All this week I’ll be reviewing the Oscar nominees for best live-action short, which open Friday at Landmark’s Century Centre. Check back this time tomorrow for the next installment.
The Shore, an Irish nominee that I reviewed yesterday, dealt with two friends who hadn’t seen each other in 25 years; Hallvar Witzø’s Tuba Atlantic, its Norwegian competitor, is about a dying man who hasn’t spoken to his brother in 30, so I think we all know which is going to take home the statue. Actually these two are about evenly matched as my favorite entries, each following a small number of lively characters through a simple story arc in about 25 minutes. The protagonist of Tuba Atlantic is a solitary old man living by the seashore (Edvard Hægstad) who learns he has six days to live; in order to die at home he requires a caretaker, and one arrives in the form of a goofy teenage Christian (Ingrid Viken) blithely calling herself his “angel of death.” The ensuing comedy mostly derives from the fact that the old codger deals out plenty of death himself, blowing up fish with dynamite, shooting pesky gulls with a machine gun, even stomping on their eggs in “pre-emptive strikes.” The title motif—a giant wind horn the man has constructed to communicate with his brother across the ocean—didn’t do much for me, but the relationship between the man and the girl follows in the finest traditions of Scandinavian deadpan. A trailer follows the jump.