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MOVIE REVIEW: Oscar Nominated Short Films

Five shorts up for an Academy Award

God of Love: Rates an A.
Courtesy Photo

Every year the Ken Cinema on Adams Avenue has a week where they run all the Oscar-nominated short films. That week has arrived, and you have until Friday to catch them.

You really can’t beat paying one ticket price and getting to see five films (however, you have to buy a separate ticket to watch the animated shorts).The shorts are fun. You may love only a few of them, but at the very least, they are well made and will have a few scenes that you won’t forget.

The one thing seeing these don’t do, is give you an edge in the Oscar pools. It’s the same thing with the foreign films. The ones you like best aren’t usually the ones that win the Oscar. I’ll list these in the order of ones I liked best, not the order they ran.

God of Love.It was done by New Yorker writer/director Luke Matheny. He's received praise for his short Earano, a Cyrano de Bergerac story where he has huge ears instead of the huge nose. In this, he plays a jazz singer who is a “champion at darts and melts your hearts” – often at the same time. Matheny prays to God each day, hoping that his female drummer will like him and not his smooth guitarist. The way God answers this prayer is hysterical, and surprisingly touching. I can’t say more without ruining what should be a fun surprise for you to experience for yourself. It easily gets an A.

The Crush.A cute Irish boy has a crush on his teacher. I’m guessing one or two people out there won’t care for that as subject matter, especially with another few cases of teachers sleeping with students recently. This boy is so young you don’t mind his bold approach to letting the teacher know of his love for her. When he and his family run into the teacher that weekend, showing off her engagement ring, it’s heartbreaking to the boy. The fiancé is a dope, but funny and good looking enough that we can see this pretty teacher dating him. When the boy challenges this guy to a dual in the handball courts … you won’t believe the bizarre direction this film takes. It gets an A-.

Wish 143. This is a British film about a teenager whose dying wish is to lose his virginity. When an organization wants to provide him with a wish, they suggest a meeting with a famous person. He’d rather they introduce him to a working girl. I immediately thought of a bit by the late comedian Robert Schimmel. The relationship this boy has with a priest is very touching. He clearly isn’t religious and doesn’t care for all the talk about Jesus, but they have a great friendship and bond. It has touches of humor and the film really warms your heart. I’m giving it a B.

The Confession.This was well acted, but it takes a long time (which is weird, considering it’s a short) to get to action. This film is just under 30 minutes.It’s a similar theme as a short called Spider, which ran with The Square last year. Spider was only about 7 minutes long, and was a lot funnier and tragic. This deals with a couple of British schoolboys who are told during a religious class that they’ll have their first confession coming up. One boy looks like he’s trouble, and isn’t at a loss of what he could possibly say. The other boy, who is a tad on the quiet side, seems to stress over the fact that he doesn’t have anything good to present at his confession. This means the bad boy talks him into stealing a scarecrow, and that’s when the fun ensues. It held my interest all the way through, but I thought it could’ve been better. It gets a C.

Na WeWe.This was my least favorite of the bunch. That could be because it reminded me of White Material, a very well-reviewed but disappointing movie I saw a few months ago. It’s a Belgian picture, and it takes place in 1994 in central Africa during a civil war. When a car breaks down, and a small bus is going to take the folks into the next down, things go wrong when they’re stopped by a group of guys with guns. Never good when tribes are fighting and you’re caught in the middle. It helps if you have U2 on your iPod, though. This film gets a D, and I’m guessing it has the strongest chance of winning the Oscar. I’ll be rooting for God of Love, and not just because it’s the American entry in this category. It’s done brilliantly.