Category Archives: Oscar Shorts

Eternal guilt

Academy Award nominee, The Confession by Tanel Toom is not his first film and is not the first film he’s done with a Christian theme to it. Like an unprotected one night stand with a woman of questionable repute, the film evokes sense of apprehension and uncertainty. Like the eventual trip to the clinic, you pray and hope to dear god that the sins of that night will not haunt you but deep down you know in your heart they will one way or another.

I would imagine that most young middle-class Caucasian boys do not have much to worry about in their lives, especially those who live in sleepy, rural, Irish neighborhoods which one would expect to safeguard them from some the harsh realities of life, at least until they grow under and venture out into the world. Sam fits this description perfectly, so perfectly in fact that the biggest concern of his is the fact that he is too good. Because of his sinless nature, he worries that he will have nothing to confess to the priests of his church when the day of his first confession comes. As someone who was raised Catholic and attended a Catholic school like Sam, I can sympathise in some way with his desire. Unfortunately, for our protagonist Sam, he receives much more than he bargained for when his best friend devises a plan to give him something to confess about.

The plan? Play a prank on mean local farmer by dragging his scarecrow out into the road for him to drive over it. The prank, though slightly mischievous is harmless enough that Sam can have something to confess about without much guilt on his mind. However, when this little plan goes awry the entire tone of the film instantly changes from aloof to brooding and dark. We then see the true natures of the boys. Sam’s friend, Jacob shows a surprisingly lack of emotion. While he first came off as mildly mischievous, he at that moment became a sociopath to the viewer. How could he react like that? No shock, no remorse for the tragedy he inadvertently caused? On the inside I was I was screaming at the boys: DO SOMETHING BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, YOU CAN STILL FIX THIS! But no, Jacob’s solution to the mess? Walk away and never mention it again. A demeanor, cold as the winter night air to contrast with his fiery red hair. Sam’s agony penetrates the heart of the viewer. Jacob knows his friend, knows what he might do and in an effort to subdue Sam’s emotions another disaster occurs.

Two sins. Two mortal sins to weigh down our dear Sam for eternity.

Surprisingly, the film does not thematically match the other Oscar nominees all too well. None of the other nominees had any actual death and most of the others were more focused on the theme of love more than anything.

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where is the love?!!

Oh my goodness, this film was completely baffling. I was very shocked and disgusted; the lack o care the mother had for her children was horrible. Despite the fact that I just hopped on the wagon and became aware of these world-wide shorts.

“Wasp” has no filter; i felt like the director was all over the place and that most of the scene did not flow together. The plot in this film was not well-developed; it was very difficult to understand what was taking place. The mother was wacky; she had four kids and cold not take care of them in the least. i felt for the oldest daughter because she was the only one able to look out for her sisters and baby brother.

Trying hard to follow her mother’s instructions and watch over her baby brother. The title of the movie, became slightly understanding when the wasp landed on the baby’s face and flew into his mouth. all the while the mother is trying to seduce and flirt with a gawky, fake looking David Beckhman. All I could think about is that poor baby, and pratically scream, “Get that bee out of that baby’s mouth”!!

And those girls were so unaware of how neglecting their mother was being to them. When you have kids, they do take over your life. it was clear that she was struggling to take care of them and it was very disturbing to watch. What kind of mother leaves her kids in a parking lot alone? A mother who had kids when she was not grown up enough to have them. this film was straight up awful! and for the record, abandoning your kids and giving them fish and chips does not make up for the terrible treatment to them.

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The Wasp

I just saw Andrea Arnold’s 25  ’The Wasp’ got top honors at the 2010 Academy wards minute live action short category.

Arnold drops us in the midst of a town council estate (read, the equivalent of public housing in the US). Her protagonist is a young slip of (an unwed?) woman  with four children on public assistance. She’s a tigress who will defend her cubs or pull a neighbor’s hair to correct a wrong done to one of daughter.

