Wes An­der­son’s new movie pays trib­ute to ca­nines and Kuro­sawa

Esquire (UK) - - CONTENTS - Edited by Mi­randa Collinge

Isle of Dogs un­leashed; Richie Cul­ver’s Hull show; Un­known Mor­tal Orches­tra; gory story The Alienist; tyrants, dic­ta­tors and despots; Aids cri­sis ex­plored; David Peace back in Japan; Jack White’s third solo out­ing; de­sign ge­nius Mil­ton Glaser; Irvine Welsh’s Dead Men’s Trousers; Reg­gie Yates on Gren­fell

→ Wes An­der­son has made a film about dogs. Ad­mit­tedly, th­ese are An­der­so­nian dogs: stop-frame an­i­ma­tion ca­nines who live on an is­land of trash out­side a fic­tional Ja­panese city called Me­gasaki, ban­ished there by a cor­rupt mayor be­cause of a fic­tional doggy disease, and who speak with the soft, wry de­liv­ery of some of the di­rec­tor’s most fre­quent col­lab­o­ra­tors — Ed Nor­ton, Bill Mur­ray, Jeff Gold­blum — be­cause those are in­deed the ac­tors who voice them.

This is An­der­son’s sec­ond foray into stop-frame an­i­ma­tion af­ter 2009’s ex­quis­ite Fan­tas­tic Mr Fox, and as usual he is leav­ing no cor­ner un­cut: the crew for Isle of Dogs num­bered 670 with 70 of those alone on pup­pets. The sets, in­spired by Edope­riod wood­blocks, are stun­ning; the cos­tumes — teeny-tiny space suits, sailor-girl school uni­forms, ki­monocum-lab-coats — are adorable. Even the rub­bish dump on which the dogs live in ra­bid squalor is a lit­tle bit di­vine. And while the mak­ers of the forth­com­ing Avengers: In­fin­ity War might be crow­ing about their star haul (Iron Man! Dr Strange! Black Pan­ther! Spi­der-Man! Groot!), An­der­son’s is also pretty cos­mic in hip Hol­ly­wood terms: along­side Nor­ton, Mur­ray and Gold­blum you might also catch the dul­cet tones of Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, Greta Ger­wig, Har­vey Kei­tel,

Tilda Swin­ton, Ken Watan­abe, Liev Schrieber, Frances McDor­mand and Yoko Ono (though you prob­a­bly won’t catch An­jel­ica Hus­ton, who plays “mute poo­dle”).

And this be­ing a Wes An­der­son film about dogs, it is both a film about dogs, and also a love-note to the Ja­panese film-mak­ers by whom An­der­son and his band of co-writ­ers, Ro­man Cop­pola, Jason Schwartz­man and Ku­nichi No­mura, are fas­ci­nated; even the fact of be­ing a band of co-writ­ers is a nod to the scriptcre­at­ing habits of Akira Kuro­sawa. But just when you’re steel­ing your­self to work your way through the cat­a­logue of per­ti­nent Kuro­sawa films that aren’t Rashomon or Seven Sa­mu­rai (Drunken An­gel, The Bad Sleep Well, High and Low and Stray Dog), be­fore mov­ing on to the mon­ster movies of Ishirô Honda and the post-war works of Ya­su­jirô Ozu, re­mem­ber that this is also a sweet film about a lit­tle boy look­ing for his lost dog. And that can be enough.

Isle of Dogs is out on 30 March

King (Bob Bal­a­ban) and Boss (Bill Mur­ray) with new pal Atari (Koyu Rankin) in Isle of Dogs

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