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Film Review

Animated shorts are view-worthy

3/2/2022

“Robin Robin”

  • Directed: Dan Ojari and Mikey Please, and featuring voice actors 
  • Stars: Gillian Anderson, Richard E. Grant, and Adeel Akhtar. 
  • (Watch complete short film on Netflix)

An optimistic young robin raised by a family of mice makes a heartfelt wish on a Christmas star. Will she finally learn who she is — and how to fly?

“Robin Robin” follows Robin, a young bird raised by a family of mice after her egg rolls into a dump. As she grows up and the differences between her and her family become more apparent, Robin sets off on a heist to prove that she can be just as good of a mouse as them. 

“Robin Robin” comes from the animation studio Aardman and Netflix. The clever short follows a bird who was raised by mice and seeks to find belonging within her two worlds. “Robin Robin” is a magical Christmas tale, and where a lot of that festive spirit is carried through the storyline, the short carries all the wonder of stop-motion you’d expect to find in an Aardman production. The short showcases all the clever dialogue and humor that Aardman has been known for. “Robin Robin” has a handmade aesthetic that is a blend of needle felt characters and carved, folk-art backgrounds and props.


“Boxballet”

  • Director: Anton Dyakov
  • (Watch short film trailer on YouTube)

What happens when a tank-like boxer falls in love with a brittle ballerina? 

Directed by the up-and-coming Russian director Anton Dyakov, “Boxballet” depicts a charming long-legged ballerina named Olga and a tough-looking boxer named Evgeny (the former heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev-type).

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Their paths accidentally cross when Evgeny rescues Olga’s cat from the tree and falls madly in love with the ballerina. But it’s not the classic “Beauty and the Beast” type story. Evgeny will lose sleep and will have to move mountains to win the love of his one and only. He will even give up boxing to be with his loved one!

“Boxballet” is only 15 minutes long, but it has it all: love, hope, dreams, and sacrifice — all without a word spoken! Dyakov brilliantly juxtaposes the ugly and the beautiful, the silly and the smart, the rough and the elegant. Beyond a love story, “Boxballet” explores ideas of dedication, devotion, bravery and even a little madness.


“Affairs of the Art”

  • Directors: Joanna Quinn 
  • (Watch complete short film on YouTube)

The story of an extraordinary family whose interests become all-consuming — from pickling to bug collecting, no passion is off-limits.

Filmmaking partners Joanna Quinn and Les Mills have spent three and a half decades illustrating the life of the fictional character Beryl, an audacious, working-class Welsh housewife with grand artistic ambitions. Their fourth animated film on Beryl, “Affairs of the Art,” showcases one family’s eccentric obsessions with everything from drawing to screw threads and pet taxidermy. 

As a child, Beryl narrates, she wanted to attend art school, but the demands of life rudely interrupted her plans: she got pregnant with her son, Colin, before hopping into a daily grind at a nearby factory. Now, as a woman in middle age, Beryl is deadset on vigorously pursuing her childhood pastime: art-making. “I’m drinking from the cup of creativity again,” she announces triumphantly in the film’s voice-over introduction. 

Additionally, “Affairs of the Art” spends just as much time on the people around Beryl, including Colin — “another obsessive in the family,” who carefully documents nearby railway systems and teaches himself Dutch for no clear reason. The film is especially intent on exploring the primary compulsion of Beryl’s sister Beverly: death and decay. Even as a child, she had a morbid bent, at one point spending hours with her grandmother’s corpse before accidentally kicking over a nearby bucket of holy water. 

The film is entirely hand-drawn; Quinn produces the bulk of the material herself. ♦

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