This program of Oscar-nominated shorts opens Feb. 10 at the Tivoli
“A MORNING STROLL” My rating: B
This short from the UK is a triptych, with each “panel” set in a different time and rendered in a different artistic style. The subject matter, though, remains more or less the same.
In a segment set in 1959, stick figures in a black-and-white urban environment respond to a chicken that clucks down a sidewalk on its morning walk.
In the present, a young hip-hop lad encounters the same chicken in a brightly colored environment…but he’s too wrapped up in his handheld zombie video game to pay much attention to anything else.
And 50 years in the future, the same chicken is out taking his morning stroll…although there apparently has been a zombie apocalypse, for the street is littered with wrecked cars and our perambulating fowl must avoid a voracious example of the undead. This segment employs very realistic computer animation.
I can’t deduce any important meaning in “A Morning Stroll,” but it’s divertingly goofy.
“DIMANCHE (SUNDAY)” My rating: B-
This Canadian entry has the feel of somebody’s childhood memories. Drawn in a style that manages to be both crude and strangely evocative, we follow a young boy on a Sunday that seems to sum up all the Sundays of his youth. He goes to church with his parents, drives to the grandparents’ house for dinner, fools around on a nearby train track. There’s no story to speak of and relatively little humor, but Patric Doyon’s film nicely evokes the feeling of a youth gone by.
“WILDLIFE” My rating: B
Another Canadian entry, this one rendered in thickly textured paintings. Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby’s movie tells the story of an Englishman who in the late 19th century arrives in Western Canada determined to experience life in the wilderness. He buys a piece of land, builds a cabin and tries to become one with nature, although his proper British sensibilities (tea time, gentlemanly attire) stand in the way. Still, he fancies himself something of a cowboy, enduring the elements and suspicious neighbors, only to die in a blizzard. Includes several musical numbers which are used for gently satiric effect.
“LA LUNA” My rating: B+
This lovely short from Pixar/Disney and filmmaker Enrico Casarosa is a sort of fairytale about a boy who finally is allowed to go to work one night with his father and grandfather.
They row a boat into the sea, raise a magical ladder…and get to work cleaning up the moon’s surface from the lovely pulsating stars (they’re like starfish) that have collected there overnight.
The film is essentially wordless…the characters talk to each other but it sounds like gobbledeegook to us. Still, the terrific voicework makes it clear what they’re saying.
The story is charming and the computer animation quite lovely.
“THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE” My rating: A
This film by famed chlidren’s book author/illustrator William Joyce is an enchanting allegory.
A city-dwelling gent is caught up in a terrific windstorm and like Dorothy Gale finds himself deposited in a strange land populated by books that flap their covers to fly and flip their pages to communicate. Over time he becomes a sort of librarian, handing out books to the other humans in this limbo (when they receive a book their world goes from black-and-white to color). And so he lives out his life.
The story is heart-in-the-throat beautiful, but the art and animation is completely, devastatingly wonderful. The main character, Morris Lessmore, has clearly been modeled on silent film comic Buster Keaton. He’s got the familiar doe eyes and flat hat…and the wind that blows him away clearly references the cyclone scene in Keaton’s “Steamboat Bill Jr.”
This is a short I’d love to have in my personal collection.
| Robert W. Butler