A 31/2-hour short-film fest brings Oscar nominees to theaters

San Francisco ChronicleFebruary 27, 2014 

Mr. Hublot tells the story of a man and his robot dog.

COURTESY OF SHORTS INTERNATIONAL

  • MOVIE REVIEW

    'The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014,' live action and animated

    No MPAA rating. Shorts International. 3:40 total.

    When: 2 and 7 p.m. Feb. 28 and March 1; 2 p.m. March 2

    Where: Cinemark Fayette Mall, 3800 Mall Rd.

    Tickets: $10. Available at Cinemark.com.

Even when short films nominated for Academy Awards are accomplished on their own, they can be a strange buffet when bunched together.

The Oscar-nominated live-action and animated short films will be screened this weekend at Cinemark Fayette Mall as part of the Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014 release. (The documentary nominees will not be screened.)

All the films have their soaring moments.

The animated shorts program has two clear standouts, both visually stunning and emotionally satisfying.

Possessions, from Japan, is a haunting conservation parable featuring a traveler who gets caught in a puzzle of a cabin and must escape using skill and kindness. Mr. Hublot, from France, builds a dreary but still dazzling steampunk world, focusing on the relationship between an agoraphobic man and his machine dog.

Watching the other nominees back to back feels a bit jolting. Feral is a cold and surreal fever dream, featuring a boy raised around wolves finding little solace among his own kind. Room on the Broom is a fable suitable for small children, charming but cartoonish. Get a Horse! is the kinetic and well-produced Mickey Mouse update that ran with the outstanding Disney feature Frozen.

The live-action shorts include some strong filmmaking but are less satisfying. The Voorman Program, in which Martin Freeman plays a psychiatrist interviewing a prisoner with a God complex, is an entertaining diversion. The most memorable film is It Wasn't Me, featuring aid workers who run into trouble on a Third World mission and then forge an unexpected alliance. The three other live-action shorts are less memorable — at their worst coming off as a bit contrived.

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