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Oscar Nominated Shorts: Live Action - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Oscar Nominated Shorts: Live Action
Parvaneh: B+
Butter Lamp: B
The Phone Call: B+
Aya: B+
Boogaloo and Graham: B

parvaneh Parvaneh (Switzerland, 25 minutes) is a tale of cross-cultural friendship between two young women. Pari, the title characrer, is underage and working in a remote area of the country. The film opens with her on the phone promising to send money home to Afghanistan. But when she overhears that others use Western Union, and takes the train all the way to Zurich for this purpose, she is met with rejection due to her age and not having a valid ID. She then tries turning to strangers on the street, who assume she's raising money for charity. Here she finally meets a quasi-rebellious 18-year-old who we are conditioned to assume will take advantage of her, but instead a friendship of surprising sweetness develops.

butter lampButter Lamp (France and China, 15 minutes) has arguably the most distinctive concept of this year's group of live action shorts: it consists entirely of a photo session, a photographer taking portraits of locals in a Tibetan village. We only ever see the point of view of the camera, which remains stationery throughout and trained on families who stand in front of artificial backdrops that are raised and lowered with sometimes comic effect. And then the backdrop is removed and reveals the scenery behind with a bit of sad irony.

the phone call The Phone Call (UK, 20 minutes) is perhaps the most depressing of this year's live-action nominees. It also has the most recognizable stars: Sally Hawkins as the young woman answering calls at a crisis center, and Jim Broadbent (although he is only ever heard, not seen) as the person on the other line. It takes some time to find out why he's called and what his crisis is, which the young woman must then decide how to handle while talking to him. This one is very well acted and beautifully shot.

ayaAya (France and Israel, 39 minutes) is unusually long for a short film -- if commercials were added, it could easily run as an hour-log special on television. Aya is a woman waiting at the airport for someone we never meet, because a driver waiting for someone else has had to go move his car and asked her to hold his sign for him. That driver's passenger comes up to her, assuming she is his driver, and she opts not to correct him. Instead, she goes ahead and drives him to his hotel in Jerusalem. Most of this short film, after several minutes in the airport, takes place in Aya's car, as she drives and distracts him with conversation. Therein is included some revelations that come earlier than expected, some awkward moments that come at all the right times, and a pseudo-twist ending that is almost disappointingly predictable.

Boogaloo and Graham (UK, 14 minutes) is the requisite crowd pleaser of the bunch. This story of two young brothers raising chickens (the names of which are Boogaloo and Graham) in 1978 Belfast has by far the most humor, occasionally neutralized by the presence of armed military, and is mostly a delight to watch, making it an easy contender for the winner of the Oscar. If I were voting, however, I wouldn't go for this as the easy choice, and instead would go with Aya. It's always difficult to predict what the Academy will go for in these categories, but that's the one I would go with out of these choices.

boogaloo and graham</a>

Overall: B+
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