Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Gearing up for the ‘short’ run



Did you know slavery still exists? The winner of the 2009 Student Academy Award Gold Medal, this Indian film about a young boy forced to work as a labor slave in a brick kiln was written, directed and produced by USC student Gregg Helvey. While “Kavi” has some poignant scenes with shades of “Slumdog Millionaire,” the story builds up the suspense only to fall flat with a hollow thud when it reaches the climax. This only leaves an emotional void that’s not filled by the forced outreach message against slavery in India that appears after the film cuts to black.

“The Door”


Set in the Soviet Union after the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, “The Door” opens with a gripping sequence of a man cautiously sneaking into a gritty, bleak ghost town only to steal the door to his former apartment and drive away with it strapped to the back of his motorcycle. While this scene seems a bit peculiar at first, it ends up playing an important role at the culmination of this tragic nonlinear tale. While the film as a whole never quite reaches the raw emotion and devotion of its opening sequence, it features impressive acting for a short and finishes with a tragic wide shot that truly captures the film’s heartrending end.

“Miracle Fish”

To call this Australian short odd would be an understatement. To call it an aimless waste of 17 minutes would be more spot-on. Joe, a poor 8-year-old kid, thinks he’s having just another crappy birthday. Little does he know, it’s a birthday he will never forget. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for “Miracle Fish.” The film starts slow and never manages to pull you into its bizarre storyline. In “Home Alone” style, Joe hides from bullies in the sick bay, wishing everybody would disappear, only to wake up to a school full of empty desks. From there the film hints at the possibility of alien abduction, followed by a bloody body and mysterious agents. Before you know it the film is over, leaving you confused with no explanation for this forgettable mess.

“The New Tenants”

This Danish/American short starts out with a profanity-laced rant regarding why a particular chain-smoking male believes he should be allowed to puff away at the dinner table while his significant — male — other chews away on a stick of processed meat. Next thing you know, heroin is being confused for the flour needed to make cinnamon buns, neighbors are gunned down by a shotgun-wielding drug addict — portrayed to perfection by veteran character actor Kevin Corrigan (“Big Fan”) — and a cheating wife overdoses on the tainted baked goods. The top it off, the film ends with the gay couple waltzing out the apartment door while a cinnamon bun recipe scrolls across the screen. Yeah it’s fucked up, but damn is it funny.

“Instead of Abracadabra”

Everybody loves a little magic now and then. Everybody but the father of an aspiring magician who won’t leave the house or get a real job, that is. This quirky Swedish comedy centers on a lovable loser who gives off serious “Napoleon Dynamite” vibes as he tries to win over the attractive new next-door neighbor with daring sword tricks, which are followed by repetitions of “Chimay!” — the catchphrase he uses instead of abracadabra. The only problem is he’s not quite Harry Houdini — his first attempt lands his mother in the hospital. An endearing short highlighted by spot-on acting, “Instead of Abracadabra” will keeping you laughing.

What will win: “The Door” is just the kind of heartfelt, emotional knockout that Academy voters love to dote upon.

What should win: “The New Tenants” is a bit risqu? for the Academy, but its off-color humor is hilarity insanity.


“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty”

We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty, right? Not the way ol’ Granny O’ Grimm tells it. In this Irish short, a seemingly sweet old lady reads the classic fairytale to her granddaughter; only her version includes a geriatric fairy seeking revenge against the younger, more beautiful fairies for not inviting her to the ball. The animation is intricately detailed and features a perfect color scheme, but the praise ends there. The story is irritating and unfunny. and Granny O’Grimm is that old hag that you wish would stop complaining. In the end, Granny’s story mistakenly terrifies her young granddaughter. Personally, I would have rather felt terrified as well, rather than a feeling of annoyed indifference.


True to its title, this highly innovative short takes place in a version of Los Angeles comprised entirely of corporate logos. If the imaginative animation wasn’t enough, “Logorama” tells the hilarious story of badass Michelin Man police officers chasing a deranged armed criminal, who just so happens to be the one and only Ronald McDonald, through the crowded streets of this colorful city. Throw in Pringles Original and Pringles Hot & Spicy arguing over who is sexier, a gay Mr. Clean leading a tour through a zoo of Lacoste alligators and an MGM lion and an ill-behaved Big Boy, and you’ve got yourself a party. Sure it may be just one giant advertisement, but it’s also a racy, whip-smart crime adventure.

“The Lady and the Reaper”

This Spanish short starts out as a sweet insight into the life of an old loving widow who can’t wait to join her husband in the afterlife, but just as the sweet old lady is about to be led away by the Grim Reaper to meet her husband, a doctor and his sexy bunch of nurses bring her back to life, leading to a zany tug-of-war between the forces of life and death. Although the film doesn’t have any actual dialogue beyond the myriad of grunts and exasperated sighs, “The Lady and the Reaper” makes good use of its eclectic soundtrack to enhance the constant action. Yet, as entertaining as the film is visually, there isn’t really a whole lot going on as far as plot goes. When all is said and done, it feels like nobody truly wins this game of tug-of-war, audience included.

“A Matter of Loaf and Death”

Wallace and Gromit, everybody’s favorite quirky claymation misfits, are back in a witty murder mystery that audiences will surely eat up. After opening up a bakery, Wallace and his trusty dog, Gromit, become tied up with a serial killer who is murdering bakers and looking to finish off the blissfully ignorant Wallace to obtain a bakers’ dozen kills. Jam-packed with the usual British charm, “A Matter of Loaf and Death” continues the “Wallace & Gromit” tradition of making comedic light of a rather dark topic. The result is a brilliant work of animation that features a fantastic screenplay and a plot that you can’t help but loaf.

“French Roast”

In an upscale Parisian caf?, an uptight, wealthy businessman discovers, after ordering a cup of coffee, that he has forgotten his wallet. So what does he do? He continues to order more and more cups of joe so he doesn’t have to pay the bill. Hyped up on caffeine and even further in debt, the businessman resorts to trying to steal money from the sweet elderly woman in the booth next to him. Little does he know, this seemingly harmless lady has a dark secret that leads to misconceptions and frantic confusion. With no dialogue and a limited soundtrack, the French short quickly loses steam and audience’s attention. However, it does have a somewhat touching ending that gives Americans even more reason to hate the French.

What will win: “A Matter of Loaf and Death” will benefit from the Academy’s past love for “Wallace & Gromit,” including an Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2006.

What should win: “Logorama” is innovative, unique and bursting with comedic energy, making it by far the best of both the animated and live action shorts.

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