"Isle of Dogs" Is Hate It Or Love It; I Don't Just Love It, I Live for It

"Isle of Dogs" Is Hate It Or Love It; I Don't Just Love It, I Live for It

A few guys I know viewed this when it came into theaters. "It's.....OK," one said.

The critics said:

“Isle of Dogs” does not have a compelling story, and even worse, it has the most egregious examples of its director’s privilege since “The Darjeeling Limited.” This movie really pissed me off, and the only thing I found soothing while watching it was silently repeating to myself “the dogs are very furry.” Reminding myself of the film’s best asset kept me from walking out.
— Odie Henderson, The Chicago Tribune

A bit extreme. OK. Moving on...

But there are differences between Japanophilia and cinephilia, just as there are differences between paying tribute to a foreign culture and using what you’ve gleaned about a country from watching its movies as some sort of exotic backdrop. And therein lies the problem. I love so much in Isle of Dogs. I am moved by it. So why do I find myself cringing so hard at the way it reduces an entire nation’s history and character to the equivalent of an album’s deep-cut?
— David Fear, Rolling Stone

That review talks about how awkwardly the film has Japanese mixed into the film. At one point, the "little pilot" is asking a dog a line, "Where are you?" in Japanese without any subtitles, and the dog answers in English playing fetch. That kind of thing. The acting delivery is the same sort of fast speaking, whispery, blunt kind from The Fantastic Mr. Fox. People whose acting styles aren't that speech standard use it here. Scarlett Jo playing a show dog sounds like Meryl Streep's Mrs. Fox. The voice is so "anyone," you wonder why anyone bothered casting an all star cast.

You're saying, only a Japanese person can direct this? But it's OK for a non-American person to direct an American set story? I'm all against cultural appropriation when it's in bad taste. As a big lover of Japanese art and everything about that part of the world, that's too much. I purposely go out of my way to ensure my work plays in Japan on Amazon Prime because being like Hayao Miyazaki makes me emotional knowing my animations are seen by those who love quirky animation most. Wes Anderson is probably a lot like me.

I loved the bilingual nature of the film. Something is sooooooo weird hearing people in another country speaking English. The setup is plausible. What if Japanese dogs don't speak Japanese? They speak dog, and to us, "inu" speak sounds like our English? Could happen!!!!!! The film intro claims the "dog's barks are translated into English." LOVE IT.

The film's aesthetic is unbelievable. You feel like a big Met art museum work is coming to life. This alone on mute is something you cannot look away from. Unbelievable is too light a word. Let's consult the thesaurus. Marvelous. Stupendous. Wondrous. Something you cannot experience life without doing. If you live and don't watch this movie, you have not lived. The artwork in it is one of the, if not the, best animated original qualities I have ever witnessed.

The story is so quirky. Original is not original enough. Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs is special. He gets to be himself. With Fantastic Mr. Fox, Mr. Anderson was trapped in a box of working with a pre-existing plot. Sticking to someone's work is never explosive fun. This movie is weird, normal, over the top, bizarre, normal again, outrageous, too much for a cartoon, childish again, so all over the place. I wish I directed this movie. Isle of Dogs has to be my favorite of all Mr. Anderson's films he has directed up to this point!

I was hearing voices from home. They were neither inscrutable nor flat. They were Japanese, in various shades of age and talent and fame. I heard Mari Natsuki—better known Stateside as the voice of Yubaba, from “Spirited Away”—in the host mother who dresses down an overexcited white girl: “Be quiet, go to sleep, I don’t care about your newspaper, just go to sleep.”
— Moeko Fujii, The New Yorker

That review was written by a journalist born in Japan, thrilled to see her native Japanese on the screen done respectfully.

I loved how un-Disney this film was. Animation is art. The majority of Hollywood work takes animation into mass consumption, has to please everyone stuff. I loved that this film takes risks, pulls them off, and you stare at the artistry in the plot and the visuals. Definitely going on my inspo list.

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