Judge Joel Pearce thinks it's more politically correct to refer to them as "running-time challenged" films.
A long awaited opportunity is here…
While the Academy Awards are popular, there is always a problem for viewers at home: most of us haven't seen many of the films in competition. Since the advent of DVD and the rising popularity of foreign and independent films, we now have better access to some of those nominees that we've never heard of before.
Even in recent years, however, there are some categories that remain out of our reach. Short films don't show often (if ever) in North American theaters, and few of us have access to these little gems. Because of that, the short film categories aren't cared about much. It's a contest between five films we've never heard of, and will probably never have the chance to see.
Magnolia entertainment had the brilliant idea to collect as many of these shorts as possible, and release them on a single DVD. Now, we have a chance to sit down and watch some of the best short films created in 2005. That can only be a good thing. Short films, like short fiction, accomplish very different things than their longer counterparts, and have something unique to offer. This disc includes both live action and animated films, which I will describe and judge individually:
• The Last Farm
• The Runaway
• Six Shooter
• The Mysterious Geographic Expeditions of Jasper
• The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation
Two of the nominated animated shorts could not be included in this anthology for copyright purposes. To make up for that, Magnolia has included two other animated shorts instead. Unfortunately, I have no idea whether they are any good or not, because they were not included in my screening disc. Still, the eight films included here represent some of the best short films that I have ever seen, and deserve to be experienced by a much wider audience.
This brings us to the technical quality of the disc. The video transfer varies from film to film, as each one was shot in completely different conditions. Some of the films look excellent, and others do notlook as good, but it's hard to tell how much of that can be attributed to this DVD release. Inexplicably, Magnolia presents all of the films in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, even though they were shot in a variety of aspect ratios. This means that shorts shot at the 1.33:1 ratio have black bars on top, bottom, and both sides (on standard televisions, anyway), while those shot at the 2.35:1 ratio are letterboxed within the 1.85:1 frame. High-end players with advanced zoom functions may be able to minimize these ill effects, but not without severely compromising the image quality. Magnolia should have transferred each short at its original aspect ratio.
The sound is acceptable, with each film presented in stereo. I'm sure that some of the films were mixed in 5.1, but it hasn't been included here. Still, none of the films are difficult to understand, so it's a minor complaint. Aside from the two bonus films, there are no extras on the disc.
If it wasn't for the video transfer, A Collection of 2005 Academy Award Nominated Short Films would be an easy recommendation. It's a type of collection which is long overdue, and I hope to see more high profile collections of short films hit DVD soon. Hopefully, future installments will deliver the films properly. As it stands, I still recommend that film fans rent a copy of this disc: there's a whole lot of entertainment to be had here.
All eight defendants are free to go, but Magnolia Home Entertainment is called to chambers for their video transfer fiasco.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
• Two Bonus Short Films
• IMDb: The Mysterious Geographic Adventures of Jasper Morello
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