Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Documentary Program B | Salt Lake City Weekly
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The opener of Program B's triptych is Our Curse, which obtrusively insists on an unblinking and ultimately lurid gaze into the abyss; it is about a young Polish couple with a very ill child, and features a borderline cruel and seemingly interminable shot in the middle of a child unable to breathe properly (parents are thus given a thirty feet high neon trigger warning). Less upsetting, and oddly hopeful in spite of its bleak indictment of capitalism is White Earth, a concise North Dakota-set snapshot of the (literally) seismic effects of the state's nascent oil industry, from the points of view of three children and one child's mother. All are fully realized people who would sustain a film of five times its length; along with Program A's Joanna, this is easily the best of the five films. Finally, we have The Reaper, a harrowingly bleak meditation on death, mortality, and man's ability to kill; director Gabriel Serra Arguello displays prodigious skill at lighting, composition, and montage, but considering that it's an unsparing look at life (and otherwise) at an abattoir, it's a pretty heavy note on which to end things.
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