Fabrice O. Joubert’s “French Roast” (France, 8m) satirizes café life in Paris with the story of a businessman’s lost wallet and a second cup of coffee. Joubert’s beautifully dimensional CG animated world suggests the live-action work of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, but the timing and crisply comic sound design bear worthy comparison to Tati. Nicky Phelan’s “Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty” (Ireland, 6m) finds a disoriented grandmother making “Sleeping Beauty” into nightmare material for her granddaughter. Lovingly paced with the comedy enhanced by the rolling Irish accents. Javier Recio Gracia’s “The Lady and The Reaper” (Spain, 8m) follows another nice old woman, this one awaiting the Grim Reaper with complications to come late one night. The use of space and light suggests the dourness of Shane Acker’s “9” but bursts into speed and color and gaudy 3-D animation as the story kicks in. Nick Park’s latest Wallace & Gromit, “A Matter of Loaf and Death” (30m, UK) returns to the handmade style that Park’s fans remember best. The dashing duo have opening a successful bakery, “Top Bun,” at 62 West Wallaby Street, but the murders of other bakers leads to a murder mystery. The clockwork comic inspiration is largely inspired. The shocker of the batch is the Sundance-shown “Logorama,” by Francois Alaux, Hervé de Crécy and Ludovic Houplain (France, 16m), in which a modern seaside city is portrayed as a terrifying terrain of corporate logos, the bastard dreamchild of Naomi Klein (“No Logo”), Kalle Lasn (“Adbusters”) and Bruce McCall, whose pastel apocrypha-worlds grace the pages and covers of the New Yorker (and the 1970s-1980s National Lampoon). (Their brightly lit capture of contemporary L.A. side streets is exemplary.) What’s the last Oscar-nominated movie that depicted Bob’s Big Boy as a little Beavis saying, “This guy sucks hairy balls”? The tiny AIM man skitters through crosswalks, an Esso mascot puffs away, the Ghostbusters logo is a no-crossing sign. Ronald McDonald is depicted as a violent criminal pursued by profane policemen, Michelin men in patrol cars. “Hellooo, hostage! Back off, you sonsofbitches!” “Logorama” is jaw-dropping, foul-mouthed genius, a test of the “fair use” copyright exemption at its finest, and a thousand lawsuits waiting to happen. I know who I’m rooting for Oscar night. Program also includes Pixar’s “Partly Cloudy” (US), Poland’s “The Kinematograph” and Canada’s “Runaway.” (Ray Pride)
“Oscar Nominated Short Films: Animation” opens Friday at Landmark Century.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.