Sunday, February 12, 2012

Short reviews for Oscar shorts

The list of Oscar nominations in animation and live action shorts, screened last weekend and next at the DFT, is a little underwhelming. In fact it’s surprising some of these got into competition. Oh, well, that’s the Oscars for you. Let’s start from the beginning.

 In animation:

- Dimanche/Sunday by Patrick Doyon, Canada. Add this to the collection of thousands of other weird nonsensical animations that line the vaults of Canada’s dusty National Film Board (NFB), which produced it. A young boy tries to survive a Sunday among his family, in laws and townsfolk in scenes which look out of 1950s Quebec but presumably are contemporary.
A Morning Stroll by Grant Orchard, UK (still shot above). This is the best animation by far. A chicken goes for a walk in three time periods in New York City. The movie perfectly captures at least two of the eras and, for the third, well, it’s in the future.
Wild Life by Amanda Forbis & Wendy Tilby, Canada. It’s a kind of Valentine to an older relative and the settlement of a proper English gentleman on the lonely Alberta prairie circa 1909. The absurdity is appreciated to a point.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce & Brandon Oldenburg, USA. Technically this is the most proficient of all. It’s got a great theme, one all the more poignant in the advent of digital readers. But it’s unclear what it’s exactly saying and too technically adroit for its own good, leading to boredom.
- La Luna by Enrico Casarosa, USA. From the studios of Pixar and Disney this is a child’s magical realist delight, as one might except from this production house. Best for kids and the adults can smile along.

In live action:

- Pentecost by Peter McDonald, Ireland. A black comedy aimed squarely at the Catholic Church. A generation ago this would have been considered sacrilegious. And in some other faiths today (I’ll leave you to guess) it would be more than that. But, yes, I did laugh. I always do until I think about the double standard.
- Raju by Max Zahle, Germany-India, (still shot above) is the best of the bunch, about a German couple adopting a child in Calcutta. This could have been an abridged feature film. It’s taut, emotional, gives us a realistic view of modern India (which looks better to my ignorant eyes that I would have thought) and deals with questions of morality.
- The Shore by Terry George, Northern Ireland, gives us a peek into the beautifully green but politically scarred country of The Troubles. The movie starts out benign enough but, not surprisingly, delves into old sectarian wounds, ending on an upbeat note. The picture is flawed by one long ridiculous scene.
- Time Freak by Andrew Bowler, USA, has the perfect format for a short film – an out-there premise, lots of gag lines, and you don’t know quite where you’re going within the short time frame. I’m not sure why it wasn’t really memorable.
- Tuba Atlantic by Hallvar Witzo, Norway, is the second best. It has delightful black humour, a send-up of the modern help industry, and a twist on Elizabeth Kübler- Ross,  which is hilarious. But it could have been slightly shorter and has a whiff of the ridiculous.

1 comment:

  1. TFO will broadcast DIMANCHE during a SPECIAL OSCARS program on Friday, Feb 24th at 8pm, repeated on Saturday Feb 25 at 1pm and 11.30pm and Sunday Feb 26 at 6pm.