Once again this year, an independent film maker has put together two packages: all the animated shorts (and a few extras) and all the live action shorts nominated for the Academy Award. If this feature comes to your town, see it! I am thus able to make a few comments about each of the nominees
The clear winner in my mind: Instead of Abracadabra, featuring a truly incompetent magician and a great twist ending.
Kavi, about slavery in India is moving and brilliant, but a real downer. You hope the child finds his parents again, but you don't really know.
Miracle Fish, about a school shooting, is also brilliant and also, in the end, a downer. My daughter thinks the protagonist (a child) is actually meeting his future self. That's certainly one way to read it.
The New Tenants is absurd ultra-violence. Cute and amusing in places, but over all, too far over the top.
The Door was about Chernobyl, except the film doesn't actually SAY it is about Chernobyl, so it takes a while to figure that out (at least for my daughter and myself). It's about a man who goes back to the abandoned, irradiated apartment and removes the door--obviously an object of great sentimental value. It also shows the downside of holding onto objects of great sentimental value. The nuclear plans of America certainly aren't going to sponsor this one on cable without commercial interruption. It's the biggest downer of the bunch.
The best (by a nose): A Matter Of Loaf And Death. This new Wallace
& Gromit entry from director Nick Park sticks out; it is a full half-hour and stop action. I'm sorry, I can't help it, I am a sucker for British humor and British accents. And I love Wallace
A close second place is The Lady And The Reaper, which take a great swipe at arrogant doctors. An old lady keeps trying to pass on to the other side, and a hugely self-involved doctor keeps bringing her back.
French Roast is an amusing 8 minutes spent watching a French businessman avoid the fact that his wallet is missing and he can't pay the bill. Great faces!
Granny O’grimm’s Sleeping Beauty is a lovely piece of Irish blarney, as granny loses her way while telling a bedtime story, and ends up expressing her true feelings about her own life.
The worst: Logorama more or less represents everything I think is wrong with pretentious French cinema. Is is ultra-profane and ultra-violent, and once you've laughed once at the conceit of Ronald McDonald as a murdering psychopath, the rest is just drivel. If this one wins, someone in the academy has an incurable case of Francophilia.