All the components of classic Wes Anderson are present in Isle of Dogs – the effortlessly haunting soundtrack, the all seeing narrator, the funny yet quirky dialogue that’s pitched just the right side of downright odd, and its all served with the director`s characteristic visual flair and inventiveness.
It`s a familiar and oddly comforting confection but here, as with the director`s Fabulous Mr Fox, the story is told using stop motion animation. The technique will alienate some but if early trailers are anything to go by, Anderson has done it again and crafted another sure fire winner.
Isle of Dogs tells the story of Atari Kobayashi, the 12 year old ward of Mayor of Megasaki, Mr Kobayashi. When a mysterious flu sweeps the city, the town`s canines residents are banished to nearby Trash Island, a vast garbage dump where dogs are left to fend for themselves.
When Atari realizes that his beloved canine bodyguard Spots is amongst the banished animals, the young boy sets off on a quest to find Trash Island and rescue his friend. The story arc has led some to perhaps jokingly call `Isle of Dogs` Wes Anderson’s stop-motion take of Saving Private Ryan. However in reality, the film, like much of the director`s catalogue, defys such easy classification.
The canine centred story may strike some long time Anderson fans as strange especially given the directors treatment of the animal in earlier films and it`s certainly true that Anderson`s back catalogue is full of dogs suffering unpleasant fates. This fact even prompted The New Yorker magazine to recently ask `Does Wes Anderson hate dogs?` in an article about the director. The magazine proceeded to offer a plethora of evidence in support of it`s accusation.
The death of snoopy in Moonrise Kingdom, killed by a stray arrow is held up as exhibit A. The fate of Buckley in the Royal Tenenbaum`s is seen as further evidence of the charge. If you`re wondering, Buckley meets his maker when Owen Wilson`s character crashes his car into the family home at the end of the movie.
The film is chock a block full of top cinematic talent with Anderson regulars like Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Jeff Goldblum being joined on voiceover duties by such famous names as Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston and perhaps most wonderfully of all, Yoko Ono.
Anderson recently revealed two very different inspirations for the new film when he spoke at a Gala for his work in France recently. The Fabulous Mr Fox director named Akira Kurosawa, the legendary Japanese director of films like the Seven Samurai, Run and Rashomon as major influences on the film but also somewhat surprisingly namechecked the Christmas tv specials he watched as a child as an influence.
Anderson`s movies can ocassionally seem quite distant in tone and they admittedly often embrace the surreal but for a director of such visual flair, there is a satisfyingly rewarding emotional core to his best films which rewards those who stay for the ride.
So if you`re looking for a unique cinematic experience from a man at the height of his powers, then you could do a lot worse than give Wes Anderson`s Isle of Dogs movie a go.
Isle Of Dogs is due for release 30th March.
More information about the movie can be found here.
Information on other movies on general release in London can be found here.