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Chuck Jaffee: The Short Road to the Oscars

Travel a back road of the Academy Awards brouhaha. At the Nevada Theatre Sunday, check out the five animated short films nominated for the 82nd Academy Awards. Along with three other shorts, expect them to entertain you well with their playful plying at cinematic artistry.

“The Lady and the Reaper” (my pick to win) begins with a sweet old lady. She’s dying. The grunting heroics of a handsome surgeon foils the grim reaper. A screwball battle between death and doctoring ensues. It fully realizes a fresh turn at the tradition of animated amusement.

“French Roast” also lays out a tried and true comedy in a wholly satisfying way. In a cafe, a self-absorbed businessman brushes away a beggar. When the businessman realizes he has no money — no way to pay his tab — a low-key interplay between the embarrassed patron, the waiter, a policeman, a nun, and the beggar unfolds.



“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty” twists a bedtime story into comic horror.

Grandma steams with thinly veiled venting as she tells her granddaughter a supposedly classic fairy tale.




Under eight minutes each, these three shorts right-size their creative concepts.

“Logorama” travels a clever path of corporate logos plastering the world to an absurd level. Effective in-jokes notwithstanding, the filmmakers should have figured a way to do it in 10 minutes instead of 17. Yes, it’s way long, though the satirical fun still works.

The latest offering from the Wallace & Gromit claymation factory is easy, competent, somewhat long. “A Matter of Loaf and Death” is a white bread murder mystery set in the bakery world. Entertaining, it deserves a place in a program of animated shorts (maybe not a place on an Academy Awards list).

Feature length animations have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years. “Up,” for instance, received Best Animation and Best Picture Oscar nominations. It’s a great platform for encouraging more people to connect to the shorter format of cartoon fun.

Chuck Jaffee of Nevada City likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at http://www.startlets.com.


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