Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

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mfunk9786
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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#76 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:04 pm

flyonthewall2983 wrote:Cast Interviews
There are so many wonderful touches in those cast interviews (my favorite is the microphone in the Edward Norton one for him to bump his snout into to mimic some mic issues that Norton was having during his interview)

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#77 Post by diamonds » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:20 pm

Just got back from this, and I liked it a lot. It's far and away Anderson's most densely plotted film, and I think it could have benefited from a few more moments of repose. For that reason it may take some time or more viewings for me to digest and decide if the film successfully juggles everything it sets out to. That said, the animation is visually stunning, and no surprise it's chock-full of little gags and visual details, my favorite of which being
SpoilerShow
the sudden X-ray view of the dogs' nervous system when the cure is administered. There's also a quick kabuki theater sequence that seemed authentic down to an actor dressed entirely in black, blending into the background to help simulate a beheading. I thought it was a nice touch.
There is a lot at play thematically:
SpoilerShow
The importance of investigative journalism and speaking truth to power (Gerwig's Tracy Walker exposes the Mayor's corruption and was the standout character for me), reverence toward science – especially as it pertains to political policy, and of course the importance of not letting fear divide or lead to persecution.
Surely it functions on a few levels as a political allegory for our times, but the film avoids being a mere vessel for commentary. It's just too easy to get swept up into the adventure. Like in Isle's cited influence Plague Dogs, Anderson does a pretty great job of keeping the dog puppets still recognizably dog-like in their behavior even while anthropomorphizing their speech. Atari's interactions and relationships with the dogs are brought to life wonderfully with the stop-motion, authentic and heartwarming. Overall, thoroughly enjoyed the first viewing experience!
SpoilerShow
Although, Tilda Swinton was criminally underused!

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#78 Post by Luke M » Fri Mar 23, 2018 2:43 pm

Has anyone seen the movie yet? Sorry, if I missed a review but the free speech dialogue was exhaustive and I skipped at least 15 posts hoping to find someone’s thoughts on the movie.

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#79 Post by criterionoop » Fri Mar 23, 2018 2:50 pm

diamonds wrote:
SpoilerShow
Although, Tilda Swinton was criminally underused!
Said person was effectively used when on screen - everyone in the audience at my screening was laughing during said person's moments. But I did want to see more of that character!

Now the credit that I loved seeing in the movie:
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Anjelica Huston as the mute poodle

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#80 Post by swo17 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 2:52 pm

Luke M wrote:Has anyone seen the movie yet? Sorry, if I missed a review but the free speech dialogue was exhaustive and I skipped at least 15 posts hoping to find someone’s thoughts on the movie.
The only posts so far from people who've seen it are ones with spoiler tags.

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#81 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:10 pm

Despite the fact that much of the initial parts of the conversation were relevant to the film, they were also relevant to what followed as well, so I moved everything regarding cultural appropriation in this film, "free speech" issues in general, and pedantic weeping muppets to the previously established Jordan Peterson thread.

You can continue the discussion of appropriation in this film here though if it's a part of a review of it and it's relevant to your thoughts about it, it'll just now be easier for folks like Luke M to find... you know, posts about the movie in the thread for the movie.

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#82 Post by Luke M » Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:57 am

swo17 wrote:
Luke M wrote:Has anyone seen the movie yet? Sorry, if I missed a review but the free speech dialogue was exhaustive and I skipped at least 15 posts hoping to find someone’s thoughts on the movie.
The only posts so far from people who've seen it are ones with spoiler tags.
Oh welp.
mfunk9786 wrote:Despite the fact that much of the initial parts of the conversation were relevant to the film, they were also relevant to what followed as well, so I moved everything regarding cultural appropriation in this film, "free speech" issues in general, and pedantic weeping muppets to the previously established Jordan Peterson thread.

You can continue the discussion of appropriation in this film here though if it's a part of a review of it and it's relevant to your thoughts about it, it'll just now be easier for folks like Luke M to find... you know, posts about the movie in the thread for the movie.
Much obliged

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#83 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:33 am

I really enjoyed this. It's a very dense film, both visually and plotwise (there were a couple moments where I found my eyes darting around the scene trying to take everything in and I thought to myself okay, chill, you can just watch it twice) and Anderson does a good job of making his use of Japanese imagery fit in the film as a stylistic device within its own context. The way he plays with 60s and 70s Japan is particularly engaging, he has such a keen eye for a space and the way Western architecture and design intrudes reminds me of the queasy, semi-happy ending of Fantastic Mr Fox. It's still weird to see a movie where an entire nation and people is shuffled down into a unified antagonism, which feels as much a part of the throwback as the retro aesthetic - the only other example of something similar I can think of is Chomet's version of America in Triplets of Belleville, though that movie was overtly caricaturistic, whereas here it's harder to tell what the point is besides getting to play with a toybox of Japanese stuff. That doesn't diminish the film, which is amazingly unified in concept, but it's definitely something where you're just kind of like, "huh" throughout.


