Chuck Jaffee
Special to Prospector

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February 20, 2014
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In your shorts, Oscar

Shift sideways when you think Best Picture Oscars. Consider a different filmmaking realm, exercising an opportunity to watch films nominated for Best Live Action Short. (See them at 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday at the Nevada Theatre)

“The Voorman Problem”

God has lots of time on his hands. One thing he does to fill the time is appear in an Oscar-nominated, live-action short film.

Irreverence takes the shape of a straight-jacketed inmate being examined by a psychiatrist. This 13-minute British entry leads to a surprise.

Of course, God has the upper hand, but it’s fun to watch yet another of the mysterious ways God exercises it.

“Just before Losing Everything”

A film driven by an abusive husband need not parade graphic interactions. This 30-minute French entry focuses on a critical juncture in a women’s life — the day she affects her escape.

The film communicates some of the mundane reality of accomplishing a scary, disorderly transition. It’s difficult to fully appreciate the menace in this story, but managing the devil in the details is a freshly picked approach to better understanding.

“That Wasn’t Me”

Consider third-world children kidnapped into soldiering a war-torn homeland.

It may be inappropriately flippant to say, but the sun shines in a story about a middle-class woman hoping to free herself from an abusive husband. “That Wasn’t Me” can only call a reflected sliver of moonlight hope. No doubt, problems closer to home carry most days, but a film like this 23-minute Spanish entry enlightens the global context of living day-to-day.

“Helium”

A hospital janitor can’t help but make time day after day to tell a dying boy a story.

The world he describes floats light and fancifully with realized hopes and comforts. The boy loves balloons that can carry us through the sky.

He especially loves big airships. A helium-filled transport and a world shared by a child and a man buoys this endearing 23-minute Danish entry.

“Do I Have to Take Care of Everything”

Mom wakes late on the day of a wedding. She wrangles her clueless family (hubby and two little darlings) to get them to the church on time.

There’s fun enough in this gimmick, and this 7-minute entry from Finland gets in and out quickly.

The neatly drafted whole of it, and perhaps most of the beads on this string of things going wrong, feels too contrived to be considered excellent.

Oscar Prediction: Voting mood will select a type more than a clear best.

Fun sketches but not best film: “Voorman” and “Do I Have to”; if the freshest slant on real registers: “Just before Losing Everything”; if gravitas grips: “That Wasn’t Me”; indearing will win: “Helium.”

Chuck Jaffee of Nevada City likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at www.startlets.com.


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The Union Updated Feb 21, 2014 01:01PM Published Feb 20, 2014 09:14AM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.