MOVIE REVIEWS: 2012 Academy Award Nominated Animated Shorts

It was a Monday holiday. The daughter was at a friend’s house. But the Wife and I had a narrow window if we wanted to see a movie. In the time frame we had, we could really only go to the Spectrum and see the Oscar-nominated short animation films. My wife was wary because she had heard that a couple of these films were quite violent. In fact, only one was.

Dimanche/Sunday (Canada – 9 minutes)
Every Sunday, it’s the same old routine! The train clatters through the village and almost shakes the pictures off the wall. In the church, Dad dreams about his toolbox. And of course later Grandma will get a visit and the animals will meet their fate.
And the train is HUGE! But I didn’t see the point. I suppose there was violence in this story, but it was rendered so banally that it wasn’t particularly affecting.

A Morning Stroll (UK-7 minutes)
When a New Yorker walks past a chicken on his morning stroll, we are left to wonder which one is the real city slicker.
The winner of the BAFTA, the British equivalent to the Oscars, this shows the changes of people over time. THIS film is the one with quite violent images. Great last joke, though.

Wild Life (Canada – 14 minutes)
Calgary, 1909. An Englishman moves to the Canadian frontier, but is singularly unsuited to it. His letters home are much sunnier than the reality. Intertitles compare his fate to that of a comet.
This was visually beautifully rendered, with the backgrounds as paintings. Yet the connection with the comet (or more specifically, a painting of a comet) just didn’t work for me; the story would have stronger without it.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (USA – 17 minutes)
Inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, [it] is a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story. Using a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation) [the directors] present a hybrid style of animation that harkens back to silent films and MGM Technicolor musicals…old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time.
I instantly recognized the architecture of New Orleans. The movie also borrows from Pleasantville. It is a film that will be embraced by librarians and book lovers alike. My pick as the best of the five AND the one I think will win. My wife actually cried.

La Luna (USA- 7 minutes)
[This] is the timeless fable of a young boy who is coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances. Tonight is the very first time his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work…
This is the PIXAR short that will open for the movie Brave coming out this summer. Wonderfully whimsical.

There were four additional films, deemed HIGHLY COMMENDED, shown on the program, probably because the show would have otherwise been less than an hour long. I’ve linked to their individual webpages because the initial link does not.

Hybrid Union (4 minutes) by Serguei Kouchnerov
In the imaginary land of Cyberdesert, Plus and Minus struggle with a dependency on an outdated source of energy. The mysterious self-sufficient Smart presents a new challenge for Plus and Minus and forces them to form an alliance – The Hybrid Union!
I understood where it was trying to go, but wasn’t moved.

Skylight (Canada – 5 minutes) by David Baas
[It] is a mock animated documentary about the ecological plight of penguins in the Antarctic, possibly foretelling cataclysmic results for the rest of the world.
It is pretty much a one-joke story, and the faux jerky camerawork was more irritating than innovative.

Nullarbor (Australia – 10 minutes) by Alister Lockhart
An animated road movie set across the vast and barren landscape of Australia’s Nullarbor Plain.
On a boring road, a young man can be arrogant and a bit stupid to boot. Liked it well enough. Probably not for small children, since it has a few mean images.

Amazonia (USA – 5 minutes) by Sam Chen
In the dangerous world of the Amazon Rainforest, finding a meal proves to be an impossible task for a little tree-frog named Bounce. His luck changes when he meets Biggy, a blue-bellied treefrog who takes him under his guidance and shows him the ways of the jungle in this animated journey set to Beethoven’s Symphony No.8.
The music is incredibly important to the success of this film. And a great punch line. I would have nominated this over Sunday/Dimanche.

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