Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Oscar Nominate Shorts - Live Action and Animated (Wanous)

Oscar nominees: 'Dazzling, amusing, intense'


L'Attitudes Contributor

The 2012 Oscar-nominated Short Films open February 10, Tropic Cinema, Key West
Short Films (Animated)

"Sunday"/"Dimanche" - 10 minutes - An unusual animation style coupled with an odd story line make up this peculiar short about a Sunday in a small village. Train tracks run through the village and as the rail cars rumble and roar through town, the inhabitants go about their everyday lives. Like the odd drawings, this feature doesn't leave a long-lasting impression.

 "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" - 15 minutes - The most beautiful of this year's animated nominees, this work is dazzling, with a story line that counters the notion that the days of the printed word are numbered. Exquisitely rendered with a combination of animation techniques, this lovely film should touch book lovers everywhere.

"La Luna" - 7 minutes - A fable of a young boy who is coming of age in the most curious circumstances. For the very first time, his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work. A big surprise awaits the little boy as he discovers his family's unusual line of work. From Pixar, "La Luna" was unavailable for screening.

"A Morning Stroll" - 7 minutes - Another unusual animation technique that tells the story of a New Yorker who encounters a chicken on his daily walk. As the years go by, the man and the city change but the chicken is always there. Finally, as the city deteriorates, we are left to wonder - who will survive, the chicken or the man? It's an entertaining but bizarre tale.

"Wild Life" - 13 minutes - At the turn of the century, a young Englishman moves to the Canadian wilderness to start a ranch but is definitely not up to the task. He sends glowing reports home, exaggerating his progress. But as winter closes in, the comparison of his fate to that of a comet is sadly apropos. It's a melancholy look at unfulfilled dreams.

Short Films (Live Action)
"Pentecost" - 11 minutes - When a young lad serves as an altar boy at an important mass, he can't resist the urge to bring his life's passion into the service. The "pre-game" pep talk the priest gives the boys before the big mass is hysterical and at the end of this amusing short the viewer will be saying "No, no, don't......!"

"Raju" - 24 minutes - A German couple travel to India to adopt an orphan and complications arise. They are faced with a moral dilemma that is heart breaking and thought provoking at the same time. Good acting and sharp cinematography do an effective job of bringing the sights and sounds of crowded Kolkata to life. This intense feature forces the viewer to think of what he/she would do in the same situation.

"The Shore" - 31 minutes - Directed by two-time Oscar nominee Terry George ("In the Name of the Father", "Hotel Rwanda"), this film tells the story of an Irishman who, after 25 years away, returns to Belfast with his American daughter. His attempt at reconciling with the two people he thought he abandoned all those years ago doesn't go as planned and mistaken identities result in a hilarious chase through the tidelands. "The Shore" is a warm-hearted film with an ending that should leave a smile on the viewer's face.

"Time Freak" - 11 minutes - Stillman invents a time machine, but rather than use it to do good or change history, he can't get past yesterday, reliving it over and over like an OCD version of "Groundhog Day." The opportunities are lost on him but his friend Evan sees what the machine is doing to Stillman and finally has to interfere and 'reboot' his friend. The acting and editing are excellent and this well-made film is over far too quickly.

"Tuba Atlantic" - 25 minutes - Oskar is an old man with an obsessive hatred of seagulls who finds out that he only has a few days to live. He wants to reach his estranged brother who lives across the ocean in America but the brother's phone has been disconnected and there's no way to contact him...or is there? Birds fall from the sky and windows are shattered but his brother does finally hear from him, in a most unusual way. This short is so well done that the subtitles are almost superfluous.

My favorites are "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" and "The Shore" but all of the shorts are worth seeing. I think "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" will win the Oscar for animation because of the beautiful art and "Raju" will win for live-action because of the subject matter.

To see if I'm right, tune in Sunday night, February 26. Or better yet, join me at the Tropic Cinema and watch the telecast on the big screen. Hope to see you there.    

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