Isle of Dogs Screen 9 articles

Isle of Dogs

2018

Isle of Dogs Poster
  • It boils over, not just with kinesthetic fur, but with visual details, cinematic references, and, in a relatively new development for this filmmaker, political ideas. Not every one of those ideas is fully cooked, mind you. This movie can be disappointingly retrograde, especially when it comes to female characters, an area that’s never been Anderson’s strong suit. . . . But it’s hard to resist the energy and wit, the filmmakers’ evident joy in exploring the miniature world they’ve imagined.

  • The compositions are as lovingly crafted as any in the director’s canon. . . . But Anderson’s tendency to crowd his canvas with characters who register as jokes more than dramatis personae (three lines for scientist “Yoko Ono-San,” voiced by… you guessed it) is a problem here, especially in the back half, which is both too plotty and too tidy. Still, it’s a juicy bone for animation connoisseurs and canine enthusiasts—who should say the title three times fast.

  • Anderson’s sequences have the sense of being conceived with such determination that perhaps they would feel robotic if there was not such a genuine playfulness. At its core, this is his most purely sentimental movie, and yet the ways in which he articulates that sentimentality feel urgent, never an afterthought but rather the core from which the film’s elaborate packaging organically extends.

  • Brimful of brilliant, subtly inflected deadpan face-offs of one kind or another – often between the Dogs, whose barking we hear as English, and the Japanese, who all need interpreters for us non-Japanese – Isle of Dogs is a big leap up from Mr. Fox. The voice work and puppetry is combined in compelling fashion, giving the big close-ups of these lovingly mangy critters something more than Creature Comforts personality.

  • Even if Isle of Dogs is at once Anderson's densest and fleetest film to date, it's nevertheless obsessive-compulsive enough to make the occasional handheld shots from 2001's The Royal Tenenbaums and 2004's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou seem daring and experimental in retrospect. Isle of Dogs corroborates the now-old joke that the filmmaker works most confidently with puppets and models, as they're properly suited to these kinds of immaculately constructed dollhouses of cinema.

  • For a director so visually obsessed with symmetry and neatness (and this might genuinely be his most beautiful film), Anderson’s narrative could hardly be messier or more undisciplined. But then it’s difficult to tell if the story is the reason for the endlessly charming imagery, the sight gags, the puns and the poetry . . . or if Anderson had to jankily reverse-engineer some story to justify the wonderful little curlicues he’d thought of separately.

  • The production design is consistently inspired and often quite beautiful: rippling glittery seas, a line of elongated doggie shadows marching along a wall of garbage, a multi-coloured hideout made of discarded sake bottles. There is so much detail in the breakneck race from image to image that Isle of Dogs will reward multiple viewings as much as any Anderson film, visually if not narratively.

  • For all its darkness spiked with terse moments of gore, some of it comic, some of it not, Isle of Dogs is a delight. The bonds between friends are genuinely moving (and the glassy eyes of these characters can be remarkably expressive), the deadpan enthusiasm with which plans are laid out and maps are drawn up (reminiscent of Sam Shakusky’s in Moonrise Kingdom) is endearing, and, as always with Anderson, above all, the design is enthralling.

  • Like all Wes Anderson’s films, Isle Of Dogs is wholly unusual while still being immediately identifiable as a Wes Anderson film. So lush with gorgeous detail it’s like a piece of highly-textured haute couture, there’s also a sharp social message behind the elaborate seams: the dogs are starving, filthy, diseased and quarantined, and only the orphan boy remembers who man’s best friend really is.

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