Archive for February 24th, 2017

Every year I try to see both the Oscar-nominated animated shorts and their live-action counterparts. The documentaries, alas, don’t seem to make it into this neck of the woods.

This year’s roster:

Borrowed Time -a weathered Sheriff in the Old West returns to the remains of a terrible accident. It was done by a couple Pixar folks, so it is of high quality. I had seen this before online, and while it’s evocative of a mood, it didn’t quite satisfy.

Pearl – a father/daughter relationship from the point of view of the family car, and especially the music played therein. It is my wife’s favorite piece, and we saw it in a conventional theater. Watch it here or here or here.

Blind Vaysha – based, i think, on an old folk tale about a girl with cursed eyesight. One eye sees visions of the past, while the other peers into the future. It’s done in the style of German expressionist woodcuts. This was possibly my favorite. If you’re in Canada, you can see it here.

Piper – this is the Pixar piece, which I saw before Finding Dory. It had a photorealistic look of a newborn bird trying to find food on his own. I actually liked it more in the rewatching. See it here.

Then there was the warning about the final piece that contains sex and violence and language and that you might want to get the kiddies out of the room. I saw a movie a couple years back like that; it was quite terrible.

But before that, a few of the also-rans:

Asteria – wo astronauts make an unexpected discovery on a barren planet. A silly, yet quite pointed observation about the human condition.

The Head Vanishes – a woman is determined to make her annual train trip to the seaside when she quite literally loses her head. this about dementia, of course, which my late mother experienced in her later years. This too you may be able to see in Canada.

Once Upon a Line – a dialogue-free film using a clever pen-and-ink style continual illustrations in which a humdrum guy’s life gets upended by romance. It should have been in the final five in lieu of Borrowed Time.

Pear Cider and Cigarettes – “the aforementioned naughty film, which at 35 minutes is also four times the length of any other nominee. Apparently drawn directly from writer/director Robert Valley’s life, it tells of his friendship with a hard-living character named Techno, who winds up stuck in a Chinese hospital awaiting a liver transplant. Covering decades of up-and-down friendship in a hard-boiled but persuasive style, the pic pairs gravelly voiceover with luridly colored frames recalling some indie comic books. Though very tied to the specifics of Valley’s larger-than-life subject, the bittersweet featurette depicts a sort of character many older viewers will recognize: the kid who could be in charge and out of control simultaneously, who did what others feared until life caught up with him.” My wife and I really related to thie Techno character; we’ve both known that guy with a lot of potential who frittered it away.

It occurred to me that most of these films are about memory, in one form or another. All the nominated films, plus, of course, The Head Vanishes, fit into the category. A worthwhile visit to the Spectrum Theatre.

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