Arnold brings us into the woman’s apartment with hand drawn flowers and butterflies, which her girls drew, on the wall to pretty up a drag existence. The cupboards are bare; the bread moldy, with hardly enough ‘junk food’ to feed our ‘heroine’s’ brood. A wasp hugs the kitchen’s window. She opens the it, thereby freeing from its unnatural setting. It struck me as a metaphor of  the woman’s claustrophobic existence.

She longs for a momentary release, it seems to me, and it comes with her meeting again with an old flame Dave who asks her out.

She lies to him about her children who she brings to the bar where she’s hooking up with Dave. She leaves them outside to play, while she goes inside to meet her date.

Zoom to the denouement, Dave brings her to his auto. The two go in for heavy petting after he expresses more than desire for her. In the meantime the wasp reappears and goes into her baby boy’s mouth. The children hiding in the parking lot scream for their mum. In sum, the game’s up, Dave discovers she has four children, but in the end doesn’t seem fazed by that since he will have a serious chat, meaning the two will end up together in her council flat. And so the wasp opens up a path to a new life for everyone.

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Mum! Sunset, Please

“Hey, baby. I want to know, if you’d be my girl,” or however, the song goes. If it’s the lady from “Wasp,” no! The film won an Academy Award in 2005, and it is not that it should not have but more about what else would have. It is hard to not choose a short film about a single mum from the U.K. who has three young children, no car or food, little money and the desire to relive and alter past moments in hopes of it bettering her present.

How many women would accept an invitation to go play pool during the daytime, at a pub, with a guy she once liked a long time ago and had not seen in ages? About none to one. This case was different though. It was as if she traveled back in time; he still wore a studded earring that is as fake as a Larry David smile, drove a busted car that as a teen would have been cool to have but as an adult makes you want to rather walk, is broke, still kisses as he did in his freshman year in junior high, and, the icing on the cake, he still lives with his mom.

The film is dependent on sympathy and can really change one’s mood for the worse in it’s short time. It is an emotional piece with thanks to skilled acting and direction. Still, how many want to leave a theater with their emotions in a rut? Yeah, life is not always charming and nice, but please let the movie be. There are too many Sunset Limited(s) out right now. Save me the sunset. Keep the wasps.

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Poverty Can End on a Good Note

Andrea Arnold’s 2005 short film Wasp, follows the lives of a mother and her four young children as they struggle to survive the brutal conditions of poverty and hunger.

Arnold’s film stands out from other short films with the same theme by leaving viewers with an impact so powerful, they actually feel as if they are witnessing Zoe and her children’s existence first hand.

What made Arnold’s film as exceptional as it is, was its reality. Children forced to watch their mother fight and curse, having to eat crisps and coke for dinner, forced to sit outside of a rundown bar as their mother attempts to seduce the man inside, and more tragic and heartbreaking scenes that are unfortunately not that uncommon.

As I watched this film I could not help but feel bad for these children and their situation. Each scene progressed with a feeling of suspense as to what will happen next. Would one of the children die from starvation? Get kidnapped? Hit by a car? Or, as the film suggested, die due to a wasp sting?

What intrigued me most about the film was the ending. The mother and her children driving away in a car listening to an upbeat song and singing to it, as if they had no problems at all. This song was a symbol of hope, that this family took a horrible situation, and proceeded to see the good.

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Will Someone Please Put a Diaper on that Kid?

A Hot Mess…

That is all I can say about the short film, “The Wasp.” How this film won an Academy Award in 2005 is beyond me. This live action film depicts Zoe, a woman who makes Charlie Sheen look functional, and her four children. After watching the 2010 nominees, Andrea Arnold’s short film looks mediocre at best.

A Loving Family

After reading that descriptive paragraph, I bet one would love to read to a snopynosis of this film.

You have been warned.

