Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty
Ireland is a heavyweight of short-form cinema with eight Oscar nominations and two wins in the past 10 years. "A soft day" refers to the misty drizzle in the air. It's not quite raining, but you can feel the moisture closing in on you as you cross the Irish countryside or walk through the streets of Dublin. The four short films coming to the Film Society couldn't be more different in genre and style, yet with similarities in psyche through both esoteric and straightforward tragic themes, it's bound to be a soft day wherever you go. The Shore takes us to the Irish seaside; The Door shows us tragedy in Chernobyl; Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty delves into the animated mind of a combative grandma; and Six Shooter boards a train full of sarcastic (and disturbed) strangers.
The Shore: Twenty-five years ago, two friends parted ways not realizing they would never see each other again. Torn apart (one of them literally) by stubbornness, love, and Na Trioblóidí (The Troubles), Joe (Ciarán Hinds) comes to his childhood home with his adult daughter to finally see his old friend Paddy (Conleth Hill) and confront the issues he left behind. Neither friend is what the other expects in this beautiful Irish family story where the countryside reflects the hearts of those who dwell in it even though their feelings reside well below the surface. You also don't want to miss the hilarious, absurd, and classically Irish scene involving a horse, a fisherman and a prosthetic arm!
Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty: The shortest of the short films is an Oscar-worthy animated bedtime story doomed to make you lie awake in fear of your grandmother. Granny O'Grimm sits down to tell her grandchild the classic story of Sleeping Beauty, but it quickly becomes apparent that she's a bitter ol' bitty with a sagging body and non compos mentis who wishes sleeplessness to all more beautiful than she. The moral of the story: Beauty may not last, but bitterness is sure to give you a long, unhappy life.
The Door: "We didn't just lose a town. We lost our whole world," says the narrator and main character of director Juanita Wilson's stunning short. "Everything we smuggled with us was a time bomb... ticking... we were time bombs." This was the realization of all who "escaped" from Chernobyl in 1986 when a nuclear reactor exploded, releasing radioactivity into the air. They were contaminated, and something as small as a pencil could continue to expose them to radiation. The film is about Chernobyl, but more so it's about a group of people experiencing the loss of friends, time, family, space, and, worst of all, someone to listen to them.
Six Shooter: The final, and most astounding, of the shorts was also the debut film by playwright Martin McDonagh's (In Bruges). Six Shooter is Strangers on a Train meets Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: a dark ,dark comedy in which a grieving widower, Mr. Donnelly (as always, a pitch-perfect Branden Gleeson), boards a train and takes a seat next to a young loud-mouthed stranger (talented player Rúaidhrí Conroy), who also recently lost someone, yet seems better for it. The mystery is in the details and the details are hilarious and horrifying. McDonagh's film does exactly what a short should do: drive its audience, via its characters, to the final scene—not hesitating or wasting a moment, a glance, a joke, but making each contribute to the fabulous fringe of one fateful train ride. It's nothing short of brilliant.
Oscar Winning Irish Short Films play Wednesday, September 12 and Thursday, September 13 at 7:00pm in the Film Center Amphitheater for just $7 for Members ($8 for Students & Seniors, $10 for General Public).