Friday, March 5, 2010

“Since Brevity Is The Soul Of Wit” –William Shakespeare, Hamlet

I used to call myself a poet. Poetry brought my husband to me. It was the filter through which I lived my life. Its been years now since I’ve written a poem-they used to come so readily, I couldn’t imagine my life without them…

And somewhat sadly, here it is. I live my life attempting to fill this poem-shaped hole. Reading Audre Lorde and e.e. cummings helps. So does listening to This American Life, and spending time in the kitchen creating wild flavors of truffles. This week I spent an evening with poetry of a different sort—The 2009 Animated & Live Action Short Film Nominees for the Academy Award, thanks to the generosity of a friend who is a member of the academy.

Dylan Thomas defined poetry this way: "Poetry is what makes me laugh or cry or yawn, what makes my toenails twinkle, what makes me want to do this or that or nothing." Twinkling toenails, indeed! Some of these films were laugh-out-loud funny...

Granny O'Grimms Sleeping Beauty

Some had moments of such pure, quiet solemn beauty...

Dama y la Muerte

a few were politically incisive, even devastating… some were all of this and more. None exceeded 30 minutes. Most were 20 minutes or shorter.

These are the films we rarely get to see, swept into the dank corner of the Oscars Ceremony most don’t watch, and yet this screening was completely packed. According to Peter Riegert, the evening’s host, The Academy’s screening of the Shorts is always the first to sell out- this year every last ticket was gone within 15 minutes. I know why. I’m already scheming to get my hands on tickets for next year!

For the last 5 years, the Short Film Nominees have been shown in limited release, but for most of us they were still out of reach. This year, for the first time ever, these films are going to be On Demand, for (almost) all to see! I audibly squealed when Mr. Riegert announced this! According to

“The nation’s leading MOD distributor, iN DEMAND L.L.C., will make the films available to U. S. digital cable audiences through Movies On Demand (MOD) starting March 3rd in both standard and high definition. Nominees in both the Live Action and Animated categories will be available on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks systems around the country.
Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, and Bright House Networks will host the films within MOD in an “Award Nominees” category. Comcast customers will find the films within MOD and its “Top Picks” category under the subcategory “Oscar Nominees.” Comcast will also be presenting the top live action short film titles from 2009. The cost for these programs varies from $2.99 to $5.99.”

My Faves? For Best Animated Short, I have to bypass the silly new Wallace and Gromit bit and vote for ‘Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty’ hands down! This hilarious 6 minute treat from Ireland is a love note to storytelling, that favorite of Irish traditions. This one's on Youtube, in full, for free!

As for the Live Action Shorts I feel compelled to name a runner up in addition to my big winner. ‘Instead of Abracadabra’ was charming, awkward and oh-so-funny (in that Napoleon Dynamite kind of way)

Instead of Abracadabra

but ‘The New Tenants’ was transcendent. David Rakoff’s horrifying/hysterical opening monologue is followed by a parade of cameos, who shall remain nameless so as not to spoil the surprise. Hubba hubba is all I have to say about that. And yet, this dark and absurd tale ends so whimsically, so (yes) poetically the final image hasn’t yet stopped twirling around in my head.

So rain-check your big Friday night plans and treat yourself to a heavenly little slice of humanity. And then vote for your favorite eye-poem here!

In the red-carpet spirit of the Academy Awards, I'll be posting the recipes of some swanky cocktails to sip on as you watch. And, yes, its okay to sip fancy drinks in not-so-fancy PJ's.

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