The Wasp depicts a young family from the U.K, who are on the outskirts of life. They are not the wealthiest and they are not what you consider civil.  When Zoe meets an old flame, David, she plans to set up an arrangement in the most romantic place a person can imagine, a pub. Now where do the children fall into this picture. Well, they’re stuck listening to generic 80s music behind the pub. As any good mother, Zoe brings her children some food. The only problem is that she barely has five dollars to her name. Before Zoe and Dave make “fireworks” in the front seat of a broken down car, she is alarmed with screams from her children.

The youngest child, who throughout the movie is either in his birthday suit or a blanket, has a wasp enter his mouth as he is sleeping. The wasp leaves before doing any damage to the poor baby. The wasp is symbolic to any child. When it is in fear, it will use its stinger as a way to show that is afraid.  When a child is afraid, they begin to cry until their mothers come to save the day.

You should get the point by now. I really tried to find something positive about this film. That says a lot about it.

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“We Are Socially Piteous”

Well, I’ve just had enough English white trash to last me an entire semester.

The 2005 Academy Award-winning live-action short film “Wasp” was unpalatable to me for a number of reasons.

First, those cockney accents! My God, they’re grating, especially when issuing from the mouths of high-pitched children.

Speaking of children, they were a big part of what made this movie hard to swallow. See, when I was younger, I didn’t give a gosh darn about children in peril on film. They could be killed or kidnapped and it wouldn’t bother me. However, now that I have two nephews, one of them only five years old, I become uneasy whenever kids are in any kind of danger in movies.

Even if I watch a film I’ve already seen, it bothers me when children are in trouble. In George Miller’s pioneering Mad Max, the titular character – a cop in a post-apocalyptic Australia – exacts a bloody revenge afters his family is slaughtered. Years ago, I was all about Max’s vengeance. Now, not only am I bothered by his dead kid, but I also realize that revenge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, as it won’t bring his murdered family back.

This isn’t an overblown comparison. The children in “Wasp” are in as much trouble as the baby that was turned into roadkill by a motorcycle gang in Mad Max. Make no mistake: sooner or later they will face mortal danger and not survive, all because of that slut-mother.

You know, there’s this slop-metal band out there called “W.A.S.P.” For decades – honestly, since its inception in the early eighties – debate has raged about why the name is an acronym, and what it stands for. Frontman Blackie Lawless has never given the same answer twice when asked this question, but when it comes to the short film of the same name, I’m sure it stands for “We Are Socially Piteous.”

However, like the film, I’ll try to end on a happy note. The one good thing about “Wasp” was its viscerally effective portrayal of English white trash. The mise-en-scene was so absorbing – suffocating, actually – that I’m forced, against my better judgment, to give it the highest compliment I can think of: it reminded me of “The Wire” –  through its brutally frank portrayal of the projects.

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Mummy’s Little Mendicants

I’m a firm believer that all people should be psychologically evaluated before being deemed fit to be parents, not once the children are old enough to have faced the effects of those who would not have passed in the first place. Andrea Arnold’s short film, Wasp, only strengthens this belief.

In a mere twenty-six minute time frame, Arnold packed this film with emotional turmoil and controversial issues. As Zoë, a young and obviously unfit mother, faces the struggle many single parents face, the loss of their social lives, I could only hold myself back from jumping through the screen and shaking her for making her four young children, one only an infant, pay the price for her needs.

Early in the film, it’s almost as if Zoë herself is trying to prove to the audience that she is a good mother by defending her daughter against the woman that harmed her. Noble? I think not. While it’s obviously not acceptable for a grown woman to physically harm a child, that act is nothing compared to the harm Zoë has done to her own children. Emotional and psychological pains are real, and last longer than any physical scar.

The trail of events leading up to Zoë finally realizing that a good mother is not one that leaves her children outside of a bar while she attempts to recapture her youth left me with my own little emotional scar. To see children, actors or not, in such a dangerous situation and knowing that they will be in the care of such a lowlife in this fictional world even once the credits roll is torture.

Right back 'atcha, Zoe.

