Saturday, February 11, 2012

Oscar Nominated Shorts 2012 (Rhoades)

“Oscar Shorts” Are
Big This Year

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Each year Oscars are awarded to short films, both animation and live action categories, but since these snippets of film rarely get theatrical distribution we have no idea which one to root for. However, a compilation of these films is being shown this week at the Tropic Cinema, so you can pick your own favorite.
Mini movies, these films range in length from 7 minutes to 30 minutes each. The animations tend toward fantasy; the live action films tell stories, some funny, some serious.
Among the animations, my favorite was “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” a paean for booklovers. In it, a mighty wind blows books, words and bicycles – not to mention Morris Lessmore himself – into the air a la Wizard of Oz. With straw hat and cane intact, he encounters a beautiful girl with books flying before her on ribbons. This leads him to a library where he feeds the books alphabet cereal and helps them put on their book jackets and adopts them out to good readers. As Morris ages his beloved books swarm around him like a murmuration of starlings, carrying him away. And then a new young booklover finds her way to the library door.
You’ll also encounter a Canadian short called “Wild Life,” the sad story of a young Englishman who comes to a snow-covered shack in Alberta and writes home to his parents about the grandiose ranch he oversees.
Another interesting animation was “Sunday.” Here, on a Sunday morning, a train rattles through a small village, clattering pictures on walls and overturning coffee cups. The parents go for Sunday drive with the kid in the backseat, a visit to grandma’s house. During the visit dogs, fish, and bears meet an ignoble fate. A slightly violent tale of childhood.
And there’s “A Morning Stroll,” the tale of a chicken going for a walk in 1959, 2009, and 2059, with the art moving from black-and-white line drawings to flat colors to Pixar-like modeled images.
As for the live action shorts, each tells a complete story.
“Pentecost” equates a Sunday Mass to competing in the European Cup for a young incense-bearing altar boy.
“Tuba Atlanta” takes a more serious life-and-death tone for a man facing an illness.
“The Shore” looks at a group of Irishmen who troll the seaside for mussels. And one of their own returns after 25 years only to re-discover the loved ones he’d left behind.
In “Time Freak” a friend visits the inventor of a time machine over and over again, sort of a “Groundhog’s Day” lite. The friend is astonished that his pal has only gone back one day in time. “So you built a time machine and you’ve been traveling around yesterday?” Of course, because that’s when he bumped into a pretty co-ed named Debbie.
My favorite live action was a drama titled “Raju,” the story of a couple who go to India to adopt a 4-year-old orphan. But when the new dad temporarily loses the kid at a market he discovers that Raju might in fact be a kidnapped child with parents still searching for him. He now faces a moral dilemma, whether to keep his new son or return him to a life of poverty.
Go see these Oscar Shorts. They won’t take up much of your time.

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