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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

OSCAR: Animated Shorts

The five films competing for Best Animated Short – which you can now see in markets all over the country c/o Shorts International – are quite remarkable this year.

For my personal tastes, creating a hierarchy wasn’t hard. But the four films really speak to five different kind of animation sensibilities.

I was blown away by Day & Night the first time I saw it, on screen, before Toy Story 3. I have liked all the Pixar shorts. They are really worth buying on DVD/Blu. But this one was one of my favorites ever. Teddy Newton & Co simply came up with a concept that, for me, was singular. I’m not sure I could even explain it here if I needed to… but I don’t need to… you should see it. I love the music (GIacchino, of course). I love the ideas. And the execution is like watching a magic trick you have seen 1000 times, but still can’t quite figure out… and don’t want to. A masterpiece.

I will watch The Gruffalo with my son, in a few years, over and over and over again. It’s a great piece of filmmaking, highly stylized, with a challenging story, and god stuff for both adults and kids. It’s a bit like Bill Goldman’s The Princess Bride, though it never leans quite as far to the adult side.

Let’s Pollute is basic satire with style. It’s a spin on classic public service messages, just with the exact opposite message you would expect. And just when you think you’ve got the gag and it’s getting repetitive, it finds a new spin on the idea. Excellent stuff.

Madagascar, A Journey Diary mixes a variety of animation styles, endlessly jumping from style to style as it offers a Madagascan adventure. Very, very beautiful, eye-catching, with great music, and what feels very organic.

Last but not least, The Lost Thing is a sophisticated children’s book come to life. It feels like the experience of a book that sinks in more deeply as you read it over and over again with your child. There is a lesson, but it’s a subtle as every other element of the film.

4 Responses to “OSCAR: Animated Shorts”

  1. scooterzz says:

    i loved every one of these selections and it would be impossible for me to pick a favorite…there is just so much great work here…

  2. berg says:

    Nothing quite as memorable a last year’s Logorama although Gruffalo has a tony voice cast …. the real gem this year is the Oscar Nommed Live Action Shorts …. every one of them is a keeper

  3. cadavra says:

    Agreed, though POLLUTE was my favorite. However, I honestly think GRUFFALO should have been tightened a bit; 27 minutes is far too long for a one-joke premise whose punchline is obvious from the outset.

  4. chris says:

    On the one hand, I think little kids being able to chime in with the repetition after a while is a big part of the point of “Gruffalo” (exactly like in a book for little ones). On the other hand, I agree, cadavra — it could lose ten minutes easily. Maybe I should rewatch “Pollute,” but it struck me as a cleverish short that revealed its small point very early and then re-hammered it. “Madagascar” and “Day & Night” are just about perfect, though, I’d say.

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“The word I have fallen in love with lately is ‘Hellenic.’ Greek in its mythology. So while everyone is skewing towards the YouTube generation, here we are making two-and-a-half-hour movies and trying to buck the system. It’s become clear to me that we are never going to be a perfect fit with Hollywood; we will always be the renegade Texans running around trying to stir the pot. Really it’s not provocation for the sake of being provocative, but trying to make something that people fall in love with and has staying power. I think people are going to remember Dragged Across Concrete and these other movies decades from now. I do not believe that they will remember some of the stuff that big Hollywood has put out in the last couple of years. You’ve got to look at the independent space to find the movies that have been really special recently. Even though I don’t share the same world-view as some of my colleagues, I certainly respect the hell out of their movies which are way more fascinating than the stuff coming out of the studio system.”
~ Dallas Sonnier

“My first objective relationship in life was with the camera. I didn’t understand anything but then I realized the camera is my friend. It doesn’t lie to me. It doesn’t manipulate me. It only reports what I’m doing. And therefore, for me to work with a camera and the camera to be directed by an artist, a craftsman, someone who knows what he or she wants, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
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