Thursday, February 12, 2009

More Shorts!

Tonight featured a return to the Loft Theater , where the Academy-nominated animated shorts were shown. Last year, they showed both live-action and animated shorts on one night and it turned into a 4.5 hour marathon. This year, it would have been just over 2 hours total, but they scheduled it over 2 nights before the nominations were announced, so tonight's animated shorts, instead of featuring the 35 minutes of nominated animations, also showed another 4 or 5 that were deemed exemplary, rounding out the program to about 100 minutes.

Those of you who think "cartoons" are limited to funny stories would likely be disappointed. While there were some slapstick (including "Presto" which was shown with Wall-E last summer) there were also some poignant stories, love stories, and a preachy environmental animation as well. My favorite was "La Maison en petits cubes" (The House of Small Cubes) which, despite the French name was a Japanese submission. An old man fights the rising ocean levels, building room upon room as the sea drives him upwards with time. Dropping his favorite pipe, he rents a scuba outfit to retrieve it, each descent to the next level bringing with it a flood of memories of family and past love. The hand drawn animation and music were a perfect match for the nostalgic mood of the 12 minute animated short.

My second choice, but the crowd favorite was "Oktapodi" a computer-drawn animation very much in the style of Pixar Studios, this one created by a group of third-year French film students. The 2.5 minute film (shortest of tonight's features) showed the adventures of a pair of octopus lovers after one of them is hijacked from their blissful life in an aquarium to be turned into food(shades of Finding Nemo!). Given that it started out as a student project makes it even more amazing and a lot of fun.

The worse part of the shorts collection the last two nights was that Melinda was working and missed out on all of it! With only a single night showing of each collection, you are out of luck if you have a conflict. I feel fortunate to see them - the New York Times says they're only being shown in a couple dozen theaters. This is the 4th year The Loft has shown the short film collections, and with the crowds they drew, will likely continue the tradition.

The best part is that this coming Wednesday, (Melinda isn't working that night) The Loft is showing a program of French live-action short films, which will include my favorite from last night, "Manon Sur le Bitumen (Manon on the Asphalt)". Twist my arm!

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