Friday, February 24, 2012

2012 Best Shorts Festival

For the first time, I was able to see ten of the short films nominated in the Best Short Live Action and Best Short Animated in a movie theater. I really enjoyed the experience and the way that the films were shown. Each short was introduced with a simple graphic of the name of the film, the country it is from and the length of the short. As long as the showtimes and dates work out, I very much plan on going to this event again next year.
 Short Film (Animated)
Dimanche/Sunday is about a little boy's Sunday activities. He goes to church with his parents and then to his grandmother's house. Several animals are depicted as dead and have x's for eyes. I am not sure if the filmmakers were going for awareness about the treatment of animals or if it was the animation style.

A Morning Stroll depicts three mornings in NYC, the first in the early 20th Century in black and white, a colorful modern 2009 and then an end of days 2059. The apocalyptic tone of the 2059 jaunt is a surprising shift. While the zombie action was almost too gross for me, it was a very funny short. 

Wild Life is about an Englishman moving to a small town in the Wild West in 1909. He writes home about his daily life and is fairly happy until the weather changes. The viewer also learns about comets along the way.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore was my favorite of the animated shorts. The style was beautiful, fun and had a good message about reading and loving books.

La Luna was the one Pixar nominee this year. It played in theaters before Pixar's Cars 2 this past summer. La Luna is the very sweet and enjoyable story of a boy being trained by two seasoned veterans for a job we are not entirely sure of until the end.

There were at least three additional animated shorts that were played after the five nominated films. They were introduced as highly commended and with the info of title, country and length. Then there was a 10 minute intermission.

Short Film (Live Action)
Pentecost is about an alter boy in Ireland who hits a priest with the incense container he is carrying. He will no longer be an alter boy and his father who is utterly embarrassed grounds the boy. The boy is also not allowed to watch his beloved football (football everywhere else, but you know, soccer in the US). The short was very funny and the idea that the alter boy A team was coached like a football team was cute.

Raju has the most serious subject matter of all the shorts played. The film is about a German couple in Kolkuta adopting a boy. The father and son are in a market and looking at papers floating upward in the sky. In the two seconds that the father is looking up, the young boy vanishes. The father soon learns that there is much more to the case of his missing son.

The Shore was my favorite of the live action shorts. It takes place in a small town in Ireland and reminded me of a Maeve Binchy book. It is the one short in which I recognized an actor. CiarĂ¡n Hinds is a character actor you may recognize as well. Hinds portrays Joe. Joe has returned to his home town with his eldest daughter after living in America for 25 years. It is a sweet tale with beautiful scenery and cinematography. The Shore had the feel of a full feature length film.

Time Freak is the weakest short in all. It had low production value and the acting was terrible. I am fairly certain I could make something better on my phone. I have no idea why this one is being recognized by the Academy. And it's about time travel -- I am a sucker for time travel stories but there was just too much to overlook. I can not even picture it as a successful viral video on You Tube. Sh8t Girls Say is much better.

Tuba Atlantic is the story of a dying old man in Norway. He spends his days killing the seagulls that live near his ocean-side home. He is non too amused by the arrival of his Death Angel, a teen girl on her third attempt to become and angel. This short is whimsical and sweet and was one of my favorites in the live action category.

And on DVD...
Having read Shakespeare throughout my education like most, I was very intrigued when I first saw the trailer for this movie. The movie calls into question Shakespeare's true identity and if he was responsible for the works attributed to him. The film's nomination for Best Costume Design got thee to Red Box to see one more nominated movie before Oscar Sunday. The film begins as if the viewers are there to see a play, a fun device. The mystery of the story kept me hooked though it is a bit long and there are very few academics support the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship. Vanessa Redgrave portrays Queen Elizabeth I and her daughter Joely Richardson appears as the young queen in flashbacks. The Earl of Oxford is portrayed by Rhys Ifans who looks and sounds vastly different than he usually does. Ifans' breakout role was as Hugh Grant's quirky roommate in Notting Hill. The Earl of Oxford's wife, though a brief part, is played by Helen Baxendale. For the Friends fans out there, that's Emily Waltham. The costumes are very worthy of their nomination though the plot is a bit exhausting to keep up with.

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