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Rated NR

Documentary
That’s right: You can be among the 0.14 percent of Oscar viewers who have actually seen the short-film nominees! Most cities never get a glimpse of these movies, but hard-working Tucsonans at the Loft Cinema have made a deal with Satan himself (aka the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) to bring you all of the animated and live-action shorts. While the nominees are generally a mixed bag, this year’s group does contain a few gems. Virtually all of the animated shorts have something to offer. The Russian Moya Lyubov (My Love) has stunning, painted animation that’s entirely hypnotic. Madame Tutli-Putli features creepy stop-motion animation with a lead character whose eyes look freakishly lifelike. I Met the Walrus is an ink-drawn psychedelic short featuring the voice of John Lennon, who apparently did not like war. It’s a rather dated viewpoint, but perhaps it’s due for a retro moment. Among the live-action films, the standout is The Substitute, a freakish Italian film about a man who hijacks a high school classroom. Like a lot of short films, it aims at a punch line, but it gives lavish attention to the setup. Also excellent, and effectively moving, is Tanghi Argentini, a Belgian heart-warmer about a middle-age man seeking the perfect Christmas gifts for his officemates. There are a couple of clunkers in the mix: At Night, a Danish film about three women with cancer, borrows heavily from Ingmar Bergman’s Brink of Life, but it doesn’t quite have the Swede’s sense of lighting and humanity. And The Tonto Woman, which is nicely shot and full of good ideas, suffers from some stiff direction. Still, the program of 10 shorts is not something film fans will want to miss, and if there’s one you don’t like, wait a few minutes, and it’ll be over.

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