For the next few weeks, Harkins Theaters Camelview 5 is hosting an eight-film round of 2014 Oscar Nominated Short films. Each animation ranges from seven to 26 minutes and, like most nominees, falls under the category of either kitschy or controversial.
The non-traditional ceremony of films is hosted by two unwittingly dry hosts portrayed by cartoonish stand-ins: an ostrich and a giraffe both surreptitiously noted by their slip-ups in the fictionalized world.
“Get a Horse,” originally shown with the Disney feature film, “Frozen,” is the most recognizable and perhaps most accessible piece in the bunch. In combing through its notoriously problematic archives, Disney has attempted to offer a 3-D update of Walt’s 1920s cartoons, in which Minnie must once-again be saved from Mickey’s arch-enemy, Peg-Leg Pete. This black-and-white adventure rips through the screen in an over-the-top grasp for sympathetic nostalgia and falls flat, despite winning out over “The Blue Umbrella,” a whimsical short featuring the brief love-story of two inanimate objects in their clumsy attempts to forge a visceral missed-connection.
“Feral,” the most talked about film for this year’s nominees, portrays an American adaptation of Rousseau’s “The Wild Child.” The audience is made to navigate this shifting landscape through the eyes of a boy raised by wolves as he is adopted, primped and forced into the particularly harsh world, shaping rivalries on the playground that parallel a previously seen pack of wolves ravaging the body of an animal.
While “The Missing Scarf,” from the Irish Film Board, comes across as first an oddly inspirational ad for Windows, its sparse animation and bleak narrative highlight carry the weight of the other films. “Missing Scarf” follows the exploits of Albert the Squirrel on his hunt for the eponymous scarf as he encounters other animals of similar loss, most notably Frederick, the existential polar bear whose abrupt homelessness prompts a comically dark speech about the meaning of life.
Other contenders include the U.K.’s childlike rendition of “Room on the Broom,” chronicling the predictably sloppy endeavors of a ginger witch and her ability to forge rousing friendships with talking animals; France’s “A La Francaise,” a goofy and inexplicable farce of 18th century Versailles featuring pomp’d and powdered poultry; “Mr. Hublot” a “Wall-E”-eqsue depiction of a steam-punk future in which an obsessive-compulsive man adopts a robot dog; and “Possessions,” a beautifully crafted cautionary tale hinging on the mantra reduce, reuse and recycle before our wasted objects become both sentient and caustic.
While some of these shorts were lovely and entertaining, others were painfully long, dauntingly familiar or a little forgettable. In essence, some of these films just seem to fall short. Needless to say, it may be in better form to skip the intros this year and see the feature-length films instead.
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