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Feb 21, 2013

Quick Takes: The Oscars Nominated Animated Shorts 2013.

1. Adam and Dog

Directed By:

                          Minkyu Lee


                 As you might have guessed from the title of this animated short, it tells the story of Adam and Eve (yes from the first three chapters of Genesis) but its main focus is the dog whose point of view is shown here. The movie begins in the garden of Eden and the dog is shown exploring the beauty of the environment and he encounters many different animals on its way. He once meets Adam who is exploring the garden himself. He gives the dog something to eat and pets him, thus an unlikely friendship is formed between a man and an animal which is something that will go on forever. This short is beautifully done, the hand-drawn animation is just amazing to watch with lots of colors and textures that gives a vivid beauty to a land that is sort of a fantasy to us. There are many landscapes that you will see and in them the correct use of light and dark as well as shades so perfectly done that it indeed looks like the garden of Eden. Adam and Dog is also the longest short of all the nominated ones but that is not the reason why i was underwhelmed by this movie. While i get what its trying to show but the familiar elements followed by a bit too stagnant plot where the story never actually breaks through, those 15 minutes tries to feel like an hour. Its fascinating the tale of why dogs to this day is a man's best friend considering the affection that Adam showed to him and he being the only creature that would do so with a dog. There are some little moments that comes across as nice, when you see both of them playing around the beautiful land or in a scene where Adam speaks in all the different animals voices. We also see Eve after a while, who interrupts this lovely union and friendship that the dog was having with Adam because he is distracted now and wants to be with Eve, this wonderful looking red-haired creature. Adam and Dog isn't a bad short at all but its highly unlikely that you will feel anything for it except for the visuals that will leave you dazzled for sure.

Grade: C+

2. Fresh Guacamole

Directed By:



                 Okay so how do you rate and review a 2 minutes short that lacks any actual narration? You just concentrate on what its trying to show right? Fresh Guacamole is more of a visual gag and something that is downright weird but very interesting considering the fresh idea it is based on. Fresh Guacamole is done in a stop motion style and in it, you will see a man making guacamole out of very obscure and everyday objects such as baseball, tomato pin cushion, light bulbs and other stuff. Many things are used into making this dish via slicing or dicing that turns them into different objects that are then added in the guacamole. This is a very visually imaginative short with an interesting premise that you will enjoy for sure. Its running time is pretty much all you might need to make the actual dish so its understandable why its just under 2 minutes. I don't think its trying to say anything or there is some hidden symbolism in the chopping up of those things into all these poker and monopoly themed items but the director is just trying to be playful with his imagination and to entertain us in the best way possible with the time that he has. An interesting movie.

Grade: B

3. Head Over Heels

Directed By:

                          Timothy Reckart.


                 Now Head Over Heels is my most favorite among the nominated shorts this year. It is both visually stunning, creative in both its visual and storytelling aspects, its moving, touching and interesting as well as technically brilliant. This stop motion animated short tells us the story of a married couple, Walter and Madge. Over the years, they have grown significantly apart both physically and emotionally to a point that they started living parallel lives. In a sense that he lives on the floor while she lives on the ceiling. You heard it right. Its that kind of a fresh and innovative plot that sets it apart from anything else this year with a very moving story. The husband and wife rarely talks, they share a few things together but never even looks at each other. Their fights consists of either breaking things by throwing them in the opposite gravitational fields as well as fighting over the placement of pictures and other small things. One day, when the husband tries to bring back the spark they once had by gifting her a pair of shoes, things starts crumbling down on both of them. An interesting thing is that they can't be in the same place at a time. One of them is bound to feel the gravity and get affected by it if they enter the other person's zone. So how are they going to find a way to make things the way they were before?

