Ian Berke, realtor and real estate in San Francisco
Ian's Listings
SF listings
About SF
About Ian
Ian's List
Film Reviews
Stone Books
Legal & Privacy

tel 415.921.7300
cell 415.860.2777

DRE #444020

Film Review

2012 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action and Animated

For the past few years, Landmark Theaters has been showing the Oscar nominations for live action and animated short films. This year, five live action and five animated plus four "bonus" films. Mostly ignored in Oscar coverage, a short film is defined as less than 30 minutes. Most of the animated films are under 10 minutes, and all but one live action film are under 15 minutes. These films will never have commercial distribution, so this is a wonderful opportunity to see some truly inspired filmmaking. Making a short film is at least as difficult as a standard length film because the director has to develop the characters and tell the story, all in a very short time. They are the cinematic equivalent of short stories, yet many have a power and an impact that must be experienced.

This year the animated films seem more accomplished than the live action films. The first animated, "Sunday" (Canada), is a charming, whimsical work drawn in a minimal, severe style, set in a tiny village next to a major railroad track. A little boy goes with his parents to visit his grandparents, who in turn throw a party. The second animated, "A Morning Stroll" (UK), is a wonderfully quirky look at a chicken returning home in New York City after a morning stroll. But the chicken is observed by others, in 1959, 2009, and 2059.

The third, "Wild Life" (Canada), is a cleverly illustrated but melancholy story of a young Englishman who seeks his fortune on the Canadian frontier in Alberta at the turn of the century. But he is totally unprepared for life on the prairie. It is documentary in style with a sweet poignancy. The fourth, "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" (US) is a real powerhouse of a film. A man reading his book on his porch is swept away by a tornado, and ends up in a sort of Oz, where he sees a goddess of reading drawn through the sky by her flock of flying books. He soon meets more books who are animated, in every sense of the word. This is a very creative, unexpectedly moving film about the power of reading. For me, this film stood out as the best of all of the shorts, and alone worth the price. The fifth, "La Luna" (US), shows us a young boy who is being rowed out to sea at night by his father and grandfather. The moon rises, they anchor, and extend a ladder up to the moon. And find it covered with golden stars. "La Luna" is a very creative, charming film. The four bonus films, all animated, are very short (4-5 minutes), varied, and all whimsical, charming, and clever.

The five live action shorts are longer than the animated shorts, running 10 to 25 minutes each. "Pentecost" (Ireland) is a very short (11 minutes) comedy about a reluctant altar boy who loves soccer. "Raju" (Germany & India) looks at a young German couple who come to India to adopt a little boy. After experiencing the shock of seeing India for the first time, they meet their new son. They are very happy but then things become much more dramatic and frightening. "The Shore" (Northern Ireland) is a soulful story of a man who left Ireland for San Francisco 25 years ago, and the friends he left behind. Ciaran Hinds plays the father, who returns to his village with his grown daughter, but cannot bring himself to tell her the full story of his departure. It is a very fine, accomplished film barely 30 minutes long. "Time Freak" (US) is a quirky comedy about a geeky guy who invents a time machine. Cute, but the weakest of the live action films. Finally, "Tuba Atlantic" (Norway), is the story a a dour old man, Oskar, who is told by his doctor that he has only a week to live, and is determined to make the most of it. Then, a cute young woman knocks on his door, and informs him that she is his angel of death, but is still in training. Her two previous cases survived. Humorous, but with a poignant tone, that makes for an ultimately moving film.

I loved nearly all of these films, some with compelling stories and fine acting, and others wonderfully inventive. Collectively, there is so much talent and imagination here. The cinematography is outstanding in all of them, even the animated films. The quality of the music soundtracks surprised me, with some terrific music. Both programs are short, about 100 minutes total for the live action films and only 79 minutes for all of the animated films. This year, I felt that the animateds were stronger than last year, and the live actions somewhat weaker than last year, but still very worth seeing. Both sets opened at the Lumiere and Opera Plaza theaters Friday, and will probably end in a week at the Lumiere, but continue for an additional week at Opera Plaza. Also playing at the Rafael in Marin. Seeing both programs was a wonderful experience.

Return to the List of Film Reviews

Home | Ian's Listings | SF listings | Rentals | Architecture | About SF | About Ian |
Ian's List | Legal & Privacy | ian@ianberke.com | © 2009- ianberke.com