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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#85 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:36 am

Who is Isle of Dogs for?

It moves at a storytelling pace too dizzying for [most, before anyone rolls in with an “I was a very advanced child” routine] children. Most of its jokes are about how much dogs behave like dogs, which is certainly (I pray) something aimed at children. Those jokes are phrased and delivered in a way likely quite unappealing to [again, most] children, usually run-on sentences about dog biscuit manufacturers’ business practices and so on.

There is an unusual approach to language in the film that throws way too much information on screen any time text is involved, which is a lot of the time - more than in any other Anderson film, the master of cutaways as it is. Imagine the introductions to The Royal Tenenbaums kids' possessions, but happening constantly throughout the film and cutting away quite quickly even if a ton of text and visual information is onscreen. It's lovely for those seeing the film for the dozenth time, I'm sure, or pausing their Blu-ray - but for kids at the movie theater? For adults at the movie theater? Adding to said approach, there is Japanese dialogue that is not subtitled, and then other Japanese dialogue that is delivered verbally via onscreen translator. The film is massively dense, but still about animated dogs and children. So who does it completely succeed for?

And it does indeed feel like c________ a_________ charges are levied fairly against it, insofar as I’ve seen them (as reasonable criticisms and not screaming damnations as they’ve been reduced to). Because this film has none of the cultural density and thoughtful observational nuance that Anderson brought to, say, pre-WW2 Europe in The Grand Budapest Hotel, or even India in The Darjeeling Limited. It is Japan as a paint-by-numbers set of surface level reference points, the same sort of stuff you’d see by searching “Japan” on Etsy or by going to a souvenir shop. Magic Hate Ball put it well calling it a “toybox of Japanese stuff.”

One last time: who is this film for, exactly? Because if Anderson has finally decided he’s mastered his visual style (and boy has he ever, this film is gorgeous) and is just going to make his stuff for the sorts of people who buy crappy illustrated posters and buttons and zippered pencil cases based on his typically excellent work that is not given nearly enough credit for its emotionally complex writing, then I suppose you can count me out. That’s certainly what this felt like, for all its occasional charms. Anderson is capable of more than making children’s films for adults, and I hope he hasn’t lost sight of that.

Oh, and that Greta Gerwig-voiced character? Easily the most misguided and needless in his entire oeuvre. Woof.

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#86 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:44 am

The Car Seat Headrest guy really didn't like this, and isn't altogether wrong about it, either:
Pitchfork wrote:He went on, calling the movie “racist” and a “joyless kid’s film” that’s “specifically designed to be alienating and inappropriate for kids.” He bemoaned that it’s the first “Bad Wes Anderson Movie” and said, “I mean props to Wes for finally making a movie that would appeal to literally zero people beyond himself. But also, fuck you.”
Not sure what makes him a particular authority on this topic enough to make this opinion newsworthy, but I guess we hipsters are all in this Wes Anderson thing together

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#87 Post by domino harvey » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:48 am

He may or may not be right, but why is that a news story?

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#88 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:49 am

Agreed! It's quite bizarre. I'm looking forward to finding out what the bassist from Vampire Weekend thinks of it

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#89 Post by aox » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:59 am

It's been years, but didn't Sofia Coppola face a lot of these same or similar charges with Lost in Translation? Or, am I completely off-base?

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#90 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:05 am

She did, but having seen both, I don't see a similarity. I don't think it's a death sentence for Isle of Dogs that it treats its Japanese characters as little more than punchlines, but unfortunately the English-speaking characters aren't too much more compelling either - whereas Lost in Translation, I would argue, was incredibly strong in that department. Isle of Dogs isn't disappointing because it's got a bizarre relationship to Japanese culture, but it's certainly not bolstered by it, either.

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#91 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:10 pm

But aren't the dogs the stars???

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#92 Post by domino harvey » Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:14 pm

Speciesist

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#93 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:28 pm

Michael Kerpan wrote:But aren't the dogs the stars???
They're the English-speaking characters I was referring to, the only other notable one is Gerwig's Tracy, who is utterly unbearable

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#94 Post by domino harvey » Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:29 pm

She's strangely the only one on the cover of the new issue of Cahiers du Cinema

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#95 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:30 pm

Well, I'll see this next week -- and should have something more useful to say (I hope).

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#96 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:43 pm

A very fair and interesting article in Vulture: What It’s Like to Watch Isle of Dogs As a Japanese Speaker

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#97 Post by MoonlitKnight » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:20 pm

So far, the trailers/TV spots have underwhelmed me more than any Anderson film, since, ever... but I'll still see it regardless.

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#98 Post by McCrutchy » Fri Mar 30, 2018 2:40 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:A very fair and interesting article in Vulture: What It’s Like to Watch Isle of Dogs As a Japanese Speaker
I don't know, I kind of feel about this the same way I did about The Great Wall, in that what I'm seeing, again, are Americans (either Asian-American by birth, or people originally born/from Asia but who have lived here for many years) decrying something about Asians or Asian culture in a Hollywood film, while people who live in Asia have a completely different reaction.

