Monthly Archives: January 2014

During the Oscar season, constant buzz surrounds the films that dominate throughout. Many are nominated for best picture and almost every other category. However, a rather important category is often forgotten. The short films are often from up and coming directors, writers, and animators and tell important stories.

The three categories of short films are live action, animation, and documentary. Here, you can find a brief summary on the nominees for live action and animation. I have also included my selections for each category.

You can catch the Oscar shorts at a/perture cinema starting today!

The nominees for Live Action:

By Anders Walter
Language: Danish


When Enzo, a janitor at a hospital, comes across young Alfred, a terminally ill patient with an affinity for hot air balloons and air craft, they form a unique bond as Enzo tells Alfred about an alternative universe; the land of Helium. Helium provides Alfred with a mind oasis during his final days.

My pick for best the best live action short is “Helium.” It was a very hard decision because I thought that every nominee for Live Action was superior, but after close examination I decided “Helium” had a moving story, excellent cinematography, and phenomenal graphics and animation of the land Helium.
“The Voorman Problem”
By Mark Gill
Language: English (UK)


Doctor Williams, a psychiatrist played by Martin Freeman (Sherlock) is asked to examine the rather curious Mr. Voorman, an inmate at the state prison. What exactly is up with Voorman? Well, he believes himself to be a God, claiming that he is capable of performing outrageous acts like, perhaps making the country of Belgium disappear right before Tea Time…

“Just Before Losing Everything”
By Xavier Legrand
Language: French


This gripping short follows a young boy, emotional teenaged girl, and a middle aged woman throughout the span of a morning. Minimal dialogue adds to the suspense and helps to carry a very powerful message about domestic abuse. It leaves you cheering for the characters and worrying about what happens with them long after the credits roll.

“That Wasn’t Me”
By Esteban Crespo
Languages: English and Spanish


A very graphic short about Spanish Aid workers who come across child soldiers in Africa. This short was at times, very painful to watch, because it features everything you would imagine about an African rebel camp. Not only is it about physical battle, but it also focuses on a character’s battle with themselves between morals and survival.

“Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?”
By Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Salari
Language: Finnish


This short is about a chaotic morning of waking up late on the day of an important wedding. Everything that could possibly go wrong, goes wrong! You can actually feel the struggle of the mother of a family of four with two young girls. This humorous film is surely relatable to any family, or mother to be more specific, when you just cannot seem to get everything and everyone together.

Animated Shorts nominees:

By Shuhei Morita
Language: Japanese


This animated short is about a Japanese man who is trekking through the woods as a vicious rainstorm falls. He seeks shelter in an abandoned shrine to wait for the rain to subside. When he awakens from a nap, he encounters many seemingly inanimate objects that then come alive.

“Room on the Broom”
By Max Lang and Jan Lachauer
Language: English (UK)


An aloof witch and sassy cat brew up a potion to make a flying broom. During their journeys on the broom, the witch and cat pick up some new friends (and enemies) along the way. With narrations throughout the short, this film is told like a moving picture children’s book.

“Mr. Hublot”
By Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
Language: French


Similar to Wall-E, this short is about a man made out of bolts and slabs of metals living in a futuristic mechanical world. He rescues a stray puppy who grows quite large… It follows the relationship between a reclusive man and an outgoing dog as it grows.

“Mr. Hublot” is my pick for the animated shorts category because it pulls with your emotions and ends in such a charming way. Not to mention, the animation is very well done!

By Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
Language: English (USA)


When a young boy is found living in the wilderness with the wolves, a hunter takes him under his wing and brings him to live with him in his modern village. He cleans up the boy and enters him into school. However, the boy’s transition into village life is not as smooth as planned.

“Get a Horse!”
By Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
Language: English

This short takes viewers back to Disney’s classic Mickey Mouse. Mickey and his friends go for a hay ride, but are disrupted by a certain peg-legged enemy who tries to wreck the friends’ joyful wagon ride.

While scrolling through movies on Netflix one night a few months ago, I came across Donnie Darko. Having heard mixed reviews on the film, I was both curious and reluctant to watch it. One person told me it is really weird and confusing, while another vows it is one of their all-time favorites. So, sitting in my bedroom at 1am on a Saturday night, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone of foreign comedies and understated films, and instead view this baffling cult classic. Keep in mind; I watched it in my bedroom in darkness with the exception of my laptop’s illumination. Oh, and not to mention I really do not like movies that are even the slightest bit scary… so, as you can imagine, I was in for a real treat watching this psychological thriller…

The first time Frank, the monstrous human sized bunny rabbit, a recurring hallucination appeared and started talking, I flipped out. So tempted to stop watching because of my lack of guts with scary films, I decided to stick it through and am so glad I did!

Donnie Darko, directed by Richard Kelly, gave Jake Gyllenhall a start in acting, as well as Ashley Tisdale and Seth Rogen. Patrick Swayze and Drew Barrymore also play large roles in the movie. Having been released in theaters after the 9/11 terrorist attacks caused the film to be underrated likely due to the content of the movie. Donnie Darko includes scenes of a part of a plane mysteriously crashing into the Darko home, more specifically, Donnie’s room, and features the song “Mad World,” by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews. However, the unsuccessful entrance into theaters may have been the best thing to happen to Donnie Darko, because the product was a massive cult following that still grows today.

