Movie Review: Oscar Shorts & More 2013

Mar 15, 2013

It’s time once again to give you the chance to catch up with all the Oscar Nominated Shorts from this past year, both live action and animated. Cincinnati World Cinema is, for the twelfth year, bringing you this eclectic and entertaining compilation of all the nominees. Unlike other showings in the country, CWC also has the good sense to mix them up in two separate programs containing some of the live action, some of the animateds, and some of the bonus shorts. That makes for an all-around more enjoyable viewing experience.

The live-action shorts all run between twenty and thirty minutes each, and deal with serious subject matter. The winner was Curfew, in which a young man in interrupted mid-suicide by a frantic phone call from his estranged sister pleading for him to come baby sit her daughter, his niece, during a period of personal crisis. He complies, and it becomes a journey of discovery between the man and the young girl. My pick, however, would have been Henry, a French Canadian film dealing with the loneliness of dementia in the aging population. It’s beautifully acted, with breathtaking cinematography, and the music of Mascagni’s intermezzo from “Cavaleria Rusticana” adding terrific touches. The other nominated films include Asad, set in a war-torn fishing village in Somalia; Buzashi Boys, a look at contemporary Afghanistan, and their national sport of Buzkashi; and Death of a Shadow, a hard-edged fantasy from Belgium.

Over on the animated side, the winner was the one that was actually, in my opinion, the best of the batch. It’s The Paperman, from the Disney studios, in which a young man narrowly misses meeting the girl of his dreams on a train station platform, and spends the rest of the film trying to reconnect with her. It’s done in a low-key style in black-and-white, and manages to capture some of the heart and charm of Pixar’s feature film UP. In addition, the logo for Disney Animation includes a short clip of Mickey Mouse’s first film appearance as the whistling Steamboat Willie from 1928. For me, a close second was the whimsical Fresh Guacamole. It’s an imaginative and colorful film about the making of an unusual batch of guacamole. At just under two minutes, it’s the shortest short film in the batch, but don’t take your eyes off the screen or you might miss something. Also in the animated category is Adam and Dog, supposing what life might be like if the Garden of Eden were a man and a dog. Its strong suit is being hand drawn instead of computer generated. On the minus side, at sixteen minutes it drags a little. In Head Over Heels, a man and wife have grown so apart she lives on the ceiling, he lives on the floor. When they attempt to put things back together, they can’t agree on which way is up. And from Fox studios is Maggie Simpson: The Longest Daycare, which has its funny and touching moments, but is pretty much a one-scene outtake from a Simpsons episode. 

Cincinnati World Cinema presents both programs this coming weekend at Covington’s Carnegie Arts Center. Program A shows Saturday, March 23rd, at 4 pm, and repeats on Sunday, March 24th, at 7 pm. Program B is on Saturday at 7, and Sunday at 4. That way you have the option of doing both programs in one day, or split ‘em up into two showings.