Oscar-Nominated Short Films 2009 | Chicago Reader

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Two programs of Oscar hopefuls, one animated and the other live-action (documentaries never seem to make the cut). The animated nominees are unusually short and punchy, with two entries aiming for Warners-style slapstick. Doug Sweetland's Presto, which many will remember as the opening cartoon for WALL-E, is a Bugs-and-Elmer-style battle between a magician onstage and his rabbit in the wings; Adam Foulkes and Alan Smith's This Way Up, commissioned for Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt's touring Animation Show, is a Road Runner-esque romp in which two morticians in stovepipe hats see their hearse crushed by a giant boulder and give chase after the escaped coffin. My favorite, though, is Konstantin Bronzit's Russian Lavatory Lovestory, a simple black-and-white line animation about a lonely woman working at a mass transit station and the love that unexpectedly comes into her life (in carefully chosen spot color). Shorts from Denmark and Germany/Switzerland dominate the live-action program. In Dorthe Hogh's philosophical farce The Pig, an old man awaiting a cancer diagnosis in the hospital takes solace from a framed painting of a pig in his room, which, to his consternation, is taken down by the Muslim family of the man sharing the room. And Roeland Wiesnekker gives an arresting performance in Reto Caffi's dark drama On the Line, as a lumpish, isolated security guard who spies on a shy bookstore clerk.

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