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Super Shorts: Two Cars, One Night

Missing HBO's (recently canceled) slice of New Zealand quirk, Flight of the Conchords? Well, this Oscar-nominated flick will heal the pain, giving you a night of tweenage kicks.

Two Cars, One Night

The Oscar for best short film is a good bellwether for directors to watch (often foreign, too) in the future. Take Martin McDonagh, who won in 2006 for Six Shooter, and two years later, had an Oscar-nominated cult hit that redeemed Colin Farrell with In Bruges. Or then there's Andrea Arnold, who won in 2005 for her short Wasp, and her new fllm, the intense Michael Fassbender-starrer and Cannes-favorite Fish Tank, will have a New York release on Friday, January 15. Taika Cohen, nee Taika Waititi (the professional name change is new, coming along with his 2010 Sundance premiere Boy) lost out to Arnold in 2005 with his own short, Two Cars, One Night. Nevertheless, in this charming film, Cohen proves that he's a talent to watch.

Cohen made an impression during the Oscar ceremony, as he pretended to be asleep while they called out his name. He's a New Zealander of Maori descent, and has a background in acting and comedy. (He was in a duo in college with The Flight of the Conchords' dreamy Jemaine Clement.) This comedy background has been his bread and butter in the past few years—he's directed and written Conchords episodes and the New Zealand indie Eagle vs Shark (a flim that has Napoleon Dynamite-ish quirk; whether that charms or repels is your call).

Two Cars, One Night is funny, like Cohen's other work, but there's an elliptical magic at work. In a mere ten minutes, we get the span of these kids' lives. Two young brothers and a girl are hanging out in separate cars parked outside of a hotel bar. The younger, more outgoing brother, starts to flirt with the girl. And while that may be it, it's a special moment, and the audience dives into another world; the boredom of waiting around for parents is filmed in silvery black-and-white. According to a 2007 profile, Cohen plans to adapt Two Cars, One Night into a feature, and there does seem to be a similar throughline in the preview for Boy, which appears to be a tribute to loving Michael Jackson as an 11-year-old Maori kid in 1984 New Zealand. (Click here to see the trailer.)




Bonus: Flight of the Conchords, "Ladies of the World"

Cohen directed several episodes of the now, sadly, finished two-season HBO TV series Flight of the Conchords, reuniting with his old comedy partner Clement and other Conchord Bret McKenzie. He wrote what is arguably one of the funniest eps of the series, "Drive By," in which the band fights racism against New Zealanders. (Generally, any episode with a strong New Zealand theme, including the finale, bears Cohen's absurdist touch.)

That said, our pick for the best Cohen-Conchord video (and funniest with or without context) is "Ladies of the World," from the first season's tenth episode, "New Fans." Enjoy, ladies of the world!



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