Oscar Nominated Short Films 2017: Animation

I awoke a bit late and watched the chef segment of CBS This Morning.  Douglas Rodriguez’s signature dishes include Vaca Frita skirt steak, Cerviche tasting trio, Thai mixto ceviche, Tuna and avocado salad, Crunchy Cuban vegetable slaw, Chocolate cigar, and Classic mojito.  I looked up the American Top 40 playlist for the weekend.  The Top 10 songs on February 19, 1977 were “Night Moves,” “Lost Without Your Love,” “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Car Wash,” “Enjoy Yourself,” “I Like Dreamin’,” “Love Theme from ‘A Star is Born’ (Evergreen),” “Torn Between Two Lovers,” “New Kid in Town,” and “Blinded by the Light.”  I went over to the theatre to catch the Oscar-nominated animated short films for this year.  The entire program ran only 86 minutes, and three of the films weren’t actually nominated for Oscar, but were there as filler.  The first film was “Borrowed Time.”  It showed a sheriff visiting the scene of an accident.  It was like seeing the Tom Hanks Toy Story character go through tragedy.  One thing I didn’t like about the film was the use of the cliff in the drama, which I thought was an overused concept.  It must be hard to grasp onto a part of a cliff to keep from falling.  You would have to have incredibly strong fingers and also be lucky that your momentum didn’t fling you too far that you could grab anything.  It seems that you’d have to twist around quickly in midair to save yourself, too.  The movie did have strong emotion in it.  The second film was “Pearl,” which was essentially a music video with the inside of a car as the setting and showing a father and daughter age as the years pass.  I thought it was the weakest of the films not because it was bad, but because it didn’t make me feel anything.  I watched it passively.  “Piper” was the short film I saw before “Finding Dory.”  It was about a sandpiper learning how to get food from the beach.  The look of the film was still impressive.  It was slightly annoying that the filmmakers gave the bird too much of a human quality.  This bird learned so quickly that it seemed smarter than half of the students in my math class.  However, I still found this a good, enjoyable film, and one of the two I liked the most.  “Blind Vaysha,” the fourth film, had an interesting concept of a girl who sees the past through one eye and the future through the other.  Like most of the other films, this one had a strong visual concept, but a bit of weakness with the content.  I cringed a bit at the preachy tone of the ending.  We all have to look at ourselves?  There was a pause in the program as the last Oscar nominee was held to the end for three other films.  There was a warning about the strong adult content of the last film.  Meanwhile, “Asteria” didn’t make much of an impression on me.  “The Head Vanishes” had some strange images that made me think back to films like “Sleeper” or “Ex Machina.”  It was decent, but I would say a cut below the first four.  “Once Upon a Line” visits the daily routine of a man and how it changes when he meets a woman.  There were some clever visual ideas, although I thought the film was a bit too much about the concept and didn’t reveal enough.  So after all of that, we got to see the finale, which was “Pear Cider and Cigarettes.”  At 35 minutes of running time, it was an epic compared to the other films, which all ranged from five to nine minutes in length.  I liked the exciting, graphic novel look to the film, and the feeling of mystery.  The narrator is a friend of the semilegendary Techno Stypes, who is near death waiting for a liver transplant in China.  His mission is to get Techno back to Vancouver.  There is a touch of “Apocalypse Now” about this task.  I thought the major flaw of the film was the narration, which was excessive and became monotonous.  I thought that a film was supposed to show a story and not talk about it to death.  No film is flawless, however, and I felt that there was enough in this film to make it one of the two best of the group.  It tried to do more than the other films, and it had ideas and wasn’t an empty container.  I would lean towards voting for “Pear Cider and Cigarettes” for the Oscar.  I walked over to the library and hung out until almost closing time, and then I shopped at Trader Joe’s.  Back at home, I watched episodes of All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and M*A*S*H.  I watched the beginning of the Star Trek episode “Space Seed.”  I wanted to go to the bookstore to buy a book about Francois Truffaut, but there was a power outage, and so customers streamed out of the store just as I arrived.  I retreated back to my apartment and listened to a CD of John Prine before I got sleepy and went to bed.  Some of the people who died on February 20 include Frederick Douglass (1895), Dick York (1992), Gene Siskel (1999), Sandra Dee (2005), John Raitt (2005), Hunter S. Thompson (2005), and Curt Gowdy (2006).  Today is a birthday for Cindy Crawford (51) and Sidney Poitier (90).

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