A truly great film is one that makes you think and question – which is precisely what Donnie Darko does. I may have been freaked out the night I watched it a few months ago, it may have kept me up until morning, theorizing, and still does today, but that is what makes it such a phenomenal film– having so much impact on me and millions of others.

When it was announced that Donnie Darko would be playing at a/perture cinema this weekend for n/ight shift, of course I was instantly thrilled. Being played later at night increases the intensity and eeriness of Frank, the rabbit, and subject matter. Donnie Darko will be playing Friday and Saturday night at 10:30pm, and Sunday night at 9:00pm with tickets only at $7.

Most importantly, so many of us have either a. not seen Donnie Darko (well, at least my generation…) or b. have never seen it in a movie theater setting. Viewing a cult classic in a movie theater surrounded by its followers has got to be the best way to watch this film making it a top priority this weekend. I hope you all come out and revisit theories you have thought long and hard on… maybe even coming up with new ones…

“If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song,” says Llewyn Davis multiple times throughout the Coen Brother’s latest film, Inside Llewyn Davis. The movie follows struggling folk singer Llewyn Davis throughout a week. Taking place in Greenwitch Village of New York City during 1961, the film balances social and political issues of the 1960’s while portraying the struggles of an essentially homeless musician during New York’s frigid Winters.

Llewyn Davis is a somewhat anti-heroic character. With guitar in tow, he bounces from one friend to another, bumming a couch to sleep on between gigs at The Gaslight Café in The Village. Often staying with a fellow folk singer, Jean (Carey Mulligan) who detests his presence, but at the same time feels the need to look out for him because he does not look out for himself. Penniless Davis, struggles between returning to the Merchant Marines, or staying in New York to pursue his music.

Llewyn Davis is played by Oscar Isaac, who also does vocals and performs on the guitar. Llewyn’s partner in the film who has committed suicide, is featured by Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons in songs like “Fare Thee Well.” Isaac also opens the film with a performance of the song “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me,” at the Gaslight Café which really sets the tone for the film. Singing lines such as, “I wouldn’t mind the hanging, but the laying in the grave so long,” which is much like Davis’ pending career as a folk singer.

Davis’ struggle is very relatable and real for everyone because of his risky career choice. In just a week’s time, Llewyn sleeps on three different couches, manages to lose the cat of one of the home owners he stays with, finds out he has gotten a friend pregnant, hitchhikes in two cars from New York to Chicago and back, and then is presumed to do it all again. However, even though it is so scary to be homeless, Davis pulls it off with much confidence, and minimum annoyance.

With Llewyn Davis’ dynamic character, crafty dialogue, and a realistic portrayal of the sixties, it is no wonder that The Coen Brothers came home from the Cannes Film Festival as winners of the Grand Prix for their marvelous film. The movie as also been nominated in multiple categories at the Golden Globe Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards.

Balancing comedy with drama, Inside Llewyn Davis has the audience laughing throughout the film. The Coen Brothers did an amazing job at scripting the film with enough comedy to balance the mature subject matter. Llewyn Davis is also roughly based off of the folk singer Dave Van Ronk of the same period.

The film definitely makes you appreciate where you are in life, appreciate the home you live in, the family you have around you, and the music that surrounds you. It makes you acknowledge the likely struggle the musician went through before making it, if they did make it big. You cannot miss the Coen Brother’s cinematic beauty.

You can catch Inside Llewyn Davis at a/perture cinema for a few more weeks, but don’t miss out! 

With cinematography of Rome so beautifully seductive, smooth Italian narration by Toni Servillo, and wild party scenes of Rome’s socialites, it is no wonder that the first film of 2014 for me was La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty), directed and written by Paolo Sorrentino.

The breathtaking cinematography grasps the viewers attention and nearly transports them right into Rome. However, the scenes are not just gorgeous, they provide a specific point. Sorrentino’s intention was to use the cinematography as symbolism in order to deceive the audience and distract them, much like Rome did to Jep Gambardella, the subject of the film.

Toni Servillo plays writer and journalist Jep Gambardella, the King of Rome’s Party social hierarchy, who has just turned 65. Jep’s suave manner and crisp attire radiates his cool and confident attitude, making him a likable character. Living in a terrace apartment overlooking the Coliseum, it is no wonder that he is the King of Party.

When Jep reaches 65, he realizes he has only written one novel in the past 40 years. With his lack of writing and the death of his first lover, he starts to realize that time has crept up upon him. Jep becomes frustrated in search for beauty to write again, so he turns to his city and scene to be his muse– only the outcome is not necessarily the beauty he was originally seeking.

Towards the end of the movie, Jep depressively states that, “…everything always ends with death, but begins with life. Silence and sentiment, emotion and fear. The haggard inconsistency of beauty all buried beneath the world. The great beauty is just a trick.”

The powerful messages portrayed through the cinematography and speech earned The Great Beauty much recognition. Winning best cinematography at Italy’s Golden Globes and taking home five various awards at Italy’s Nastri d’Argento film awards, The Great Beauty is becoming one of the most celebrated Italian films of this year. Also gaining recognition worldwide, Sorrentino’s film was nominated for Cannes Palme d’Or and is Italy’s official submission for foreign language at this year’s Oscar race in February.

The Great Beauty is a refreshingly poignant film with amazing scenery. It is fair to say that we can expect to see great things from The Great Beauty this year in festivals and at the Oscars. If you have yet to catch this film, head over to a/perture and before it is gone; it is a must see for this year and will be playing through January 16th at a/perture cinema.