Movie Review Friday: The Oscar-Nominated Shorts
Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week, we review a film with an environmental theme that’s currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a review of 100 or fewer words and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.
The Oscar-nominated short animated films (plus a few extras) recently toured through theaters. They’re mostly worth a viewing. The Academy Award winner, Kunio Kato's La Maison En Petits Cubes is a gorgeously rendered dive (literally) into a man's past in the water beneath the top floor of his ever-rising house. It could be taken as a very oblique reference to the possibilities of climate change, but what stands out are its light-infused ruminations on memory.
There were also some excellent little comedies like Lavatory-Lovestory and the perfectly understated John and Karen (a British production starring a penguin and a polar bear), plus the madcap romps of This Way Up, Pixar's Presto, and Oktapodi.
What nearly ruined the program for me, however, was the longest piece: Varmints. It's the tale of a rodent-like creature out enjoying a nap under a tree in a field when a city is dragged up, laying the tree and field to waste. The city is grim place of choking skies and mindless stumbling. The main character, having managed to salvage a branch of the tree, keeps up hope and unwittingly releases some magical seeds that grow into huge, glowing, floating jellyfish terrariums which whisk off some of the critters as most of the city’s residents perish in the choking skies.
The film buys into the demonization of cities and urban life perpetrated by romantics. Cities have whole hosts of problems, no doubt, but if we want to sustain those beautiful country fields, cities are the only real way forward. On top of that, there’s the irony that the technologies behind the film were developed in dense urban environments.