Animated Oscars

This is the traditional time of year to discuss who is going to take home which gold statue and why, and whether or not they deserve said Oscar. In previous year's columns I've tended to avoid discussion of the films competing for Best Picture, mostly because they tend to be dreary, or at the very least they require the use of at least two hankies to get through the movie. Instead I prefer to concentrate on a lighter and usually more fun subject, the Short Film (Animated) category.

This year there are five cartoons vying for the honor of being called best. The first one is a short called I Am the Walrus and is an animated version of an interview a fourteen year old boy had with a member of the Beatles back in 1969. Jerry Levitan managed to sneak into John Lennon's hotel room and came out with a reel to reel tape recording of the interview, which writer/director Josh Raskin has turned into a five minute short featuring pen sketches and digital images. The official website can be found here. (Pink text on a black background? Be still my aching head.)

Madame Tutli-Putli is a 17-minute long film about a timid woman who takes a ride on the night train, or as I like to call it, the nightmare train. We don't know where she's going, or why, or why she's carrying so much junk. We also don't know if what happens to her on the train is real or supernatural or the product of a fevered imagination. Filmed in stop motion, the puppets have a familiar feel, particularly Madame Tutli-Putli, who physically reminded me of the girl from Nightmare Before Christmas, especially the way she moves and her teeny tiny feet. The music in this project deserves special mention, as it's quite beautiful. I managed to find the film in its entirety on this website. If you, like me, find the juxtaposition of the dark natural colors of the film jarring against the hyper-bubblegum pink of the website background, you'll probably want to watch the film in full screen mode.

The third contender is a French film called Même Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven), even though there are no pigeons to be found. Or are there? I suspect the pigeons mentioned in the title are not the kind that you trip over while trying to walk around in the city, but rather victims of con jobs. (Which reminds me, if the con man fleeces the victim, then shouldn't the victim be a sheep? Any agricultural majors out there want to clear this up for me?) But I digress. The basic story here is a priest doing everything he can think of to save an elderly man from paying for his rather extensive list of sins. Don't worry, it's not pedantic or preachy, rather it's quite funny and odd and will likely leave you with a few questions. You can watch the film in its entirety here. Running time – nine minutes.

The next short is called My Love (Moya Lyubov) and is the fourth Academy Award nomination for director Aleksandr Petrov. Can I just tell you that this is the prettiest film I've seen in ages? The medium is oil paint on glass (which must have taken at least a million years) and watching it is like seeing an impressionistic painting come to life. Based on a short story by Ivan Shmelyov and set in the nineteenth-century, the film tells the romantic story of a young man who is torn between two different girls, one a maid and the other a mysterious (and of course beautiful) stranger. You can watch a fragment of the 36 minute long film here, at the Russian animation in letters and figures website. You may be also be able to find it on youtube, complete with English subtitles, but your mileage will vary as copyrighted clips are subject to removal.

The final competitor is an update of an old favorite, Peter and the Wolf, directed by Suzie Templeton. It's the musical story of a little boy who disobeys his grandfather, sneaks out to play with a raggle-taggle band of animals, each with their own little theme songs, and is nearly eaten by a wolf. I believe the message is "Listen to your grandfather, maybe he knows what the heck he's talking about." This particular version has no dialogue, relying entirely on images, music and silence to tell the story. You can see the trailer here, at the official website.

One-Paragraph Review
This week's one-paragraph review is from Gladiators Are Next, who is less than thrilled by a new show running on Fox, saying, "Moment of Truth is the most disgusting show on TV. It's not just demeaning; it appears to have been written by malicious twelve-year-olds. It can't get cancelled soon enough." Have you got a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me and I'll run the most interesting ones. You can reach me at feedback@qualitytimeweekly.com.