As usual. I went to see all the animated and live action shorts, in an annual festival organized by
Normally, I see it in Berkeley, at the Shattuck Theater. But this year I happened to be in Portland, and the shorts were showing at the Hollywood Theater, a 1926 movie palace that is my dad’s neighborhood theater. (Did you know that movie palace actually has a definition? More than 1,000 seats…) I love to know enough to have a rooting interest in these two categories. If you want to see it yourself, all the venues are listed at the web site. In each category, I list my favorite first, then some brief comments on the others.
MY FAVORITE: LET’S POLLUTE USA/6 MIN
Director/Writer/Producer: Geefwee Boedoe
Announcer Jim Thornton does a letter-perfect sendup of all the announcers of all the educational films of the 1950s and 1960s, in this cunning put-down of America’s consumer society. This is my favorite kind of short: funny, clever, well-written and thought provoking. Like those educational films, this should be the first of a series.
DAY & NIGHT USA/6 MIN
Director/Writer: Teddy Newton
Another fine, slick, amusing Pixar effort, but it didn’t knock my socks off.
THE GRUFFALO UK, Germany/27 MIN
Directors: Jakob Schuh, Max Lange
Writers: Julia Donaldson, Max Lang, Jakob Schuh
Cute. A spectacular all-star cast of voice talent. Its roots as a children’s book are crystal clear. Sometimes adaptations are amazing; this one is merely good.
THE LOST THING Australia, UK/15 MIN
Directors/Writers: Andrew Ruhemann, Shaun Tan
Lovers of visual splendor and complete and utter whimsy will like this film, which offers a sly commentary on people’s capacity for observation and the importance (or lack thereof) of fitting in. This is my second favorite. The people who made it should be encouraged.
MADAGASCAR, CARNET DE VOYAGE France/11 MIN
Director/Writer: Bastien Dubois
Sweet, winsome, lovely and pointless, unless you care madly about either the directort or Madagascar. I don’t care about either.
GOD OF LOVE USA/18 MIN
Director/Writer: Luke Matheny
I always like to laud commercial films with “normal” or “ugly” actors in service of an amusing and clever script. That is what we have here—a funny fantasy. The writer/director/star is, I think, the ugliest person I’ve ever seen in a film. But like Susan Boyle he has a lovely voice and unlike her (as far I know) he is a talented writer and director.
THE CRUSH Ireland/15 MIN
Director/Writer: Michael Creagh
Producer: Damon Quinn
If, like me, you constantly find yourself guessing what happens next, and are disappointed when you are always right, you’ll love this little utterly Irish short story about a second-grader with a crush on his teacher. If you figure out where it is going, email me. I had no idea. This is my second-favorite film.
WISH 143 UK/24 MIN
Director: Ian Barnes
Writer: Tom Bidwell
For me, live-action is almost always harder to judge than animation; I find there are more good films in this category. This is definitely the third-best film, as it tells the story of a 16-year-old male cancer patient whose wish is exactly what you’d think it would be.
THE CONFESSION UK/26 MIN
Director: Tanel Toom
Writer: Caroline Bruckner
This dark and scary film mixes elements of horror and whimsy in a way I simply did not find appealing.
NA WEWE Belgium/19 MIN
Director: Ivan Goldschmidt
Writers: Ivan Goldschmidt, Jean-Luc Pening
Here’s another very scary one, about a checkpoint in Africa during one of its periodic upheavals, as the passengers of a bush taxi are sorted by race—with great difficulty (which is the point of the film).