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Oscar Shorts

Posted by: Matthew Turner 20/02/2009 @ 17:05
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 45
Films seen last week: Good, The Girl Cut In Two, Little Ashes

Oscar Shorts
Last week, I went to a preview screening of the Oscar shorts, that is, the Oscar nominated short films and the Oscar nominated animated shorts, which you can catch on limited theatrical release at cinemas around the country from this weekend (the full schedule for the Oscar shorts is available at www.shortsinternational.com). The live action shorts are, for the most part, rather sentimental, particularly the decidedly dull Manon on the Asphalt, about a girl whose life flashes before her eyes after an accident. The other films included: Danish short The Pig (about an old man in hospital, who becomes attached to a painting of a pig in his hospital room); Irish short The New Boy (based on a Roddy Doyle short story, about an African immigrant boy's first day at a new school); probable winner (according to the Holocaust rule) Toyland, about a German boy in 1942 who attempts to follow his Jewish neighbours when he's told they're being taken away to "Toyland"; and my favourite of the films, a 30 minute German / Swiss short called On The Line, about an infatuated department store security guard's secret obsession with a bookstore clerk he sees on CCTV every day. (I can easily see On The Line being turned into a full length feature).

The animated Oscar shorts programme (which includes five other "Highly Commended" shorts alongside the Oscar-nominated ones) includes: Pixar's brilliant Presto (the probable winner – never bet against Pixar), which screened with WALL-E, an amusing Russian short about a lavatory attendant with a secret admirer (Lavatory Lovestory), a rather depressing Japanese short about an old man battling to save his house against a rising tide by building it ever higher (La Maison en Petits Cubes); a bizarre British short about two undertakers with an out-of-control coffin (This Way Up) and, my favourite of the lot (Presto aside), a very funny French short called Oktapodi, about an octopus staging a frantic rescue attempt through the streets of a Greek village when his significant other is taken away to be turned into seafood.

Films I'm Looking Forward To: Pixar's Up
A new Pixar movie is always something to look forward to (unless it's Cars – don't get me started on Cars) and Up is no exception, not least because like almost every other upcoming animated feature, it will be screening in 3D. The story looks deceptively simple (an old man ties balloons to his house and flies away, only to discover he's got a stowaway), but spoiler-filled buzz from a recent 45 minute footage screening suggests there's a lot more to it, as hinted at by this clip here. As always, it looks fabulous and Ed Asner is great casting for Carl Fredricksen. I'm officially excited, although it doesn't actually open here until... um... October 16th.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Only three changes this week, with the superb rockumentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil, Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino and bizarre manga-based adventure 20th Century Boys all making it into the top ten, albeit at different ends. Of this week's new releases, I also really liked Cadillac Records and Che Part Two (especially if you've seen Che Part One, though it does stand alone), though the less said about Push and Confessions of a Shopaholic, the better.

1. Anvil! The Story of Anvil
2. Slumdog Millionaire
3. Revolutionary Road
4. The Wrestler
5. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
6. Milk
7. Frost/Nixon
8. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
9. Gran Torino
10. 20th Century Boys

DVD of the Week: I've Loved You So Long (out now, RRP £19.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is director Philippe Claudel's powerfully emotional drama I've Loved You So Long, starring Kristin Scott Thomas as an ex-doctor attempting to reconnect with her family after serving a 15-year jail sentence. If you missed it at the cinema (despite the fact that its lengthy second run has only just ended), this is an excellent chance to catch up with one of the best films of last year – it deservedly won the BAFTA for Best Foreign Film last week, though it was criminally snubbed at the Oscars, as was Kristin Scott Thomas. Both KST and co-star Elsa Zylberstein give terrific performances and the film is worth seeing for Scott Thomas' masterclass in the dying art of emotionally charged onscreen smoking alone. The extras package isn't bad either and includes an hour-long interview with the director, plus seven decent deleted scenes, with optional commentary. Highly recommended.

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