akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
Generally the live-action short films are a depressing bunch; Barb and I tried to guess how many of them would feature dying children, and how many would be set in war-torn countries. There are no terminally-ill children this year -- yay! -- but instead there are 3 children in danger. Two children and one infant, really). I'm a sucker for those few short films that are funny or somehow SFnal/fantastic (it's a good form for compactly presenting a fantasy situation), but there was only one humourous film and nothing with any fantasy. The live-action short films (here's a roundup of how to watch them):
  • Ave Maria: an Israeli family gets in a car accident on the West Bank, and seeks the aid of a convent of nuns. This was funny -- the nuns have taken a vow of silence, and the loud, arguing family could have been designed to irritate them.
  • Shok (Friend) is a harrowing reminscence of 1990s Kosovo, where Albanians are being threatened by Kosovans and two young boys try to earn money from the Kosovan forces. Very glum.
  • Alles Wird Gut (Everything Will Be Okay): a tense story where it becomes clear that a divorced father is planning to kidnap his daughter and flee with her to another country. Will he succeed? A few years back there was a similar short-film nominee, the French "Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)", with a woman fleeing an abusive husband with her children. I'm also a sucker for Hitchcockian suspense where it's perfectly clear what is going on, and the tension is from whether a plan will succeed or not.
  • Stutterer: a man who stutters very seriously is worried about meeting the woman he's corresponded with online. There's a bit of wry humour here, but it's mostly a character piece. And it wasn't depressing!
  • Day One: a new Arabic interpreter has her first day on the job with US Army forces in Afghanistan (I assume). When I saw the initial set-up, I thought to myself "oh, here we go -- there will be IEDs and a firefight". The story actually goes in a different direction that's more interesting, though it's still unhappy and grim.
My ordering: "Alles Wird Gut", followed by "Stutterer" and "Ave Maria", then "Day One" and "Shok".
akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)
The animated shorts (here's a roundup of how to watch them):
  • Sanjay's Super Team: a Pixar film in which little Sanjay turns Hindu gods into superheroes. I really liked the luminous design in the battle scene, but overall this felt pretty minor.
  • World of Tomorrow, available on Netflix: my favorite. It's a weird science-fictional story that mixes comedy with existential dread when little Emily is visited by her future clone. This short may need to go on my Hugo ballot, if it's eligible.
  • We Can't Live Without Cosmos: two astronauts-in-training look forward to spaceflight, and then one of them goes while the other stays behind. The drawing style reminded me of HergĂ©'s Tintin books.
  • Bear Story [trailer]: a sad story of family separation when a bear is kidnapped by a circus. Most of this film is rendered as clockwork machinery, and uses surprising camera angles and transitions, so I thought it was very inventive. My second-favorite of the nominees.
  • Prologue: a pencilled-looking rendering of vicious hand-to-hand fighting between (possibly-Greek?) warriors and naked fighters. Good visual style, but there's no plot and not really much to it.
The presentation also includes some non-nominated films, calling them "highly commended".
  • Cordell Barker's "If I Was God..." [trailer] also switches between styles, from Claymation to 2D to papier-machĂ©. I am surprised it didn't make it into the category.
  • Two pieces from French animators, "The Short Story of a Fox and a Mouse" and "Catch It!" (featuring a bunch of meerkats trying to save their precious fruit) are fun little stories; "Catch It!" had really good character design. I expect their directors will be working on the next Shrek movie soon enough.
  • Bill Plympton's "The Loneliest Stoplight" is also fun: a stoplight tells of its one brush with fame.


akuchling: Sherlock Hemlock (Default)

September 2016

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