaching a goal. Revolving around a group of Israelis that break down in Palestine, Ave Maria depicts contemporary Israel/Palestine relations by having the gang of individuals look for assistance from five nuns.
As one can predict, comedic circumstances do ensue, particularly when the Palestinians are hesitant to even let the Israelis use their telephone. However, once they realize that they can do more by helping the innocent people of Israel rather than further hurting or tormenting them, some cooperation begins to occur. The unsubtle themes of Ave Maria almost effectively undermine the entire film, despite its mildly amusing comedic setup and its strong, albeit flaccid, core theme that emphasizes togetherness rather than further separation. The entire short is quietly entertaining, but questionably Oscar worthy.
Shok nicely paces itself in that it almost forces you to let your guard down as a viewer, forgetting to expect the unexpected, before hitting you with an emotional punch that comes effectively in the latter half of the short. While Donoughue enters the narrative from a fairly easy point of entry - focusing on two young, innocent boys - comes with a story to tell and not with an agenda, which is all too easy to do with short films like this one. It's all worth it for that riveting and heartwrenching final shot that feels burned into my retina, at least temporarily.
Everything Will Be Okay works, for one, because it's predicated upon a simple relationship that most of us will recognize and, if nothing else, softly admire. A father's bond with his daughter is sentimental and tender, and taking that away from any man is bound to cause some sort of friction or added pain to his already reeling heart from a failing marriage. With that, while we may not agree with the plan he has crafted for his daughter, we nonetheless understand his motivations and why he'd want to do something like this. While Everything Will Be Okay is a strong drama, it also has beautiful elements of a thriller and works to be the most favorable of the lot of live actions shorts we've been graced with this year, thanks to its inherently simplicity but added narrative and aesthetic complexity.
Benjamin Cleary doesn't position Stutterer in a way that makes us sob or even tear up at Greenwood's situation, largely because he creates a character and not a vessel that demands manipulative sympathy. He wants us to see Greenwood as a person, with deep thoughts and ideas, rather than an empty soul manufactured so we can have someone to look down upon and feel sorry for. With that, Stutterer becomes a beautiful little romance, and actually has the weight and potential to turn into a charming, full-length feature similar to Shawn Christensen's Oscar-winning short Curfew and its eventually evolution into the terrific film Before I Disappear in 2013.
Finally, Day One is worth it for the strong performance by Alizada, who manages to command the screen pretty admirably throughout the entire film, and Hughes really knows how to craft an unforgivably tense environment. With that, Day One seems like its inching towards greatness only to hesitantly back off in favor of a safer route most people would find easier to swallow.
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