Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Oscar Animated Shorts

The Opera Plaza & Lumiere cinemas are showing special programs of Oscar shorts. I don't know how else anyone would see these, since no one actully shows shorts before the main feature anymore. But the only reason I went was to see the latest Wallace & Gromit adventure, A Matter of Loaf & Death. It's a half hour of fun made for TV broadcast on Christmas 2008. Thankfully, it was exactly what I expected: a wacky send-up of the thriller genre with affectionately goofy references to such unlikely films as Ghost & Aliens. It made me laugh & feel cheerful. Interestingly, it has a love interest for Gromit, & I'm still wondering if this is OK. The film is not as deeply elaborate or ingenious as past films, but I am glad that the franchise is still going. Peter Sallis better not pass away any time soon.

Besides the 5 nominated shorts, the program was filled out with 3 "highly commended" shorts: Runaway (Canada), The Kinematograf (Poland) & Pixar's Party Cloudy. Except for Wallace & Gromit & Runaway, everything had that 3-D computer animation look. Violent or otherwise unnatural death is a feature of nearly every short. The punchline of The Lady & the Reaper (Spain) is a suicide.

Of course I'll be rooting for Nick Parks to win yet another Oscar, but I did like the twisted humor of Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty (Ireland), in which a story-telling grandmother identifies way too much with the wicked witch in Sleeping Beauty. I found the CGI look of the human characters in Kinematograf too freakish. The last film in the program, Logorama, is preceded by a parental warning & a long pause, during which we can accompany the kiddies out of the theater, I suppose. The film is a foul-mouthed parody of Hollywood blockbusters, enacted in a universe populated entirely by corporate brand logos behaving nastily.

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