In his latest film Isle of Dogs (and yes, it’s supposed to sound like “I Love Dogs”) Wes Anderson assembles his usual cast of voice actors to tell a quirky tale of the love and loyalty between a boy and his dog. The film is created with stop-motion animation and each moment bears the signature stamp of Anderson’s visual intentionality; nothing is ever by accident in his films, and the shapes and colours of everything on screen are beautifully assembled. Isle of Dogs is a feast for your eyes from start credits to end credits, and full to the brim with the most adorable stop-motion pups you can imagine. The voice acting is also superbly performed with a casual, conversational feel to the dialogue that you rarely get from cartoon voice-acting.
This inevitably changes the message to one where Japanese is the incomprehensible “other”, and underscores an uncomfortable problem with the film. The hero is named “Atari”, the villain is named “Kobayashi”, and hey, then he throws in sumo wrestlers, samurai swords, and Yoko Ono. Anderson’s version of Japan in this film feels like a list of Japanese things he liked as a kid, with no attempt at cultural authenticity or context.
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