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Friday, 10 February 2012 00:00

Oscar Shorts Program Contains Several Gems

Oscar Shorts Program Contains Several Gems moonbotstudios.com
Written by Diane Carson
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  • Director: Multiple directors
  • Dates: Opens February 10, 2012

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominates short films in animation, live action and documentary categories. For several years, animation and live-action nominees are presented in a program at Landmark cinemas here before Oscar night to acquaint audiences with these works. Of course, any compilation is a mixed bag, but most of these nominees are stunning.

In the animation group, "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" showcases a clever idea presented through superb animation, a combination of computer generated, two-dimensional sketches, and miniatures with stop motion. Morris LOVES books, so he's in heaven when a storm transports him to a library in which books fly and magically unfold their secrets. Children's writer/co-director William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg celebrate wonderful wish fulfillment with affection and humor. "Morning Stroll" and two National Film Board of Canada entries "Sunday/Dimanche" and "WildLife" left me cold with their blend of the bizarre and dreary. The Academy also nominated "La Luna," another Pixar fable with son, father, and grandfather keeping the moon swept clean of stars. Each has an endearing personality in a delightful tale.

The five live-action shorts entertain with comedy, drama and unexpected twists. Northern Ireland's Terry George directed "The Shore," which interlaces personal and political revelations. A father's return from life in America introduces his teenage daughter to his surprising prior life. Also from Ireland, "Pentecost" finds an altar boy overwhelmed with the 1977 World Cup competition, which spills over into his serving a mass. The laugh-out loud moments include clear parallels between religious and sports rituals in a build up to an archbishop's visit. It's priceless.

More serious but equally accomplished, "Raju" watches a German couple facing heartbreak in their attempt to adopt a young boy in Calcutta. They face a profound dilemma. Not so in "Time Freak," a funny look at time travel with a bit of Groundhog Day thrown in. Finally in Norway's "Tuba Atlantic" a doctor gives the cantankerous Oskar six days to live. On a gorgeous shoreline, he holds the blond personification of Death at arm's length as he shoots gulls and tries to communicate with his brother in the U.S. via a huge tuba.

February 26th the Academy announces the winners of these fine nominees. English subtitles are provided when necessary. At a Landmark Theatre.

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