Oscar-nominated shorts take deathly turn
By Colin Covert
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
The Grim Reaper gets all the best lines in this year's Oscar-nominated short films.
Whether the entries are a Chernobyl drama or a lark about an inept magician, death is the dramatic sting or comic punch line for most of this year's 10 entries. All the Oscar-nominated short films are being shown at Kahala 8. Highlights include:
"French Roast" (France; 8 minutes): A snooty Frenchman who can't pay his cafe tab stalls by ordering espresso all night long. The static setting gives the vignette the tight focus of a one-panel cartoon.
"The Lady and the Reaper" (Spain; 8 minutes): An old widow is happy to follow Death to rejoin her late husband. A hotshot emergency-room doctor has other ideas, sparking a frantic tug-of-war between the reaper and the healer.
"Logorama" (Argentina; 16 minutes): A profane, irreverent cop thriller populated entirely by corporate mascots. Ronald McDonald is a maniac kidnapper pursued by foulmouthed Michelin Man cops.
"A Matter of Loaf and Death" (England; 30 minutes): Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit open a bakery that makes them the toast of the town. They find romance with a rival bakery's poster girl and her winsome poodle amid knockabout murder-mystery gags.
"The Door" (Ireland; in Russian, subtitled; 17 minutes): A man steals the door to his former home in Chernobyl. His ailing daughter's radiation sickness is charted through poignant glances; the significance of the stolen door hits like a jab to the heart.
"Instead of Abracadabra" (Sweden; 22 minutes): At 25, Thomas still lives with his parents and dreams of a career as a magician. When his gorgeous new neighbor invites him to perform at her son's birthday, he unveils his high-risk blend of "gothic death and mystery."
"Miracle Fish" (Australia; 17 minutes): A bullied schoolboy just wishes to be left alone on his eighth birthday. After falling asleep in the infirmary, he finds the hallways and classrooms eerily silent. As he learns why, the mood shifts from moody fantasy to stark drama.
"The New Tenants" (United States/Denmark; 20 minutes): A bickering gay couple move into a new apartment where every knock at the door brings a jealous husband brandishing a tire iron, a drug dealer waving a shotgun and other greeters from the UnWelcome Wagon.