2005 Academy Award Nominated Short Films (The)
R1 - America - Magnolia Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak and David Cormack (29th August 2006).
The Film

THE LIVE ACTION SHORT FILMS:

Our Time Is Up (2004)

This is one of the best films on the DVD. It's about a psychiatrist, Dr Stern (Kevin Pollak) who is fairly blasé about the whole 'curing' people thing until … he finds out he has 6 weeks to live. So, he starts getting brutally honest with people. He tells the blatantly gay guy (Rick Hoffman) who doesn't realise it that "homosexuality is ringing, and it's for you". Then he lets the bulimic girl (Katheryn Winnick) know that "if you make yourself any skinnier I'll vomit" and so forth.
It's all rather predictable as his brutally honest methods of teaching people their faults seems to help and we see each of his retardo patients begin to show signs of improvement.
The end of the film shows Dr. Stern curing himself of his pig-headedness and arrogance. This gives us warm fuzzies. Until we remember that he's going to die.
Despite it's triteness it is a very funny film, Hurley (Jorge Garcia) from "Lost" (2004-current) makes an appearance in one or two of the scenes which is nice and the annoying American 'hunter' (Rick Hoffman) from "Hostel" (2005) is in it as well. The emergence of the straight-but-gay-guy from in the closet boy-scout leader to frolicking mincing queen is particularly funny. Well when he flicks his scarf over his shoulder with gay abandon I smiled.
It's really hard to connect with a character when the film is 15 minutes long so it's difficult to know how good the acting really was; particularly when the character you're playing is a dullard.
I guess the acting was good because the roles and actors were all believable.

The Last Farm (2004)

"The Last Farm" you say? Perhaps if you substituted the letters 'IL' in for 'AR' you might have some good news. But nooooooooo this wasn't the last film. Although given how depressing it is I might just cut myself till I die and it turns out to be the last film I watch.
But I wouldn't want to go out on such a boring hunk of bulls**t as this.
The story meanders its way along, some old guy, who digs a hole, builds a box and talks to his daughter on the phone. Apparently she's going to put him in an old folks home, because he's old. But he doesn't realize, so he goes about doing tasks old people shouldn't, like driving, and talking to younger people.
Then we see him getting into bed next to his wife (Kristjana Vagnsdottir) who looks sick. Apparently she's "fine as a fiddle" (which isn't even the right expression). This made me angry. She's not fine at all. She's dead. I just ruined half the ending for you. You should thank me, because now you probably won't have to watch the rest of it. Also, whoever wrote the subtitles never learnt how to use apostrophes. This annoyed me. And the old man was such a whinger. This annoyed me more. The whole film just annoyed me actually.

Cashback (2004)

Oooh I liked this one. In fact this is my favorite on the entire DVD. It's about an 18 year old boy (Sean Biggerstaff) who works the nightshift in a supermarket and how he and the rest of his graveyard-shift colleagues help pass the time.
The boy's method is to visualize all the female customers in the shop naked and then he freezes time so that he can draw them (for he is an art-school student, not because he's a perve). The nudity itself is done quite tastefully but it's the soundtrack that goes with the 'time-freeze' scene that I most enjoyed.
The acting is great, (and yes I know I mentioned in previously it's difficult to judge when the film is a short film, well you'll have to trust me that it is evident here), we can really feel for the staff members as the slow, long, boooooring hours of the shift tick by, and the two delicatessen workers are great comic relief. The overarching feel for this film is absurdist fantasy and it's the one film that has that overarching theme. The rest feel like excerpts from a wider image, this one was a film in its own right. And rightfully so it has been given the go-ahead to be turned into a feature length film, I just hope they include as much as nudity as this one did.

The Runaway (2004)

This film is about an architect who has to get to a job interview, when on that morning a six-year-old boy shows up on his doorstep claiming to be his son. He helps him to school but as a result misses out on the job. He spends his time trying to help find the boy's absent mother.
All I can say about this film is - don't bother. See "The Sixth Sense" (1999) instead. It's better. And has Bruce Willis in it. This doesn't.

Six Shooter (2005)

This film, whilst not as messed up, is nearly as weird as the animated film "The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello" (see animation section below). Actually, they're probably about par with one another.
Donnelly (Brendan Gleeson) is in hospital and is told his wife had died. So he goes to see her body and gives her the photo of the rabbit she apparently requested. Why she requested we don't really know. Nor do we find out.
Then he goes to get the train home, he sits next to this young guy who just will not shut up. On and on he goes. Whilst Mr. Wife-is-Dead puts up with it. Then another couple (David Wilmot and Aisling O'Sullivan) board their carriage and they are obviously distressed.
The young talkative fellow goes and talks to the female member of the couple, finds out that her baby died of cot death and winds her up to the point where she throws herself from the train.
Then we see a flashback story about a cow exploding everywhere.
Then there's a shootout with the police.
Then Donnelly shoots a rabbit in the head.
It's all just a bit messed up.
This film won the Oscar for best live action short. It's actually quite good, completely spastic though. Brendan Gleeson who plays the widower gives the best performance out of anyone on this entire DVD. Except maybe the Badger (see animated films below).

THE ANIMATED SHORT FILMS:

Badgered (2005)

You know when you see children's drawings that are particularly bad, like people with no bodies and their arms and legs come straight out of their heads, Well this cartoon was like that.
It was so annoying. The badger looked like a big sack of lardo with a point for a head and four half-assed last-minute add on paws. The crows looked like some spastic 4-year old had been let loose with dad's black markers and a piece of paper whilst the hill looked like a post-mastectomy lump. To say the least this film was aesthetically unattractive.
The storyline was mildly amusing about a badger (voiced by Robert Degas) that just wanted to sleep but was constantly interrupted. But this couldn't make up for the fact that visually the film was like some mutant baby.