I remember when the controversy about The Great Wall was stirred up, there was an (inappropriate) reaction to the trailer, that it would be a white savior narrative, mainly from Americans, like Constance Wu (born and raised in the USA), and that was debated right up through the film's premiere. Never mind the fact that China funded it, and that it had a Chinese director, and that the reaction of the Chinese people was apparently one of excitement that their stars would share the screen with a Hollywood actor like Matt Damon. None of that mattered, because certain Americans felt uncomfortable about white American actor in a Chinese story.

Now, it seems like a similar thing is happening with Isle of Dogs, a movie which, while largely made in the UK/US, does count an actual Japanese person as a screenwriter/casting director, as well as actual Japanese people in Japanese-speaking roles. The writer of that article, who may have been born in Japan, but freely admits she is "a nonfluent (seriously, the opposite of fluent) Japanese speaker" with a "pathetic grasp of the language of the country I was born in"--that almost certainly means she moved here as a child, which makes her pretty much an American in matters like this, she certainly doesn't live in Japan if she doesn't know the language, anyway--thought she would have a problem with this movie right when she first saw the trailer months ago, so she started with a preconceived notion that there would be a problem with the film, and then looked for issues in it once she saw it, something I'm sure several others did, too.

And then, her "sample size" (of three) includes a vague description of Anthony, an Asian-American who was born in L.A., speaks Japanese and sounds like he must live in California, a Japanese woman going under the code name (!) "Lisa", who grew up in Japan (but lived in the UK/US as an adult) and lives where now? And then finally, a Thai person living in California who knows Japanese because they lived in Tokyo for five years. That's a bit lame, honestly. Even with the internet, and, I assume, Japanese parents/family, this girl can't find one person currently living in Japan to talk to about this? And as she admits as much, there is her statement that "several people mentioned to me on social media that many of their Japanese friends living in the States didn’t even know about the film, much less have passionate opinions on its treatment of their culture", which makes a lot of sense because Japanese people haven't gotten to see it yet. But of course, who wants to wait until May for Japanese people to react to a depiction of Japan, when Americans can do it for them in March?

And the kicker is that of her three person panel, it's Anthony, the one who, again, going off very vague descriptions, seems the most American, who really felt the film had any issues at all. Beam, the Thai waiter, seemed a bit put off by "a few things that are tone-deaf", but again, Thai people who spend five years in Tokyo aren't Japanese. And unsurprisingly, the most criticism that they got out of "Lisa", the one actual Japanese person, was that there weren't really any easter eggs for Japanese viewers to enjoy. In fact, Lisa's exact comment is that she "really enjoyed the film, and thinks it will go over well with Japanese viewers when it’s released there in May. 'It’s not an accurate reflection of Japan, but it’s based on Japanese fables and a Japanese point of view, and Japanese problems. And we love dogs.'" Does that sound like someone who feels their culture was "appropriated"? Even Anthony has to admit that according to what he sees on social media in Japan, "there...[is]...a general eagerness to see it. 'People are like, "I know he’s going to respect Japanese culture,"...'Japanese people love Wes Anderson.'"

Look, I am a first-generation American myself, so I know the temptation to reach out to your familial culture and try to wear both hats. But let's face it, people are free in much of this world, and if you are an Asian-American who feels a strong connection to your ancestral country, then by all means, go move there and experience daily life in Japan or China. But if you choose to live most or all of your life in California or New York, maybe the progressive, kind, respectful thing to do is to wait for audiences living in Asia to react first. It's not really the job of an American, even an Asian-American, to dictate to the world how we are supposed to perceive Asian representation in a particular work of art.

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#99 Post by knives » Fri Mar 30, 2018 3:08 pm

McCrutchy wrote:Look, I am a first-generation American myself, so I know the temptation to reach out to your familial culture and try to wear both hats. But let's face it, people are free in much of this world, and if you are an Asian-American who feels a strong connection to your ancestral country, then by all means, go move there and experience daily life in Japan or China. But if you choose to live most or all of your life in California or New York, maybe the progressive, kind, respectful thing to do is to wait for audiences living in Asia to react first. It's not really the job of an American, even an Asian-American, to dictate to the world how we are supposed to perceive Asian representation in a particular work of art.
Out of curiosity why those two states?

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Re: Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)

#100 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Mar 30, 2018 3:27 pm

I think there’s an implicit “for example” there.

I haven’t seen the film and don’t know anything firsthand about Japanese culture, and so am passing no judgement for or against on that front, but when it comes to articles like this one: I can’t help but think that there was an editorial meeting where it was decided that they needed a take on the cultural appropriation angle as that gained steam online, but needed it ASAP to coincide with the movie’s release in NY/LA, so with no time to actually do the work to find an actual Japanese citizen or anyone with any kind of relevant expertise, this is what we got.

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