Arts Desk

D.C. Shorts, Showcase 5: Mostly Meh

Reality, oddities, stress, and seeming superhumanism coexist in Showcase 5, which offers a few pretty-goods among the mostly mehs. If animation’s your thing, you’ve got a couple of highly original works here; if you’d rather see confrontation, there’s that, too. And one winner actually profiles a winner.

A Morning Stroll: Nominated for a Best Animated Short Oscar this year, this story may not exactly be award-worthy but it’s amusing enough. A man and a chicken cross paths on the sidewalks of New York City in 1959, 2009, and 2059—well, at least in the first two years, with the latter substituting a zombie in an apocalyptic scenario. It doesn’t amount to much, but the generational changes—again, barring the future—portrayed during this small act are charming and dead-on.

Junior: Tense and taut, this thriller tells the just-enough story of a detective who’s made a deadly mistake in the past. Now someone wants to make him pay, and it all goes down in a diner with the man’s son innocently eating a sandwich before a big game.

Luminaris: This very odd and strenuously whimsical stop-motion short is about two people who create lightbulbs: one by putting glass marbles in his mouth and blowing them up, the other by blinking and infusing them with light. The man keeps his plans for changing his world in his ear and gets the chance to go for it. You’ll either love this one or scratch your head.

Paraiso: Set in Chicago, this doc interviews three immigrant window-washers who give their thoughts on subjects such as the people they see in the buildings they hug to what composes the afterlife. Their philosophical perspectives aren’t at all as nerve-wracking as their physical ones as they work and risk their lives. The film is too short to offer anything that’s terribly thought-provoking, but it’s a compelling glimpse.

Private Sun: At 25 minutes, this drama meanders a bit but offers the fullness of a feature. A Palestinian woman battles her husband and her live-in sister-in-law to sunbathe on their balcony, in order to get some vitamin D as recommended by a doctor to help her bone disease. The story is rife with tension and, to our American sensibility, absurd battles, but it just makes you root for the woman more.

Sun Devil Tough: This doc opens with text explaining that Arizona State University’s wrestling team had been cut due to budget concerns but brought back through community support, and it’s initially unclear what exactly its focus is. Then it comes to light: Though the film’s synopsis emphasizes the team’s training philosophy, its star is co-captain Anthony Robles, a one-legged powerhouse who makes it to the NCAA finals. If you’re looking for inspiration, Robles provides it just by being himself.

The Man at the Counter: The story is teeth-aching treacle about love and loss, and the script rhymes. Need I say more?

Friday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. at E Street Cinema. Q&A follows

Sunday, Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. at E Street Cinema

Thursday, Sept. 13 at 9 p.m. at E Street Cinema

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