The film was so real, so tragically believable, that I couldn’t help but accept it as reality and worry for the safety of the children (and shed a tear for children who aren’t just playing the part in a film). While it ended on a note of calm relief, which for the children was simply the fact that they were given a meal and a ride home, I was left with an extremely unsettling, even queasy feeling; a feeling very few films have been able to draw out of me.

I can’t help but feel that the audience was meant to feel sorry for this young woman, or at least pity her plight as a single mother who has hit rock bottom and applaud her as her maternal instincts kicked in, but I could not have felt less sympathy for her. Rather, I applaud Arnold for being able to so accurately portray such a dreary world that is sadly not far from reality for many people.

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Starving? I don’t have money for chips, have a bag of crisps instead.

From the moment I saw a dishevelled, barefoot white woman marching down a street with her diaper-less baby boy in her arms beside her three grade school age daughters looking as if they were going war I knew I what would come next; an explosive Jerry Springer-esque fight between her and another nameless woman. She was bested in battle which sets up how the viewer should perceive this lady: a loser. I don’t think that one word is enough to describe the extreme nature of her backwardness, the aura of trailer trash that she exudes really strikes at you. The film would be a comedy if not for the fact that four innocents, her children are the sufferers of her neglect. I felt a twinge of rage seeing how they were fed. Sugar, a bag of chips and a cup of soda are not the best diet for growing kids. The fact that you see them scavenge for half eaten ribs like a pack of wild dogs will induce an anger, a sense of indignation that I personally have not felt watching any film before. Her neglect culminates in a wasp nearly stinging the infant inside his mouth which would have probably led to his death. It’s a tense scene that will have you holding your breath the entire time. All this tension and all this worry you have for the unfortunate children and all this rage you feel towards their (in name only) mother is laughed at when the credits roll. The song of the ending credits is upbeat and catchy. It reminds you of how this woman deals with her problems: she dances and sings a bit, pretends they don’t exist and keeps right on doing what’s she’s doing. Well, that’s Andrea Arnold’s Wasp.

You just know those kids are completely screwed.

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Love Stings

Wasp, Andrea Arnold’s 2005 Oscar winning short from the UK, was perhaps one of the most gut wrenching experiences I’ve ever had viewing anything. Visual images transformed into physical responses and I watched with my mouth hanging open for a great part of it, squirming in anxiety for what tragedy might befall the characters next. It was that intense.

From the very first scene, I was queasy. The director’s angled shots were partly to blame for this; they followed the characters down the stairs like an eyeball constantly circling its surroundings. But the next, clearer, images of the children in tattered, dirty clothing and unkempt hair, and the baby without diapers in the arms of his barefoot mother made me just as unsettled. The fierce wrestle between her and another woman in the neighborhood was making it worse. But, lo and behold, I found that I was already rooting for someone.

I had barely “met” this woman and yet I was invested. The neighbor was pinning her down, and since I hadn’t been able to focus on the initial mother due to the frazzled nature of the filming, I started rooting for the wrong side and was hopeful that she was “winning.” But,  I quickly recalled that she wore a distinct blue nighty, the only piece of her I could recognize, and realized, “Oh, no…she’s not,” simultaneously feeling silly that I was reacting this way in the first place.

It’s like that thing they say about pets, like chicks, that they call whoever they meet first their mother. I saw her first and had faith in her. With every scene, that faith was slipping, but I didn’t give up. I just wanted to know more. I just wanted to know her story, the who’s, what’s, where’s, why’s, and how’s? Who was Mark? Did he really leave her? And for what? Where did he go? Why is she in this position? How does she still afford a home? These were left unanswered but I’m not dissatisfied with the short, I think I can choose my own “alternate ending,” so glad that it’s fiction and not documentary and I have that mental option.

I’m also so glad those children are “fine.” I kept jumping to conclusions that one would suffer a car accident, be molested, or something worse that I couldn’t predict. These children were in the worse possible, broken family situation as it were, and yet they loved their mother with every ounce of their light and fragile bodies. But sometimes, like a wasp, love stings.

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