Friday, May 11, 2018

Isle of Dogs

Within the last twenty-plus years, Wes Anderson has established himself as a unique presence in the world of film. (He's certainly doing something right if Martin Scorsese's praising him.) With all but one of his films being original works (with Fantastic Mr. Fox being the lone exception), it's no wonder that he's prone to stand out amongst bloated sequels and big-budget spectacles.

So where does his latest film Isle of Dogs stand? His second foray into animation (again, the first being Fantastic Mr. Fox), it bolsters the expected mix of Anderson regulars and some surprising inclusions (Yoko Ono!) as well as that display of eccentricity. But some might be crying foul at the predominately white roster of actors amid the film's setting.

But let's focus on that, shall we? For those concerned, no, there aren't any white actors voicing Japanese characters (Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson have dealt with the brunt of those previous casting decisions enough for several lifetimes.) Most of them voice the titular dogs, and the beginning of the film specifies that the Japanese dialogue remains untranslated save for a few scenes. So no stereotypes here, right? Well, not quite.

Some might view Greta Gerwig's character bordering on white savior (she sort of does) and what many perceive as Japanese culture is on display throughout Isle of Dogs. If anything, it's not so much racially insensitive as it is more along the lines of cultural tourism on Anderson's part. (Hopefully he'll learn from his mistakes here so as not to affect later works.)

Anyway, Isle of Dogs continues to show Anderson's worth as a storyteller. A few bumps towards Japanese culture aside, he possesses an imagination unlike anyone before him. Will he surpass his current cinematic streak? Only time will tell.

My Rating: ****1/2

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