                 Like other nominated shorts, this one too lacks any dialogue but the animation is so brilliantly done that it gives tons of insight in those few minutes on their past, their feelings (deep or superficial) as well as the grounds they are standing on psychologically. This project is done by the students of London’s National Film and Television University, for amateur filmmakers to show such insight and creativity is just amazing. I love the visuals of this movie, the way they have designed the interiors of the house and the small details they got so right. There is however something wrong with the way the faces of these characters have been done, or was it intentional? There is some humor in the form of the situational comedy and then there is the remarkable sense of isolation that you feel from their situation. The maturity is astounding in every way. A brilliant short film that i think is the best of these and should win the Oscar.

Grade: A-

4. Paperman

Directed By:

                          John Kahrs.


                 My second favorite short movie is from non other than the well know Disney studios. It offers a perfect and stunning blend of the traditional animation with computer generated imagery in a way that they both complement each other. They have done this using a new software than has allowed them to get the best of both world and provide us with high quality visual experience with the poignant sentiments of Disney via their control on the story aspects as well. I predict it to win the Oscar as well and its the most famous short of the year for sure. Paperman was played before Wreck-It Ralph, the Disney feature length animation that might win an Oscar too. The story follows a young working man who meets a beautiful woman under unusual circumstances. Both of them are waiting for the train when the wind gusts from each of the passing trains dislodges the papers from their files and they chase after it to find each other. Then while the man arrives at his work, he is less interested in anything else then to find that woman. One of his papers has a mark of a lipstick because it was blown by wind on the face of the woman. He spots her in a building across the street and after many failed attempts to get her attention, he decides to make those paper planes and throw it towards that building in a hope that one of them would land right through the window. When that doesn't works too, he decides to chase after her and those many paper planes that he made, somehow comes to life and they starts swaying and flying and of course you know how it will end.

                  Well that part if you know is inspired by a classic 50's French short "The Red Balloon" if you will but that doesn't hurt its credibility to me. This short is one of the best things that Disney have done in a while. The story is very mature and its handled very good. Its effective, sweet, romantic and brilliant. It has a wonderful score and a lovely sense of reality and fantasy that plays very well together into making this love story quite resonating with all its simplicity and visual clarity. Amazing.

Grade: B+

5. The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare

Directed By:

                          David Silverman.


                 Well i am a fan of The Simpsons, not a great one but i once definitely was. I don't think the show has held up its premise over the last few years where its quality has significantly declined over its need to be more hip and trashy (in terms of its jokes) just like Family Guy or something. Now this short will show you exactly how they could make the show with its stories and effective plot, better than ever. The writers and staff should definitely take a note. The Longest Daycare focuses on the youngest member of the Simpsons family, Maggie. It begins with Marge dropping Maggie off at the Ayn Rand Daycare. After a few tests there, she is deemed as an average brain child and is left off in a dirty and lonely portion of the center along with a few other children who are considered to be not gifted. The movie than follows Maggie's struggle to stop her nemesis, Baby Gerald from killing the butterflies. He is shown squashing them on the wall with a mallet and when Maggie comes across a Caterpillar, she takes it as her responsibility to safely put her on a plant where she'll grow into a Butterfly and maybe that can lead her to her own freedom as well (interesting). This short was apparently played before the animated movie Ice Age: Continental Drift in theaters, for most of the audience i suppose the short was better than the movie.

                The Longest Daycare is a very good natured, less silly and with more sweet and surprisingly moving story. This is something i rarely see in the show itself these days and to get a glimpse of what the show could be from this short is just amazing. Some would probably argue that its a bit low on the usual gags but that is the point. The story itself is really poignant, touching and offers a story of hope in the bleakest of environment. Its interesting to see the youngest member of the family and her point of view as the way she sees the world and its hypocrisies. Yes you can see a bit of the current socio-political situations here that somehow underlines the story, or its just that we have seen so much of that in the show that you can't help but feel like this is one of those political statements gags as well. The animation is beautifully done, the exact way the show is. There is a good pace to the story that doesn't feel boring or uninteresting while its executed quite good. Its also without any dialogue so for a show that relies too much on the verbal jokes its surprisingly well executed which more than what i was expecting. Its still has nice humor and some sentiments that will really move you specially in the end.

Grade: B-