Thursday, February 25, 2010

Don't Want No Short, Short Film

Over the weekend, Abby and I watched a collection of Oscar nominated animated short films. Here are my reactions:

French Roast - a man in a cafe loses his wallet. Wacky hijinks ensue. I was a little underwhelmed--it was well enough animated, but the moral of the story seemed to be that if you're a douchebag who behaves irresponsibly (by, say, ordering dozens of cups of coffee to cover for the fact that you don't have money to pay for the first), then you will be saved by a twist of fate involving a bum and an old lady who robs banks.

The Lady and the Reaper - an old lady is anxious to rejoin her late husband in heaven, but is revived by a zealous young doctor. Death and the doctor feud over the lady's soul. Wacky hijinks ensue. This one had an old-school Tom & Jerry vibe, which was fun, and there were some amusing character moments (Death has a 3-headed poodle), but it felt pretty shallow, at the end of the day.

A Matter of Loaf and Death - by far the longest of the short films, this one featuring those lovable scamps Wallace and Gromit. There's a mystery, a bakery, some inventions, a love interest... It was thoroughly enjoyable, although the pacing felt a bit uneven. But it ended with a bang and some wacky hijinks. Oh yeah, it will almost certainly win the Oscar, not because it was the best film, but because it's well-made, familiar, etc, etc, etc.

Granny O' Grimm's Sleeping Beauty - in which an old lady scare's the piss out of her granddaughter with a telling of the classic fairy tale that is sympathetic to the villain, an older fairy with a bum knee who resented not being invited to the party. It's fairly clever and the animation is interesting, but the film suffered for its voice acting. The voice of Granny O' Grimm and the design of the character were oddly mismatched--the voice having the air of a younger woman faking an older woman's brogue.

There were some other films mixed in to pad the running time (and thereby justify the ticket price), all of them honorable mentions. This included the underwhelming Partly Cloudy that preceded Pixar's Up in theaters, a Canadian film called Runaway that was fanny if a bit cynical, and a Polish film called The Kinematograph, that is perhaps the most self-congratulatory bit of tripe I've seen since Battlefield Earth. But, at last, after a warning about content, we got the final film of the program.

Logorama - no wacky hijinks here. It takes place in a world completely constructed from corporate logos. The telephone poles are T-Mobile logos, the people are AOL or Bic Pen logos, the main bad guy is Ronald McDonald, who steals a truck full of weapons and takes a Big Boy hostage. There are spectacular car chases, disasters, wild animals (including the MGM logo) running through the streets. The police are all Michelin men. The story could come from any gritty, hard-boiled action movie, but it's a cartoon in which every character, location, and background is a recognizable product. It was at once the most realistic and surreal film of the entire show.

It was jarring, funny, unsettling and thought-provoking, and it's my pick for the Oscar (even though it's going to lose to Wallace & Gromit). I hate to spoil it, so find a way to see it if you can (it'll show up on YouTube before too long).

Then again, maybe Logorama wasn't the "best", per se. Maybe it just appealed to my bizarre, twisted sense of humor. After all, my favorite animated short film ever was a little Polish gem called Fallen Art that is bizarre and twisted to say the least.


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