By: Oberst von Berauscht & Henry J. Fromage –
This year’s Oscar-nominated live action shorts run the normal gamut of films in this category- social issues, quirky confections, and old people doing not old people things. Which do you think will win?
Henry: This short begins as what appears to be a citizenship application by an Algerian man who probably knows more about France than the native-born bureaucrat he’s talking to, then fast becomes an interrogation. Even though it’s literally two men talking across a table for 30 minutes, there’s more twists and thrills than most long-form films. Gripping from start to finish, with a gut-punch of an ending.
Oberst: When it comes to those from Muslim-dominant countries, France’s immigration policy tends to operate more harshly. This short plays that out in the form of a verbal game of cat and mouse, with the government representative having the clear advantage. While it is clear the Algerian man is nervous about being asked questions about those he associates with, the interrogator doesn’t provide any evidence, just accusations. Truly a disturbing and compelling narrative.
La Femme et la TGV
Henry: This, on the other hand, was pure pap. This story of what looks like a woman in her mid-50s is pitched firmly to the mid-70s crowd (her son’s even trying to put this woman who bikes miles to her bakery every day in a retirement home for some reason). She waves a flag at the TGV high speed train every day, embarks on a pen pal relationship with the conductor, makes friends with an awful millennial, and even turns her bakery into the biggest hit in town by hiring the young’un and actually putting forth an effort for the first time in decades… Insipid. I mean, look at that fucking poster.
Oberst: If this short had been any more syrupy I’d have needed both legs amputated.
Henry: This one had its heart in a more right place, but feels like a full film condensed into a short purely for the purposes of getting the real full-length film made. This does a complex story no favors, as a Danish woman and an African immigrant meet, have a relationship with ups and downs, and separate with lightning speed. The fact he has a wife and children back in Africa could have and probably was intended to be handled in a more morally complicated way, but ends up making him just look like a cad in the exchange.
Oberst: The immigrant in question in Silent Nights is kind of a horrible human being. He has a wife and children, but lies about it to a girl he impregnates. Then when he needs to send money home to help his family, he’d rather steal from the one place in town that is actually helping immigrants than ask people for a bit of help. Perhaps if the story spent some time developing the characters more it would provide me with a reason to empathize, but instead I only see a selfish jackass.
Henry: Like Whiplash for elementary school choirs, but with a crowd-pleasing comeuppance, this battle of the wills between a task-driving choirmaster and the children she convinces to lip-sync to win a big competition may not be all that formally daring but may be the most overall enjoyable of the field.
Oberst: The climax is a solid delivery and twist on a time-tried formula, though the short runs a bit too long given the simple premise.
Henry: Although, I’m sure some would argue this quick, quirky story of male and female security guards who woo each other into dancing through showing off to their parking deck’s security cameras is the most fun. It certainly has a nice punchline, and an attractive conceit in general, but it’s undeniably the slightest of the entrants in both subject and length.
Oberst: This is a clever idea for a 3-minute youtube video.