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At the Cinema Arts Theatre to March 17

It’s not often these days that you watch a movie and are disappointed when the final credits begin to roll. But that’s exactly what happens in “Cinema: A Program of Academy Award Nominated Shorts 2005.” And happens again—and again. A program of seven of the short films that were up for Oscars this year in either the live-action or animated categories, “Shorts 2005” includes only one pretty trifle: Gopher Broke, a 5-minute cartoon about a luckless gopher scheming for farmers’-market vegetables. The rest of these exercises in brevity are mini masterpieces. The winner of the Oscar for animation, Ryan, is a documentary of sorts, with director Chris Landreth essentially illustrating his interviews with once-celebrated but now destitute Canadian animator Ryan Larkin. Landreth’s images are bizarre, harsh, and entirely effective as he portrays men literally hollowed, shackled, or flattened by their demons. Of course, there’s also some plain ol’ good storytelling: Two Cars, One Night shows a dryly funny and touching friendship that blossoms when a couple of kids are waiting for their parents in a parking lot, and the winner of the Oscar for live action, Wasp, is a heartbreaking portrait of a trashy 23-year-old mother who puts her four children at risk when she’s asked out on a date. And the topic of war is shared by the animated Birthday Boy, a quiet, devastating depiction of a Korean child who, in 1951, happily fights pretend battles while his father is off facing a real one, and the slightly less effective Little Terrorist, a tense story of a Pakistani boy who dares retrieve his ball from across the Indian border. But the strangest and most beguiling film of the lot is 7:35 in the Morning, which takes place in a diner a woman visits every day. One morning, she walks in to find the customers and staff silent, though they soon burst into the catchiest song you’ll ever hear—orchestrated by the woman’s apparent stalker. You’ll want to listen to a few more bars when the film comes to an abrupt close, but as the lyrics say, “Don’t forget that the best things in life must be allowed to begin and allowed to end.”

—Tricia Olszewski