Once again, Key Cinemas on Indianapolis’ Southside offers Hoosiers the chance to see all of the Academy Award-Nominated Live Action Shorts as well as the Academy Award-Nominated Animated Shorts. Both collections reflect a wide mix of styles and tones. Both are well worth your time.
At Night (Denmark, 40 minutes, Danish with subtitles)
Three young female cancer patients spend the holidays together in the hospital, making plans for a celebration all their own. Sound depressing? Well, yeah, but it’s also distinct, interesting and involving. The short is moving without succumbing to sentimentality.
Il Supplente (The Substitute) (Italy, 17 minutes, Italian with subtitles)
Bizarre feature about a classroom full of students forced to deal with the outrageous confrontational antics of a substitute teacher. The behavior of the lead character — he comes off like Roberto Benigni in a cranky mood — is so over the top that it put me off the film at first, but I came around by the end.
Le Mozart Des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets) (France, 31 minutes, French with subtitles)
When most of their pickpocketing gang gets busted, two hapless thieves, trying to figure out what to do next, find themselves saddled with a deaf homeless boy. The title should explain what happens.
Tanghi Argentini (Belgium, 13 minutes, French with subtitles)
A late middle-age office drone approaches one of his coworkers, known for his dancing skills, and asks the prickly man to teach him the Tango for an upcoming first date with a female Internet friend. The results seem predictable, but this sweet little comedy has a surprise up its sleeve.
The Tonto Woman (United Kingdom, 36 minutes, English)
A would-be cattle rustler encounters a woman living in forced isolation by her absent husband after being held prisoner for 11 years by the Mojave Indians. The cinematography is striking in this effective mini-western and the male lead has a righteous authoritarian vibe vaguely reminiscent of Daniel Day-Lewis’ character in There Will Be Blood, only not deranged.
I Met the Walrus (Canada, five minutes, English)
In 1969, 14-year-old Jerry Levitan sneaked into John Lennon’s hotel with his tape recorder and convinced him to do a brief interview. The result is interesting and the animation fits the era nicely.
Madam Tutli-Putli (Canada, 17 minutes, silent)
A mild-mannered woman experiences a harrowing nighttime train ride in this wordless feature that combines Claymation and CGI. Check out the use of light and shadows during the trip. Nice.
Meme Les Pigeons Vont Au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven) (French, nine minutes, French with subtitles)
In this CGI short, a priest tries to sell an old man a Jules Verne-ish machine that will take him to heaven. Whimsical, except for a few scenes that are most certainly not.
My Love (Moya Lyubov) (Russian, 27 minutes, Russian with subtitles)
In 19th century Russia, a teenage boy is torn between two women. This highly romantic feature is gorgeous — the animation looks like paintings come to life and the transitions from scene to scene are quite imaginative. A highlight.
Peter and the Wolf (United Kingdom, 27 minutes, silent)
Prokofiev’s classic musical piece gets animated, as a young boy faces a wolf, along with several animal comrades. The visual style is perfect for the story and the slapstick adventures of the boy and the animals are clever and well-executed. Loved the business with the bird and the helium balloon.