It’s almost Oscar time again, and although it can seem like nothing more than a Hollywood showcase, look closer, and the Academy Award nominees can provide us with some good suggestions for entertaining viewing. I know that I particularly like to scan the short film lists, and this year sees two Irish shorts take their place in both the Live Action Short and the Animated Short film categories. Juanita Wilson’s The Door is a live action short, which tells the tragic story of one family and the how they were affected by the Chernobyl disaster. A world away from that is Granny O’ Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty, (grannyogrimm.com) whose twisting of a favourite fairytale may not be an original concept, but whose charm and humour have won over many fans. Granny O’ Grimm, and indeed several of the other animated shorts up for Oscars can be viewed on youtube, and are well worth a look.
All is not what it seems in French Roast, a comical piece set in a little French café. This short is a study of how money shapes our lives and personalities. Watch it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbFhATUfuow The Lady and the Reaper is a Spanish animation and looks at humankind’s urge to fight the reaper, even though it may not be for the best. As with many of the short animations, The Lady and the Reaper has a Pixar-ish quality to it, but it also incorporates some whacky slapstick reminiscent of old Warner Bros. cartoons. Watch it at:
Logorama (http://www.logorama-themovie.com/) and Wallace and Gromit’s A Matter of Loaf and Death make up the five nominees. Logorama is a colourful piece fashioned from the hundreds of popular logos that we see everyday be it a McDonald’s sign or a Pringles advert. It’s flat landscapes IS similar to those of some computer games, a media closely linked to animation, and one providing dramas and stories as powerful as many of today’s movies. The latest Playstation release, Heavy Rain, is causing quite a stir, as it offers players so many choices, and so many potential outcomes, that it serves as far more than a straightforward video game. Players become part of the narrative, influencing what will happen next, or if it will take place at all.
This breakdown of the traditional narrative way of storytelling is expected to filter into film more and more in the future, and if it does, surely animation could be the genre to take it on. How one could allow an audience multiple endings is questionable, but animation has already proven to be a fantastic medium for storytelling, with it’s array of possibilities for demonstrating a character’s emotions or experiences. It can take on the classic fairytale, or a good old morality tale about money, greed and death, and turn it upside down completely, providing us with fresh narratives that we never expected.
Speaking of extraordinary narrative structures, March is the month for Cork’s French Film Festival, and this year there are four screenings dedicated to the New Wave. Do catch Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (A Bout de Souffle) if you can, one of the iconic examples of modernism in cinema. Also in the programme are Jules et Jim, 400 Blows, and Pierrot Le Fou.
For more on Heavy Rain and the future of narrative structures, be it in film, games or theatre, Stephen Armstrong’s recent article in The Sunday Times is worth a read: http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/gadgets_and_gaming/article7039682.ece
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