The Oscar-nominated animated shorts currently playing at the Michigan Theater oscillate between the comforting and the darkly disturbing and between the delicious and the tireless, the hardest and the most pretentious.
The only one that is primarily suitable for children is easily the best. Robin Robin is about a family of field mice who adopt a robin after the egg falls from its nest and right next to their house. The main character learns to identify as a bird in a family of mice. It ends with Robin’s family and a new magpie bird friend, teaming up to take on a cat in a memorable and quirky fight with an evil cat.
A single word is ever said in the Russian-made Box Ballet. This film tells the story of a promising ballet dancer and an aging professional boxer. The story oscillates between their stealthy, quietly sweet love affair and the brutal realities of real-world abuse in both of their professions. Without revealing how it ends, let’s just say it ends with a revolution beginning on TV, depicting major historical events for Russia leading up to the final era of Russian history, which lasted until Russia invades Ukraine on February 24.
There is no dialogue at all in Bestia. This quietly odd film from Chile may seem boring at first, but keep watching. The woman the film follows may seem to live a boring and lonely life; but the story unfolds like layers of an increasingly unsettling onion as the filmmakers reveal more details about where she goes and what she does every day. It’s especially poignant if you know anything about the history of Chile’s military dictatorship.
The main character narrates Affair of the Heart in a breathless manner. This brutally honest character study about growing up, family, rekindling lost ambition, and the quirks of human behavior doesn’t care who might be offended or uncomfortable because of it, and it doesn’t. definitely not for children. Although it could have been more edited than it was, it ultimately comes across as a charming film, especially with its animation style, reminiscent of Ed, Edd n Eddy. He might ask big questions and abruptly try to end by answering them in a bit of a factual way; but it’s not a movie most adults would regret watching, especially if you’re feeling stuck and frustrated in life right now.
The Spanish short The Windscreen Wiper is the least impressive. The art style is super sleek and impressive, and the soundtrack is pretty good. But beyond that, there’s not much to praise The Windscreen Wiper. The film jumps somewhat aimlessly between beautifully recreated depictions of cities around the world and a restaurant where a man looks up from the table he’s seated at and asks “What is love?” The movie never really answers that question as it goes from couple to couple and provides quick snippets of their love stories, but the movie is never more than the slightest generalization about the cliches of other love stories. that have been told much better countless times before. His production values are impeccable; but overall it comes across as a film that’s all form and forgot function in a pretentiously hipster way.
Image Credit: Michigan Theater Foundation