Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films - Capsule Reviews

I have now seen four of the five animated short films that are competing for the Oscar tomorrow night. The fifth film, Les Maison des Petits Cubes (which for some reason has the english title, Pieces of Love Volume 1, instead of House of Small Cubes) is still not available for download at itunes like the rest are. This angers me, as I have heard great things about this film - with some even calling for it to upset tomorrow. But, what can you do? I really cannot delay this any longer. So, below I have reviewed the four films I have seen, listed in alpahbetical order.

Lavatory Lovestory **
The longest of the nominees, at nearly 10 minutes, is also the most simply animated - and by far the most boring. You know you're in trouble when you're checking your watch during a ten minute movie. The story is a simple - a lonely women who collects quarters at a public pay toilet discovers she has a secret admirer when someone leaves flowers for her - but somehow she keeps missing who it is. The film drags, and the simple animation, while still impressive in its own right, is still rather dull and lifeless. Not really much to recommend here.

Octapodi *** 1/2
The shortest nominee, at barely 3 1/2 minutes, this is a fast paced, funny movie about two octupai (sp?) in a seafood store in love. When one gets bought and taken away in a cooler, the other goes on a wild chase through the streets to get her back. The movie is impressively animated, tells its story quickly and cleanly, and is hilarious throughout. Quite simply, it's the best animated short film about octupuses you'll ever see.

Presto ****
The film that almost everyone has seen is also clearly the best. Pixar's entry this year played at the beginning of Wall-E and is a stunning, hilarious short about a magician and his rabbit, who go to war because the rabbit wants his carrot before he'll perform. The film is endlessly inventive, brilliantly well animated, and most of all laugh out loud funny. It's almost unfair that Pixar gets to compete here - they have more time and money to devote to these things, and everyone gets to see them, but you cannot argue with the resul, which is clearly the best of the nominees.

This Way Up *** 1/2
This is a very strange little black comedy about a father/son mortician team who arrive to take away the body of an old lady, have their hearse crushed by a huge boulder, and then have to transport her to the cemetary in whatever they can, involving a series of strange, hilarious events, culminating with a weird dance of the skeletons and demons on the river styx. This almost reminded me of something Tim Burton would come up with, but the film is shade lighter than that. Still, a great little short film.

So that's it. Presto is still my choice as the best film nominated, and I still think it should win. I will try and update this if the fifth film ever comes online, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Next up - I'm try to get through all the live action film nominees - but they are longer so it's a little more time consuming, and time is one thing I don't have right now.

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