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2006 Oscar-Nominated Live Action Shorts   (released 5/11/2006)
By Ali Imran Zaidi

Magnolia Pictures, an independent distributor with credits such as The World's Fastest Indian, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and several of Steven Soderbergh's latest digital 'experiments' has compiled animated and live-action shorts nominated for the 2006 Oscars for theatrical and cable release. Here are some quick reviews of the live-action portion of this shorts program, currently showing at DMAC Orlando. Perfect for those of us who really want to experience film as art but have attention spans that are just too unfortunate. It's also perfect for those of us who want to take note of the only Oscar category that frequently recognizes comedy in some form.

Our Time is Up features Kevin Pollack in a role that suits him perfectly; a dull therapist who finds a new and somewhat sardonic way to handle his patients. It's a fun film, and considering the mundane suburban setting, noticeably well shot and executed.

Ausreisser (The Runaway) is a German film. With a feel somewhere between M. Night's Sixth Sense and Adam Sandler's Big Daddy (but without the broad comedy so please don't throw your shoe at me), this film focuses on the interaction of an otherwise preoccupied man with a six-year old son he never knew he had.

The Last Farm comes to us from Iceland. A very quiet and serene film, reflected by its very quiet and serene setting in a remote valley somewhere in Iceland, we follow the last efforts of an aging man trying to avoid being put out to pasture. You might need tissues for this one...

Cashback, the British film about an introspective, sharp-witted and artistic grocery-store clerk, is an interesting one. Currently in development as a feature with essentially the same cast, it's worth a watch if for no other reason than the mesmerizing visuals. And by that I'm referring to the interesting cinematography, not necessarily the content of the second half of this film, which features a bevy of 'involuntary' nude models. I suppose if National Lampoon was a British company and went into the art film business, this is what would result.

The big Oscar-winner, Six Shooter, from Ireland, has received a lot of attention for its no-holds-barred dialogue. I won't describe it in detail here, but if you enjoy films such as Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, or Dylan Kidd's Roger Dodger, you should enjoy this one. Six Shooter takes us on a train journey home through rural Ireland as a few characters in various states of mourning encounter a straight-shooting ruffian. With a great, subtle performance by Brendan Gleeson (Gangs of New York, Sheriff McGinn; got an axe in the back from Daniel Day-Lewis), it's easy to see why this film won the Oscar. It's strange, unpredictable, and very darkly comedic.

Go watch them!

Ali Imran Zaidi is a filmmaker, writer and web developer - shooting, banging on keyboards, and making web sites in the Orlando area.

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