Wednesday, March 01, 2006

ANIMATION: 2006 Academy Award Animated Shorts

Caught the program of Oscar-nominated animated shorts presented at the Lumiere Theater.

The program started out with One Man Band (4 mins, USA) directed by Andrew Jimenez and Mark Andrews. As Landmark synopsizes: "With one coin to make a wish at the piazza fountain, a peasant girl encounters two street performers who'd prefer the coin find its way into their tip jars." There is no question this is flawlessly animated and comically paced but its final portrait of a rather cynical child undermined its pathos and left me not caring much about any of the characters. My favorite thing about this piece was the shiny aquamarine fabric of the violinist's vest. Otherwise, nothing much new that I haven't already seen and, as already mentioned, a final lack of heart.

The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation (28 mins, USA) directed by John Canemaker "[e]xplores the difficult emotional terrain of father/son relationships as seen through the filmmaker's own turbulent relationship with his father." The creativity of this piece was a bitter pill to digest. I imagine this has the best chance of winning the Oscar but its anger and rancor made me uncomfortable even as it attests that creativity might be the only recapitulation left to resolve old wounds.

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello (27 mins, Australia) directed by Anthony Lucas was visually arresting, reminiscent of Balinese shadow puppets with a Victorian twist but it could have been half its length for twice its effect. The characters dying of disease and the "monster" were eerie.

Badgered (7 mins, UK), a National Film and Television School Production directed by Sharon Colman was my personal favorite. Simply because it was funny enough with just a touch of anti-nuclear polemic to make it relevant. It's the tale of a grumpy badger who just wants the world to let him sleep, but with a pair of cawing crows and nuclear development, how can he?

9 (11 mins, USA) directed (and everything else) by Shane Acker, who can't get enough of himself in the credits. "In the shadow of urban desolation," Landmark writes, "a rag doll must face a monster that is hunting his brethren and stealing their souls." Though interesting to look at, I felt like I was watching Jurassic Park. The best part was the eyes of the rag dolls and their wheel-like graveyard.

To round out the program Bill Plympton's The Fan and the Flower was included. It didn't look much like his normal morphwork, which is good I guess, though it looks like he took a step backward instead of moving on. It also reminds me very much of the logo clip for San Francisco's Doc Film Institute, only there it's a camera in love with a butterfly, yanking himself off a tripod and eventually flying away.

All in all, though I'm glad I saw them, I wasn't thrilled as I often am with animation and didn't feel inclined to stick around for the live action shorts.

Via Dave Hudson and the Greencine Daily I stumbled upon Neil Genzlinger's review of the Oscar-nominated shorts programs (both animated and live action) for the N.Y. Times. He, mentions The Moon and the Son favorably and describes One Man Band as "adorable but appetizer-length."

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