West of the Moon

2013.bestshortfilms

If you aren’t plugged in to what’s going on with short films, you’re missing out on an insane amount of outstanding entertainment. People talk about how difficult it was to whittle down Best Of lists for features this year (Her or Gravity or 12 Years a Slave?!) but after watching almost 3,000 shorts in 12 months, it feels like the depth of talent is growing in a big way on the small side. As a testament to the medium’s freedoms, more and more feature filmmakers are returning to it. No longer simply a calling card or an early stepping stone, shorts have an undeniable power coupled with an infinite platform that some are just now discovering. They’re also strange to categorize. For some, the internet is a red carpet while for others, it’s a final stop after touring festivals for years. As such, some of the best short films of 2013 were made a couple years ago. The focus is certainly on new projects, but some don’t find an audience quickly even as their magic deserves mention. Plus, there are 2013 movies like Noah that would have made this list, but are now unavailable (in most cases — including Noah‘s — because studios are keeping the work offline in order to have well-earned contractual conversations). But instead of getting bogged down in specifics, please let your mind wander for a short while.

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West of the Moon

Why Watch? Feeling more like a folktale written by children than for children, this beautiful short from writer/director/animator Brent Bonacorso blends tongue-in-cheek fantasy with the CGI chops to layer a whimsical fiction on top of reality. Beyond the evocative name itself, West of the Moon feels a lot like what Georges Melies would make if he had today’s filmmaking tools. In the story, an old man regrets a lost love and details with absent-minded precision his adventures with a card-playing robot and a monkey on a mission. Playfully heartbroken in its execution, there are touches of Tarsim Singh’s The Fall and Big Fish here, but Bonacorso proves to have a style all his own — painting with just about every color on the palette and inventing visuals with DP Tarin Anderson that command attention while defying logic. Plus, lead actor Jacob Whitkin truly brings the old man to life solely through his movements and expressions, adding a saltiness that pairs perfectly with the narration. Overall, it’s a delight from start to finish. A masterpiece of short fiction. Hat tip to Short of the Week for this gem. What Will It Cost? Just about 10 minutes. A new short film posted every week day at 2pm Central.

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published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B
published: 12.12.2014
D+


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