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ShortsHD Presents: The Oscar Winning Short Films Collection(2012)
No synopsis for ShortsHD Presents: The Oscar Winning Short Films Collection.
For more about ShortsHD Presents: The Oscar Winning Short Films Collection and the ShortsHD Presents: The Oscar Winning Short Films Collection Blu-ray release, see ShortsHD Presents: The Oscar Winning Short Films Collection Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on January 30, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Vincent D'Onofrio, Luke Matheny
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ShortsHD Presents: The Oscar Winning Short Films Collection Blu-ray Review
Shorts but sweet.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, January 30, 2013
If you're like most people, you're probably what some might call an "awards show elitist", tuning in (if at all) only to catch the "big" awards like Best Actor and Actress and of course Best Picture. A few more heavily invested folks may be interested in Best Director or Best Screenplay, but unless you have a special background (my own history in the music industry makes me pay particular attention to the music category, for example), the rest of the awards tend to elicit little more than a halfhearted "meh". And of all those "and the rest" (to borrow a phrase from Gilligan's Island) awards that are doled out each year, probably none are paid attention to less than the Short Subjects category. One of the reasons for this is that so few outside of the film industry ever see these pieces, especially the live action ones. Occasionally an animated short will peek through the rabble to capture the public's fancy (two of the Wallace & Gromit outings, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave, as well as Pixar's Geri's Game spring to mind), but generally speaking as soon as the Short Subjects award presenters take the stage every year at the Oscars, electricity consumption goes up and water pressure dips precariously as hordes of audience members check their fridges and use the facilities. It's a sad oversight, really, as this eminently enjoyable compilation proves. While there may not be much "quantity" here—at least in terms of running lengths—there is quality in abundance.
This compendium includes the following Academy Award winning short subjects in both the live action and animated categories:
God of Love Winner: 2010 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action)
Anchored by a peculiar but winning lead performance by writer-director Luke Matheny, God of Love is a bittersweet but frequently laugh out loud funny rumination on the vagaries of romance. Matheny plays lounge singer (and dart thrower) Ray Goodfellow, who has an unrequited crush on Kelly, his band's drummer. Unfortunately Kelly has the hots for the band's guitarist Fozzie, who just happens to be Ray's best friend. A mysterious package of "love darts" arrives one night and Ray begins experimenting with poking people with them, leading to some unforeseen consequences. Evocatively shot with a Red One in black and white, this short boasts the best ever joke to feature Scrabble tiles.
The New Tenants Winner: 2009 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action)
This may have been a case where a little star power—both in front of and behind the camera—helped an otherwise too precious short cop the ultimate prize. The story here is a kind of Kafkaesque look at two people moving into an apartment and being confronted with all sorts of bizarre interactions with their new neighbors. Vincent D'Onofrio has a part and this short was lensed by frequent Roman Polanski collaborator Pawel Edelman.
Toyland Winner: 2008 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action)
This is no throwback to the candy colored world of Victor Herbert, but instead a solemn reflection on the Holocaust and a certain streak of implausible deniability that runs through the German soul (if you've ever visited Germany and asked for directions to any of the concentration camps, you'll know what I mean). Set at the height of World War II, the film deals with neighboring families, one Aryan and one Jewish, whose little boys are best friends. The Jews are about to be deported to a camp and the little German boy wonders where they're going, to which his mother responds "Toyland". What ensues is oddly reminiscent in a way of the feature film The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
West Bank Story Winner: 2006 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action)
This charming if patently odd parody of West Side Story deals not with rival gangs in New York City but rival falafel stand owners, one Israeli and one Palestinian, whose children fall in love. Unabashedly kooky but just as undeniably ebullient, this mini-musical manages to touch on some very weighty matters in an "all singing, all dancing" form that may help the portentous content go down a little more easily than it otherwise might have. Some may question the wisdom of cracking jokes about groups like Hamas, but as a wise man once said, "It's better to laugh than to cry."
The Lost Thing Winner: 2010 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Animated)
This unabashedly peculiar but incredibly enjoyable piece is narrated by its lead character in a deadpan, almost somnambulistic, style that is almost like an Australian version of comedian Steven Wright. A just slightly post- Apocalyptic Melbourne is the setting for this whimsical story of Shaun, an outcast who spends his day collecting discarded bottle caps until he stumbles upon a truly weird looking creature on the beach one day. Clad in what can only be termed an oversized metal boiler, but with both octopus tentacles and crab pincers poking out, this creature becomes an unlikely "pet" for Shaun. Writer-director Shaun Tan adapted his own best-selling children's book and delivers a weird but enjoyable piece that features some really sweet looking computer animation that resembles a combination of one part stop motion and one part 3D wizardry.
