Small Wonders


From Na Wewe

When the Oscars are handed out each year for best picture, actors, etc., you have the dubious pleasure of comparing your taste with the Motion Picture Academy’s. But the awards for short films are an announcement of pleasures to come, for you (and virtually everyone else outside Hollywood) haven’t seen them yet. In the five or six months after the nominations, select theaters show them and, not long thereafter, they become DVDs, easily available via Netflix and other venues. Because in the age of Pixar most short cartoons of quality can find a home on cable and the Internet, I would like to call to your attention the less ballyhooed live-action short film nominees.

In The Confession (UK, twenty-six minutes), two nine-year-olds—tender, solemn Sam and mischievous Jacob—are Catholic schoolboys about to make their first confessions in what at first looks like the American Midwest but turns out to be contemporary Ireland. Since it’s a matter of juvenile honor to have something sufficiently sinful to confess, the boys contrive a prank involving a scarecrow. It goes horrendously wrong and a woman is killed. What started as a whimsy out of Frank O’Connor darkens into Dostoyevskian torment. The children cover up...

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About the Author

Richard Alleva has been reviewing movies for Commonweal since 1990.