Thursday, February 24, 2011

Animated Shorts - 2011 (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animation / 2011

Collaged safaris and painted travels are abundant in this year's group of animated short films. 

First, there is Bastien Dubois' "Madagascar" that utilizes the director's own watercolor sketches made during his actual sojourn to Africa. The film has a tactile painterly quality that echoes Paul Gauguin. The narrative  unfolds in an interactive series of postcards turning each and every one of us into a pedestrian tourist sunk deep in the cosmopolitan cafe world of this African island. The film highlights a funereal "turning of bones" ceremony and the trek is as rich as a Paul
Bowles story. One can almost hear the call of a Believer within this fast paced flickering voyage of man and beast.

Next "Let's Pollute" (USA) is a satirical look at Western society and the cycle of waste abuse that we have all heaped upon the planet. The film takes as its model educational films from the 1950s. The sarcasm and pointed ridicule rivals Stephen Colbert. For anyone who would have liked "the Inconvenient truth" to be narrated by John Waters, this short subject is for you. 

Australian made "The Gruffalo" bears a similarity to "Ice Age". The film illustrates the survivalist adventures of a small mouse on the quest for a nut. It is perhaps the most child-friendly of the bunch, but its eccentric voiceovers by Jon Hurt and  Tom Wilkinson make this film highly watchable and sure to please. An added draw is the  irreverent anthropomorphic whimsy that pervades throughout.

The Disney produced "Day & Night" is a lighthearted plea for altruism and sharing between two opposite creatures. This giggle in miniature is rich and colorful as only a Disney film can be, recalling some of the golden spirit of "Who Framed Roger rabbit?" in its free association and its depiction of a realm all its own for us to explore.

A favorite of mine is the post- industrial, Gilliam-like vignette "The Lost Thing" which takes us to a hybrid world of organic creatures and mechanistic beings, where Artificial Intelligence appears absent. This universe is peopled with human drones and slogans like "tomorrow is the tomorrow you wanted yesterday" and "the truth is overrated". Vacant buildings stand in De Chirico solitude and the machines alone emote the most human of joys. The spirit of  Samuel Beckett is clearly visible  with a kind of amphibian  that walks with a reel to reel tape recorder. Amnesia and the eventual forgetting of oral stories is pervasive. This selection is a must see.

Special Commendation has been given to the existentially bleak but nonetheless masterly "Urs", (Germany) and the heartfelt and idiosyncratic "The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger" by comic genius Bill Plympton. Never has the crusade for vegetarianism been so wittily or colorfully handled. 

In watching these films you will travel far and wide, exploring as many countries of opinion as there are colors in a spectrum. 

Write to Ian at

No comments: