austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Someone's rocking my dream boat

As mentioned bunny_hugger and I saw a slate of the Oscar-nominated animated short subjects, so, let me review them:

French Roast. A man in a cafe discovers he's not got his wallet, so he orders more coffees while hoping that something will turn up, such as the nun with the satchel of money who sits next to him and leaves the bag unattended for long stretches. I felt like this was a fine setup for a short, but it wasn't quite developed enough as a story. The nun is not quite what she appears, as might be expected; there's also a beggar who wanders in and out of the cafe who ends up resolving the man's problem because if he wasn't going to do that why else would he be established? But apart from that Law of Economy of Characters motivation I'm left without an understanding of why the beggar should choose to help the man in the circumstances he did.

The Lady And The Reaper. The Grim Reaper prepares to take an elderly woman to the afterlife; but, a snobbish surgeon is doing his best to keep her alive. This was the most visually interesting, as the battle between the two quickly becomes a metaphorical endless-chase, zany-doorway sort of back-and-forth struggle. I think at the bulk of the conflict it ends up moving too fast, strangely enough, with much of the back-and-forth so rapid it barely has time to register. Since the audience has seen this sort of zany-doorway battle before it's understandable, but I'd like the short to better stand on its own without that background. The short starts out looking like it'd be the mawkish, sentimentally sloppy sort of thing so its transformation into fast-paced physical comedy is a pleasant surprise. There's also a grand Cerberus who puts in an appearance.

Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty. Granny O'Grimm starts reading the tale of Sleeping Beauty to a terrified kid; he's terrified as she keeps going off onto digressions where the Wicked Witch mutters over the various slights and insults she's received regarding the party celebrating Sleeping Beauty's birth. And the story crashes with the Wicked Witch casting a particular curse and the kid being left good reason not to sleep. From the description of the granny losing the plot I figured on a confused mash-up of fairy tale tropes, rather than pretty much the first scene of Sleeping Beauty turning into half-narrative, half-granny-rambling-about-her-life. That so little of the fairy tale was used left me feeling the short had only just started by the time it finished.

A Matter Of Loaf And Death. Wallace and Gromit and so the clear crowd favorite, and I'd say mine too, since there was such a strong emotional connection there. But I think it had an unfair advantage over the other one-reel shorts since it had the time to have more dramatic, more comic, and more sentimental moments; and the familiarity with Wallace and Gromit as characters gave it a natural advantage too. The story was satisfyingly complete and well-balanced, although it didn't feel so innovative or world-expanding. Of course, it was entertaining, and it's not like I'm unhappy at Another Half-Hour With Wallace And Gromit; I just somehow don't feel like it's fair putting it up against the really short subjects.

Logorama. This is a two-reeler in which a school field trip and a restaurant robbery collide while a natural disaster develops. The visual twist here is that pretty much everything in it is the logo of some corporation or other: the hostage-taking robber is Ronald McDonald; his hostage/school boy is (Bob's) Big Boy; butterflies are Microsoft Windows logos; box stores are literally the logos of K-Mart or Best Buy or whatnot dropped down on the street. The visual styling was interesting and the appearance of particular icons occasionally amusing or clever, but the overall effect, and the extremely arbitrary nature of the plot, left me feeling like the producers were standing to my side, nudging me in the shoulder, and saying, ``See? See? This is something REALLY IMPORTANT about how all these commercial logos are ALL OVER society! See? Get it? GET IT?'' Well, I get that they want to say something about that, although since what's on screen is mostly that there's logos everywhere and they often look like everyday things, the point I derived from it is the producers figured they were being deep when they were actually being visually clever.

The program also included several shorts not nominated, but included (I suppose) to pad things out to an hour and a half. I may go into them if I think of it.

Trivia: Two Mister Magoo cartoons --- When Magoo Flew (1954) and Magoo's Puddle Jumper (1956) --- won Academy Awards. Source: Of Mice And Magic: A History Of American Animated Cartoons, Leonard Maltin.

Currently Reading: The Year's Best Science Fiction: Third Annual Collection (1985), Editor Gardner Dozois.

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