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello (2005)

How F****d up was this movie? Let me tell you. Quite F****d up.
It's set in some far off planet (I think it is anyway, no-one bothered to tell us), where people start getting sick and dying and you can fly on 'airships' into space. They're steam-powered or something equally retarded, and space doesn't seem to be the space we know it as because people were walking around outside whilst it was floating very very high up.
The story is about a navigator called Jasper Morello (Joel Edgerton) who apparently cocked up some previous 'mission' and a dude died because of a '1 degree' error in his directions. So he goes on another mission to try and find a cure for this disease. They find one, only the cure is to eat a cooked up monster. Is the monster scary? Nooooooo! See my last review about s**t kids' drawings that make you want to puke on yourself? Well it looks like the same kid was wondering through multiple film studios this day because he's struck again. Basically they just drew a bunch of squiggly lines with legs. Nice one. I've read a review that called this short-film "visually arresting". No. No it's not. It's visually arse.
Dead monster cures illness! Yay! Live monster eats humans. Boooo! So they grab what I think are cocoons of live ones and take them on board. Only the mental scientist (Helmut Bakaitis) who was also with them feeds the thing until it grows into an adult squiggly-line beast and devours them all.
The end.

*Disclaimer* You may have noticed a fairly rushed ending to the above review, that's because I realized I was devoting far too many words to the balls-up that was this particular film and didn't want to waste any more time on it*.

The Moon And The Sun: An Imagined Conversation (2005)

This won the Oscar for best animated short and frankly it's hard to see why. Having said that, the other entrants in this category were both crapola. Still, this is pretty bad.
It's about a man whose dad died a few years ago and he imagines the conversation he would have with him now if he were still alive.
The plotline for this is quite intriguing, still images of the film maker's (John Canemaker) past show up and these are in turn animated and from there unfolds the story. It tells of Canemaker's father's arrival to the USA after moving to Italy at a very young age, and how he fell in with the mafia, how he burnt down his own hotel to pay off the mafia and so forth. Somewhat of an interesting idea right? Well the execution is balls; much like "Badgered" the animation is bad. Really bad. Off puttingly bad in fact. And I know I have been raised on a diet of Pixar and Dreamworks style realism but this doesn't make me a snob, nor do I expect that level of realism in these films but some of this s**t is child's work.
The old man is portrayed completely one-sidedly, also, we get about 1 minute's worth of 'positive memories' then the rest is all about how awful he is rah rah rah. I'm sure that this bloke wasn't that awful. He donated enough money for his hometown church in Italy to get electric Church Bells for goodness sakes.
The anger we hear in the voices is represented by monster-type figures rearing up on paper and it's this sort of "we will shovel how you should be feeling down your throat" which detracts from the general message of the film which is one of internal melancholy as a son struggles to understand his father.
The intention here I think was good but sadly it didn't fulfill its potential.

Video

Each film is presented in their own original aspect ratios which are:
Our Time Is Up: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, this transfer was solid, the colors well rendered and the image generally sharp.
The Last Farm: 1.88:1 anamorphic widescreen, this image was pillar boxed to show off more information on TVs and was grainy and dark, but this was the filmmaker’s intention.
Cashback: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, this was a very nice image indeed, sharp and displayed detail well, colors were vibrant and solid, backs deep and was consistent throughout.
The Runaway: 2.00:1 anamorphic widescreen, also pillar boxed to show more information on TVs, this transfer was clean but ultimately flat and uninteresting.
Six Shooter: 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen, the print was flawless; the colors lush and skin tones were natural. Overall one of the best transfers on this disc.
Badgered: 1.33:1 fullscreen transfer was clean without any major problems, the majority of the backgrounds were white and the colors extremely limited but the transfer presented the film as the filmmakers intended.
The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello: 1.66:1 this anamorphic transfer was quite dark and hard to see at times, although that is a reflection of the animation style. Otherwise it was a clean print.
The Moon And The Sun: An Imagined Conversation: 1.33:1 fullscreen, much the same as Badgered.

Audio

All films feature a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track in their native languages, films in a foreign language included subtitles. I found that the audio quality was consistent among these films and presented the films with clean and distortion free dialogue, some surround effects were utilized but ultimately was limited considering the amount of depth one can achieve with 2.0 surround as opposed to 5.1 surround.
Aside from burned in subtitles on the foreign shorts no optional subtitles are included on this disc.

Extras

The two shorts films included on this disc as extras are "The Fan and the Flower" (2005) this is an animated short that runs roughly 7 minutes and is about an ill-fated and unconsummated romance between a fan and a flower that magically creates a fairy-tale ending (as listed on IMDB), despite the weirdness of the subject it's a rather enjoyable film with some terrific narration from actor extraordinaire Paul Giamatti). The second short film featured as an extra is "Imago" (2005) another animated film, this time from France and follows Antoine, an 8-year-old boy who has lost his father in a plane crash. Antoine is unable to accept his father's death and starts living again and accept his loss through a metaphorical dream - and thus, he's able to grieve. The film runs for 12 minutes and is as pretentious as it sounds.

Rounding out the extras are some start-up trailers that can be skipped, these include:
- The Lost City which runs for 2 minutes 14 seconds.
- Cavite which runs for 1 minute 34 seconds.

Overall I was a little disappointed with these extras, while the additional shorts are a welcomed addition I felt that director commentaries on these films would have been an excellent feature on these films.

Overall

Individual Film Ratings:

Films:
Our Time Is Up: B
The Last Farm: D-
Cashback: A+
The Runaway: F
Six Shooter: C+/B-
Badgered: D-
The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello: F
The Moon And The Sun: An Imagined Conversation: D-

The Film: D+ Video: B+ Audio: B+ Extras: C+ Overall: C

 


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