Logorama Winner: 2009 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Animated)
For those of you who think corporate branding has gotten completely out of hand, Logorama will either be a dream come true or your worst nightmare. (I've recently gone on record as feeling it's ridiculous when, for example, deleted scenes on a Blu-ray are "presented by American Express"). The recent feature film Branded kind of tiptoed around this same conceit, but with none of the whimsy and humor that this inventive animated feature, which is comprised completely of corporate logos, does.
The Danish Poet Winner: 2006 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Animated)
This is a sweet little feature that looks mightily like the work of cartoonist Charles Barsotti. The content here is almost like an animated analog to the long running sitcom How I Met Your Mother, with a convoluted story involving two lovers whose assignations are continually postponed, but whose eventual connection leads to an interesting, if not entirely unexpected, connection to the narrator (voiced by Liv Ullmann). A slight but awfully sweet meditation on the vagaries of fate and coincidence, The Danish Poet may in fact have nothing too terribly profound to say, but it says it with a lot of wit and style.
Ryan Winner: 2004 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Animated)
If you've ever wondered what an animated film done by a consortium including Hunter S. Thompson, William S. Burroughs and Timothy Leary might look like (and who amongst us hasn't), look no further than the spookily hallucinogenic Ryan. Based on the real life story of Oscar nominated animator Ryan Larkin (1969's Walking), who had a long history of substance abuse, Ryan both literally and figuratively blurs the line between live action "reality" and animated "fantasy". Unusually provocative from a visual standpoint, this is one of the most innovative pieces in this set, more than adequately depicting the roiled inner life of a troubled artist.
Harvie Krumpet Winner: 2003 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Animated)
This is the oldest film in this compilation and the only one to employ clay animation. A rather improbable choice for animated fare, Harvie Krumpet tells the Job-like story of a Jewish refugee who ends up in Australia but whose life is filled with one hideous calamity after another. Nevertheless, Harvie remains eternally optimistic, a sort of Claymation forerunner to Forrest Gump. The film is perhaps a bit too disturbing for its own brand of "accentuating the positive", but there's a salient moral here about being able to control one's reaction to events even if one can't control the events themselves.
ShortsHD Presents: The Oscar Winning Short Films Collection Blu-ray, Video Quality
ShortsHD Presents The Oscar Winning Short Films Collection is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer that in all but two instances is in 1.78:1. (The New Tenants is in 2.40:1 while Harvie Krumpet is in 1.35:1.) As should be expected in a compilation of this type, video quality differs at least somewhat between the various shorts, but overall this is a fantastic looking compilation that offers very clear and sharp imagery and a high definition presentation that remains true to the original source elements. West Bank Story and Harvie Krumpet come off the worst here, at least relatively speaking, with much less sharp transfers that look like they might have been mastered from older videotape sources (there's quite a bit of stairstepping and roll on West Bank Story's title logo, for example). Otherwise, though, the bulk of these shorts looks very nice, with no compression artifacts or other issues to worry about.
ShortsHD Presents: The Oscar Winning Short Films Collection Blu-ray, Audio Quality
ShortsHD Presents The Oscar Winning Short Films Collection features a modest but effective Dolby TrueHD 2.0 track that more than adequately reproduces the generally unambitious sound design of all of these shorts. Several of the shorts utilize a lot of source cues or nice original underscores, and those all sound fine. Dialogue is cleanly and clearly presented and while there's not even much in the way of overt stereo separation, everything here sounds fine if not spectacularly impressive.
ShortsHD Presents: The Oscar Winning Short Films Collection Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
There are no supplements included on this compilation.
ShortsHD Presents: The Oscar Winning Short Films Collection Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
ShortsHD Presents The Oscar Winning Short Films Collection is an absolutely fantastic way to overcome any lingering "awards show elitism". The breadth of content here is a little staggering, and the differing styles also are impressive, to say the least. Every short here may not appeal to everyone, but there should certainly be at least a few in this compilation that touch your individual fancy. This Blu-ray offers excellent video and audio, and comes Highly recommended.
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