Oscar-nominated animated shorts mixed
In “Possessions,” one of five very fine entries in “The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014: Animated,” the ghost spirit of a broken old umbrella springs to life, causing a night of splendid havoc for a weary Japanese traveler. A gorgeously realized homage to the concept of “Tsukumogami” — that after 100 years, tools and instruments attain souls and self-awareness — Shuhei Morita's 'toon works as a metaphor for the process of animation itself: Whether the artist is using pencil and paper, or spacewarp software, the inanimate is transformed into something alive and vital. Imagination takes flight.
‘Room on the Broom'
Flight is the idea behind “Room on the Broom,” another of this year's Academy Award nominees. Adapted from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's children's book, this British-German featurette, narrated in whimsical rhyme by Simon Pegg, is about a witch, her cat, and her broomstick — which acquires a new passenger after each of a number of mishaps. By the end, the soaring sorceress is joined by a veritable Airbus-load of companions — a dog, a frog, a bird — all of them pursued by a lumbering, fire-breathing dragon. The CG animation has a bright, picture-book quality, and the voice talent reads like the cast of a promising parallel-universe film: In addition to Pegg, there are this year's supporting-actress nominee Sally Hawkins, plus Gillian Anderson, Rob Brydon and Timothy Spall.
Also adapted from, or inspired by, an outside source, “Mr. Hublot” is a steampunk fantasy that brings Belgian artist Stéphane Halleux's mechanical sculptures into a sublime 3-D animation realm. The titular star of Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares' 12-minute gem is an accountant whose orderly world is upended by a stray, doglike robot. The characters are stitched and soldered from gears and dials, clockwork mechanisms, metal and leather, and the cityscape has a retro-futuristic Industrial Revolution charm.
“Feral,” from the Rhode Island School of Design's Daniel Sousa, reimagines the “wild child” story of Francois Truffaut's 1970 film, making it something more primal and fierce. The pencil animation casts a noir-ish sheen over this wordless tableau, in which a boy, living among wolves in the woods, is discovered by a hunter and brought to the city to live. The customs and crowds do not sit well with this edgy urchin.
‘Get a Horse!'
Linking past with present, tradition with new tech, and starring that iconic squeaky-voiced rodent Mickey Mouse, the Disney short “Get a Horse!” takes the conceit of Woody Allen's “Purple Rose of Cairo” — that characters from films can step off the screen into the theater and vice versa — and has a slam-bang romp doing so.
Joining Mickey in the fourth-wall fray, which toggles from ink-and-paint black-and-white to vivid CG hues, are assorted vintage Disney figures: Minnie Mouse, Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar, and Peg-Leg Pete as the road-hogging lug trying to get Minnie in his greasy mitts.
Steven Rea is a movie critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Swank prefers characters who don’t care about their wrinkles
- Reese Witherspoon: How a scandal saved her career
- Tis the season: Holiday home video gift guide
- DVD reviews: ‘This is Where I Leave You,’ ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and ‘The Skeleton Twins’
- ‘Hobbit’ tinkering is in a good cause, film creators say
- ‘Foxcatcher’ filmmaker Miller drawn to odd story
- Oakmont’s Oaks Theater owner projects updates will expand presence, use