Short Films, Deep Messages

By Michael Leaser While fans of good, true, and beautiful cinema are rightly praising Les Misérables this Oscar season, several Oscar-nominated entries in the short film live action and animated categories also warrant recognition.Among the live action nominees, two films featuring broken men stand out. Henry invites the viewer to experience an elderly man’s advanced dementia from his perspective. At times painful and heartbreaking, yet also quite poignant, the film skillfully illustrates Henry’s frantic searching through barren hallways for the loving memories of his wife and children that are frequently eluding him.Curfew deals with a 30-ish drug addict in the process of committing suicide who gets an unexpected call from his estranged sister pleading for him to watch her daughter for a few hours when she has no one else to turn to. Both darkly comic and deeply moving, despite some strong language, this film deftly explores the broken and burgeoning relationships that prove critical to a lost soul’s terrestrial salvation.The animated film category contains a few gems as well. Adam and Dog beautifully depicts a fictional account of the first encounter between man and his best friend and how that first powerful bond of loyalty develops between a canine and his master.Head Over Heels uses rough claymation to good effect in its portrayal of a rough relationship between an old married couple that literally live on different gravitational planes within the same house. The tentative steps both husband and wife make toward reconciliation are imaginative and heart-warming. (You can read more about the film’s young, Catholic, unmarried filmmaker Timothy Reckart here.)The likely Oscar winner, Paperman, is a beautifully realized, black-and-white, traditionally animated short from Disney that shows the lengths to which a young man, with some unorthodox assistance, will go to find a beautiful young woman he met briefly on a train platform.All the animated films can be viewed online for free and are relatively kid-friendly, though parents should be forewarned that there is some brief male and female nudity in Adam and Dog.