As I promised in my last post, here are my thoughts on the five films nominated for the Best Live-Action Short Subject Oscar. They’re playing, as a single feature, next week at various theaters around the Bay Area.
These are, overall, a bit better than this year’s animated shorts. They’re also longer on average. No one had to add extra, non-nominated films to fill out the show.
They’re also, oddly enough, largely British. Two of the films are from England, and another from Ireland, with one each from Belgium and the good ole US of A.
The Confession: In the longest and weakest short, a young Catholic boy preparing for his first confession takes part in a practical joke, with disastrous results. It’s hard to manage complex moral and religious issues of family and faith in less than half an hour, and despite a few good moments, the filmmakers fail to do so.
The Crush: Seeing it right after "The Confession," I worried that this story of an eight-year-old boy in love with his teacher would make similar mistakes. Much to my relief, It doesn’t. I can’t call this a wonderful little film, but it’s certainly enjoyable.
God of Love: A love-sick singer and darts champion receives the answer to his prayers in a package of magic darts. Funny, silly, yet very sweet. The main characters are all in a jazz band, so there’s some good music, as well.
Na Wewe: This Belgian film set in the war-torn African country of Burundi will terrify you with its grim look at racially-motivated, paramilitary murder. Yet oddly, it will also make you laugh. A Hutu militia stops a minivan and tries to separate out the Tutsis for slaughter. But identifying strangers by ethnicity isn’t so easy, and soon becomes an absurd comedy with potentially horrific consequences. By far the best film in the group.
Wish 143: A 15-year-old boy dying of cancer, granted one wish by a charity, asks to lose his virginity. While much of "Wish 143" is played for laughs, it’s no farce. The filmmakers take seriously both the young man’s frightful situation and the moral dilemma of the priest charged with making wishes come true.