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13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Excellent

9/10
Author: terrellholmes from United States
18 February 2007

I attended a screening of the Oscar-nominated shorts yesterday and if I had a vote in the Academy it would go to "Maestro". At the beginning I wasn't quite sure of what kind of world it took place in. On the surface it looked like a backstage peek at an impennate opera singer preparing for a show. But why was a mechanical arm doing all of the grooming, drink mixing, and other tasks? The interesting thing I noticed about "Maestro" was that as the camera circled around, the perspective changed at one second intervals. This technique recalls the motion of a second hand and hints strongly at the film's wonderful punch line.

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

A wonderfully funny short!

10/10
Author: Skeeter700 from British Columbia
28 January 2007

This short animated film shows a great performer preparing to take to the stage in the last few minutes before the curtain rises. With the help of a mechanical arm, a feathered "Maestro" is groomed and exercises his voice. "The Maestro" was directed by The Hungarian film maker Géza M. Tóth and it competed in over 40 international animation competitions and gained a nomination for an Academy Award. The Maestro is well-animated slowly builds for its five minute run up to one fantastic joke. The animation is solid and the technique of having the camera circle three-hundred-sixty degrees around the characters helps build the suspense towards its funny finale. The sound is well dubbed and matches the tone of the images being presented. Overall, "The Maestro" is a short of great quality.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The Ending Will Blow You Away!

9/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
24 July 2007

We first witness a robot, in the form of a expanding metal arm, mixing a drink for the "maestro" who is sitting in front of a mirror in his dressing room apparently preparing to perform somewhere.

The expanding arm also reaches into a top drawer and brings out selected items for the man. It's his makeup, which the mechanical arm puts on him, along with other chores such as dusting his top hat so he is totally ready for his performance. Meanwhile, the man gets his voice ready with some notes, so our guess is that he's an opera singer.

Two things stood out for me in this animated short: the direction and the ending. The "camera" roams 360 degrees around the little room so we see what's going on from all angles. The ending I can't give away but it was a stunner and made me smile with appreciation for the cleverness. Rarely have I seen an ending so good.

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A funny, well-crafted film

6/10
Author: Niffiwan from Toronto, Canada
13 February 2007

This is funny, well-crafted, computer-animated short film that'll give you a good laugh if you watch it. You can find it for free online (and legally) by searching for it at the "Portable Film Festival".

The fact I'm giving the film a 6 does not at all mean that I disliked it - as another user said, the film moves in a very deliberate way to a funny conclusion that you the viewer will probably not expect. It's definitely worth a look.

The thing is, that's all there is to it. The film sets its target low and does a great job of achieving it, but it's still a low target. I'm not sure that it has enough in it to deserve an Oscar nomination (especially when exemplary artistic masterpieces such as Aleksandr Petrov's "My Love" were left out of the list). It's a fine film that's worth watching, but it's still only based around a rather short, simple joke and doesn't aim for anything higher.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Very good visuals and with a cute premise and ending, but once you know the punchline, it loses something in repeated viewings

6/10
Author: Robert Reynolds (minniemato@hotmail.com) from Tucson AZ
12 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This short was nominated for the Academy Award, Animated Short category. It's difficult to discuss a five minute cartoon without giving away details, so consider this your spoiler warning: The visuals in this are very good, with the character design particularly-the detail is fascinating. As is to be expected with a five minute short, there is a slender plot here and the timing is key to this working. It's a one-joke premise and the director builds to it magnificently, with the image of a pampered superstar carefully created in a surprisingly short space, with the ending coming as a surprise, at least to me.

The trouble is, while most excellent shorts merit repeated viewings (there are animated shorts I've seen dozens of times and they always seem alive and fascinating however often I see them), each time I watch this one, it impresses me a little less than it did before. Knowing the payoff has a lot to do with this (though I've seen Balance at least a dozen times and even knowing the ending makes no difference, as I still get chills every time I watch).

The only thing I can figure is that, if you're telling a joke (and that's what Maestro is, ultimately-a visual joke), knowing the ending often reduces the humor.

This is on DVD-The 2006 Academy Award Short Films, released by Magnolia and this and the entire disc are well worth watching. Recommended.

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Saved by the ending

6/10
Author: Thomas (filmreviews@web.de) from Berlin, Germany
12 July 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Maestro" is an animated short film from 10 years ago. It's actually a Hungarian production by writer and director Géza M. Tóth. But don't worry, there is no spoken language in here, so you don't need to be able to understand Hungarian. Anyway, it's pretty short, roughly 4.5 minutes and shows us how a bird, apparently an opera singer, prepares for his great moment on stage. All in all, I was not too impressed by this film here, with the exception of two moments. The first would be when his voice slowly transforms from tough to listen to into wonderful to listen to. The second is the ending. I won't go anymore into detail here, but I have to say it caught me completely by surprise and made me laugh. All in all, I guess I agree with the Oscar nomination because the animation here is fine as well. I even would have preferred it was the winner over the Danish entry. It's also better than the "Ice Age" short film and maybe only slightly inferior to the Pixar entry that year. Still, easily my number one choice is "The Little Match Girl", which was such a wonderful experience and, almost 10 years later, still makes me sad that it did not win. Back to "Maestro", I recommend it and I hope we get a full feature movie from the director at some point, if he manages to make it work. I am not entirely sure if he has it inside him looking at how short this one here is and how strongly it relies on the final twist, but why not give it a go, Mr. Tóth?

