ISLE OF DOGS
Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin) is the 12-year-old ward to corrupt Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura). When all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump, Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies to Trash Island in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots (Liev Schreiber). There, with the assistance of a pack of newly-found mongrel friends, he begins an epic journey that will decide the fate and future of the entire Prefecture.
Review by Louise Keller:
Imbued with Japanese sensibility, Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs is an overtly visual film whose striking imagery, resounding rhythmic score and cinematic references almost overshadow the central story about honour and man's best friend. Outwardly simple but not simplistic, the film is more sophisticated than his 2009 stop animation adaptation of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox, but equally accessible, and bears the filmmaker's unique, distinctive and quirky stamp. Combining Anderson's fascination for dogs and Japanese cinema, this futuristic adventure with its meticulous attention to detail, wry sense of humour and wonderful voice cast offers all the hallmarks of a cult following.
The plot involves the exile of all the dogs of Megasaki to Trash Island in the Japanese archipelago following an epidemic of dog flu to which there is no antidote. While Atari (Koyu Rankin) the 12 year old ward of the corrupt Mayor (Kunichi Nomura) is the heroic protagonist who embraces danger in search of his beloved body-guard dog Spots (Liev Schreiber), it is the diseased alpha dogs abandoned in the wastelands, led by black, scruffy stray Chief (Bryan Cranston) that are the real heroes.
The dynamic between the dogs is nicely drawn as is the scene when rough and tumble Chief meets the ultra feminine Nutmeg; Scarlett Johansson's husky voice sounds as seductive as the back lit golden show dog looks. Canine chemistry sizzles. How can you go past a voice cast that includes Anderson favourite Bill Murray plus Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Ken Watanabe, Tilda Swinton and Yoko Ono?
The complexity of the elements are seamlessly interwoven and I love the fact that the dogs are the only ones that speak English; the rest of the dialogue is a mix of non sub-titled Japanese and occasional owl-talk. Tears may occasionally well in the dogs' eyes, but there is nothing sentimental about the way the exposition plays out.
Akira Kurosawa aficionados will relish the filmic references; cinema lovers will delight in the rich visuals and Anderson fans will inwardly chuckle at the tone, the vibe and the touch. It's a film that permeates our senses and lingers when there is time to revisit the look, sound and inventive ideas in our mind's eye. Anderson is one of a kind: a creative maverick who makes his statement count.
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ISLE OF DOGS (MA15+)
VOICES: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Kunichi Nomura, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono
PRODUCER: Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales, Scott Rudin
DIRECTOR: Wes Anderson
SCRIPT: Wes Anderson (Story by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, Kunichi Nomura)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tristan Oliver
EDITOR: Edward Bursch, Ralph Foster, Andrew Weisblum
MUSIC: Alexandre Desplat
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paul Harrod, Adam Stockhausen
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 12, 2018