Posts in SHORT FILMS
OSCAR PREDICTIONS: The minor film categories

It’s time to breakdown each category and put some stone cold predictions into digital ink. Throughout the busy awards season, this website’s 2019 Awards Tracker has been my workspace to tally all the early award winners. That prognostication data is cited in these predictions. This column examines the minor film categories of foreign film, documentaries, animated films, and short films. As I say every year, stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!

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CAPSULE REVIEWS: The 2019 Academy Award nominees for Best Animated Short

Call it a critic’s perk, but it is an absolute treat to be able to annually view and review many of the Academy Award nominees for the minor film categories. This year’s finalists for the Animated Short category are the best field in several years. They vary in emotional anchors and artistic styles, but sacrifice little in quality, effort, or impact. Locally here in Chicago, these selections are playing at the the Landmark Century Centre Cinema location in Lakeview.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: Friends and Other Spooky Things

The same cadence of thinking can be extended to the upcoming short film Friends and Other Spooky Things by local Chicagoland filmmaker George Sourile.  He chose the right adjective to include in that title because spooky is the proper wavelength of charm that makes something small and DIY like this work.  It’s a nudge of an easy stroll that tip-toes rather than stomps and a worthy notch of greenhorn accomplishment, and that’s all it needs to be.

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DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM REVIEW: Donald in Mathmagic Land

Frees’s voiceover goal is to change Donald’s mind about math, to ruffle his feathers of antiquated ideas, false concepts, superstitions, confusion, and general bungling (all revealed in pseudo-analog-Inside Out fashion).  Whether the knowledge of these “boundless treasures of science” stick in his bird brain remains to be seen.  Spirited and pristinely stylish animation, dancing shapes, and moveable manipulatives fill the screen backed by music from Buddy Baker, a veteran of 26 Disney films of the era.  

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COLUMN: Sofy.tv emerges as an amazing new platform for short films

Every Movie Has a Lesson has gradually become more and more of an advocate and proponent of the buried treasure that is the short film scene.  I'm excited to share this report of a promising new hub named Softy.tv for audiences to experience and enjoy more from this branch of the film medium. Enjoy and learn up on this great viewing opportunity!

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: The Prince

n concisely thematic way, the award-winning short film The Prince, written and directed by Kyra Zagorsky, is a moving artistic interpretation of one of those such moments.  It indeed has a thought-provoking story to tell, and the result creates a resonating effect in short order, the chief goal of a good short film.  The Prince’s key to accomplishing its depth is the twin layers it uses to portray and describe its moment.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: The Photographer

Underneath the on-screen actions in director Mark Sobol’s dynamic short film The Photographer, the motif of voyeurism is dissected from a presented theory.  A male narrator orates an internal monologue opening on the notion “a subject is so much more beautiful when it doesn’t know its being watched.”  Assigning beauty to a moment that is not the observer’s to share in begs a few life lessons.

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MEDIA APPEARANCE: Guest on the"Page 2 Screen" podcast reviewing the 2018 Oscar-nominated shorts

Together at The Century Bar of the Landmark Century Centre Cinema, fellow CIFCC critic Jeff York and I critiqued the ten short films nominated for the 90th Academy Awards for Best Live Action Short Film and Best Animated Short on the "Page 2 Screen" bost on the International Screenwriters' Association network.  Both categories of contenders boasted impressive range and buried treasure.  Enjoy our reviews and discussion!

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REVIEW COLLECTION: The Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short Film

Here are my collected reviews for the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short Film.  Listed in order of rating and true to my website’s hook, each review includes a life lesson takeaway.  A collected program of these films is available from various theater chains, including the Landmark Cinemas locations here in Chicago, starting on February 9th.  In 90 minutes-and-change, you get five exceptional works for one ticket.  Calling all Oscar completists!

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: Not Yet

For a while now, I have long wondered how someone could bottle that signature Pixar-level lightness for dramatic heft and pour it into a live-action piece with the same welcome whimsy.  Pixar's animated feature films and shorts consistently have a special way with conveying humor within the most difficult emotions  I might have found the closest attempt yet in Chad Hamilton’s lovely short film Not Yet.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: Message Received

The character of James in Message Received, played by David Chin, is a married man whose extramarital activities has been discovered by a mystery person.  His actions that follow in the taut 11-minute short demonstrate how desperation can make that downward cycle even more steep and slippery.  Things get worse instead of better and he has no one to blame but himself.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: Loyalty or Betrayal

By design and in the name of essential effectiveness, a good short film has to cut to the chase.  Their tricks of cinematic shorthand in the exposition department are what make them entertaining.  When the micro-budgeted Loyalty and Betrayal opens on the imagery of a man on his bedroom floor putting a gun to his forehead, a chase has certainly been cut.  Writer/director Jonathan Vargas grabs us right there and locks our gaze.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: The Other Place

Dashes of kink and horror mix within Lee Amir-Cohen to create moments of shock and heat shared with Amanda Maddox in the short film The Other Place.  The star, who also writes and directs this short, has crafted something creepily captivating in front of and behind the camera.  Contracted properly as a short film that leaves you wanting more, this shot glass of venom is a properly measured jolt.

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CAPSULE REVIEWS: Short films of the 5th Chicago Critics Film Festival

Over 40 feature-length and short films, many of which making their Chicago premieres, graced the main screen of the Music Box Theatre this past week-and-change as part of the fifth annual Chicago Critics Film Festival.  It was an honor and pleasure to be be granted press credentials to cover the event.  Here are my collected capsule reviews of the short film programs.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: Jack & Amelia

The key strength of “Jack and Amelia” is the focused narrative that sketches a telling and accurate microcosm example of Chicago.  It blends lifestyles for people feeling the city’s stresses in their own unique ways.  Just when you think you these four central characters are random and will stay random, the short-order shifts and twists of “Jack and Amelia” push their destinies forward in engaging and cunning ways.  This really was a blossoming treat.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: The Debt

2017 Chicago Irish Film Festival: Short Program II

Kids not only say the darndest things, but do the darndest things too.  “The Debt” is a highly charming short film illustrating a child’s view of courtship and love.  The romantic ways of the world are foreign to the young, so they make up their own ideas.  Engaging and well-acted by youth performers, this short film will charm you to pieces.

 

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: More Than a Barbershop

2017 Chicago Irish Film Festival: Shorts Program II

In the world of poker, they say all you need is a chip and a chair to play and be a factor.  For a musician, all you need is a time and a place.  Your voice and instruments can do the rest.  Not every concert needs to be in front of hundreds or thousands of adoring fans powered by a stadium’s worth of light and speakers.  A singer and a microphone can fit just about anywhere.  Well, how about a barbershop, and not the quartet variety?

 

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