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Very clever and worth seeing

7/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
26 February 2008

This film is a very short film--even for an animated short. Despite only being about five minutes long, it was nominated for the Oscar for this category in 2006, though it lost to THE DANISH POET. The film is very simple and consists of a robotic arm that applies makeup, provides drinks and completely takes care of a cute little bird. You don't exactly know why all this is occurring but it all makes sense at the end of the film.

Now for the first few minutes of the short, I thought to myself that the CG animation was decent but not especially eye-popping compared to many of the shorts that are out there. This isn't just referring to Pixar, Fox and Dreamworks, but even to some of the smaller studios such as Blur Studio (who made the wonderful A GENTLEMEN'S DUEL). However, I am glad I didn't give up on the film, as the punchline was well worth the wait and very, very clever.

This film is one of the bonus shorts included with the wonderful DVD "A Collection of 2006 Academy Award Nominated Short Films"--a must have for fans of the genre.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Like clockwork

6/10
Author: ackstasis from Australia
24 October 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When it comes to the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short, you can usually divide the selections into two broad categories. There's the deep emotional tales that tell a complete story – say, 'Harvie Krumpet (2004)' and 'My Love (2006)' – and then there's the one-joke comedic shorts, which are typically enjoyable but inconsequential five-minute distractions. As such, I'm usually disappointed when the latter category earns themselves nominations, as I can't escape the feeling that there's a profound, meaningful alternative out there that I'll now never hear about. 'Maestro (2005),' directed by Géza M. Tóth, inspired this type of mild, illogical resentment; it's good, but it's nothing special, a single funny joke that takes a full five minutes to even approach its punchline. This is not necessarily to say anything negative about the short, merely that its ambitions were quaint from the very beginning. Not every animated film should say something profound about the state of human existence, and perhaps I should simply enjoy this little gag for what it is.

In a dark dressing-room, as a chicken-like opera singer prepares for his next performance, a nifty mechanical device industriously grooms him for the big moment. As the machine goes about its duties – pouring a martini, applying make-up, dusting off clothing – the camera, in one clever long-take, continually carves a 360-degree path around the Maestro, shifting in one-second increments like the second hand of a ticking clock. The computer animation is smooth and crisp, doing a fine job of readjusting to the rapidly-changing lighting conditions as the camera consistently circles. The suspense of the big moment is prolonged, to such an extent that the five minutes preceding the all-important punchline seem stagnant and expendable once we know what is about to happen. I don't think that this short will hold up on repeat viewings, and, indeed, I don't feel any inclination to watch it again (which is where it differs even from Pixar shorts like 'Geri's Game (1997),' which I could watch all day). 'Maestro' is worth a look, but it's not one for posterity.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A most amusing 5-minute animated short.

Author: TxMike from Houston, Tx, USA, Earth
30 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of the short films nominated in 2006 for an Academy Award, it is part of a collection on DVD. It is done is modern computerized animation and is very well made. Watch it if you ever have the chance.

The tile of the DVD is "A Collection of 2006 Academy Award Nominated Short Films."

SPOILERS - DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM SHORT YET.

We see what appears to be a bird who is an opera singer, he is in his dressing room, warming up his vocal cords, while his robotic assistant helps dress him, tend to his makeup, and prepare him for the upcoming performance. It has all the trappings of a real opera singer getting ready. Only at the end do we realize that he is actually inside a clock, and the performance is the hourly chime "coo-coo" in the clock.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Clockwork

8/10
Author: Polaris_DiB from United States
20 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This short film has two things going for it, and makes the best of both: one, it uses it's clock motif to constantly change the angles, making every moment seem fresh and original while the cuckoo and his attachment make preparations, and two, the clockwork and timing itself rhymes with a constantly changing lighting set-up that gives a lot of life to the short even during times when the angle becomes awkward or something gets in the way.

I think timing is the best thing about this film, in every respect. Where the "camera" is at any one point, what it reveals, what we see, and how the field widens as we get closer to the revelation at the end. Then the lighting at the end helps underline said revelation, resulting in the best audience reaction I've seen in years: a pause while the moment is understood, and then hysterical reaction. This short is incredibly creative, even if it really is just a gag with a single punchline.

--PolarisDiB

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