In Wild Life, a clueless Englishman who’s traveled to the Canadian frontier in 1909 writes fictional letters home about his lfie as a cowboy.
Since 2005, the Oscar® Nominated Short Films for Live Action and Animation have been distributed to select North American theaters prior to the Academy Awards, which included the University of Iowa’s Bijou Theater as one of three theaters in Iowa. They are also now available on iTunes. The ten films from around the world are clever, entertaining, and—true to their word—short, ranging from 5 to 30 minutes. And each delivers a satisfying story.
In the Animation category, all five films offer interesting animation techniques.
Dimanche/Sunday (Canada) uses charmingly simple line drawings for a humorous take on a young boy’s dull, routine Sunday. His parents take him on their weekly drive to Grandma’s from their small village near the train tracks.
A Morning Stroll(UK) demonstrates the 100-year evolution of an urban chicken’s daily walk. Yes, a chicken. It’s crazy fun with a good close.
Expect the unexpected with La Luna (USA). We witness a young boy’s first adventure joining his dad and grandpa as they go to work at night in a rowboat to wait for the full moon to rise. Don’t even try to guess their occupation. La Luna scores high for imagination and dazzling visuals.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (USA) has been noted for its old-style animation techniques, and some predict it will win. The visuals are wonderful but for my money, it’s an overly long and cryptic tale about flying books that lose their charm long before the film ends.
In Wild Life (Canada), a British man moves to the Canadian frontier in the early 1900s, expecting to live like a cowboy on a ranch. Instead he lives in isolation in a primitive shack, while writing glorious letters home about his conquests. The fine British narrative juxtaposes the two cultures that don’t seem to meld. The recurring references to comets are more of a distraction than an embellishment. Wild Life is a funny story that needs a little reworking.
Here are highlights from the five live-action shorts.
Pentacost (Ireland) is the hilarious account of a parish that coaches their altar boys like a sports team. One young altar boy who has been on probation takes his coaching seriously and offers the clergy a field goal.
Raju (Germany/India) is the poignant account of a German couple who adopt an orphan boy in India. But their joy gets dashed when Raju disappears. The drama bends, twists, and amplifies, steering us onto the high road with a piercing tale you’ll remember.
With a mix of comedy and apprehension, The Shore (Northern Ireland) visits the reunion and reconciliation of two lifelong friends after a 25-year separation. There are some rich moments, good twists, and a cast of likeable people.
With a grand nod to Groundhog Day, Time Freak (USA) offers a snappy comedy about a time-machine enthusiast who keeps reliving yesterday. This guy may not be Bill Murray but you’ll laugh out loud.
When a Norwegian man named Oskar has only a few days to live and tries to locate his brother in America before he dies, what are the chances of Tuba Atlantic being funny? It is. The title refers to a gigantic horn that Oskar and his brother invented, and its loud function puts a strong finish on a hilarious and original dark comedy.
See movie reviews for all films reviewed in The Iowa Source.