I'm writing earlier than usual today because I literally just finished watching the movie "Isle of Dogs", and I have some thoughts.
I'm a Wes Anderson fan. I like pretty much all of his movies, save for maybe "Darjeeling Limited", but even that movie has its moments. I was first introduced to Anderson by RD, when he showed me the classic movie "Rushmore". I was immediately in love. The way he shot and directed the movie, that is how I like my independent comedies. A little dark, but usually with a fairly happy ending. After "Rushmore" I dug very deep into the world of Wes Anderson. I watched his first movie "Bottle Rocket" next. That is a great, very underrated movie. Then I saw "Royal Tenenbaums". That is, not only one of his best movies, but one of the best movies ever made. It is nearly perfect. RD and I then saw "Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" on Christams day in 2004. I think that is a very solid movie. It doesn't get the love his other movies do, but I enjoyed it. My wife and I, who at the time was my girlfriend, watched "Fantastic Mr Fox". That movie is an achievement. It was so cool. The stop motion was neat and the story was great. My wife and I, to this day, still walk around the house saying, "I'm more of an athlete" all the time. We then sat down a few years later and watched "Moonrise Kingdom". That is one of the sweetest movies ever. It is also a great story about childhood. I'd take "Moonrise Kingdom" any day over "Boyhood". I then watched "Grand Budapest Hotel" by myself in the theaters. That movie is cool. It is neat to look at, the story is fun and it is very adventurous. I also love the detail that went into it. I liked it so much that I convinced my wife to watch it on a flight we were on to Mexico for our anniversary.
Then I kind of forgot about Anderson. He didn't make anything for a couple years. I remember seeing the preview for "Isle of Dogs", but I never got the chance to see it in the theaters. Luckily I have HBO, and I was up early today and it was on. I watched it before taking my son to school, and I really, really, really liked it a lot.
I'm going to go out on a limb here, because Anderson is a writer and director I have come to really enjoy, I think "Isle of Dogs" is his best movie. And this is not recency bias. While watching "Isle of Dogs" I thought about his other movies, and while some may be better in smaller aspects, I feel like "Isle of Dogs" is the perfect amalgamation of everything that Anderson is, and wants to be, as a director and writer. First of all, he goes back to the stop motion that made "Fantastic Mr Fox" so cool. Except in "Isle of Dogs" I think it looks so much better done. He really honed his skills and the people that worked on this movie with him are really good technicians. The dogs looked real. Their fur, when the wind would blow, looked just like my dog when he rides in the car with me and I have the windows down. The humans in the movie looked real too. They didn't have that Claymation feel that so many stop motion movies have. Sure they had wild hair and wild costumes, but they looked like real people. The voice work in this movie is amazing too. The people Anderson got are all amazing. He has his usual people, like Edward Norton, Greta Gerwig, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel and F Murray Abraham. But the people he added to the cast are a who's who. Frances McDormand, Liev Schreiber, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Courtney B Vance and Bryan Cranston. And they were great. Cranston is the voice of the main dog and he is tremendous. Vance as the narrator of the story was the perfect person to tell this story. He has a great voice for a role like this. McDormand as a translator was so good too.
That was another thing I loved about this movie. It takes place in the future in Japan, and the Japanese people in the movie are voiced by Japanese people, and then the dialogue is translated via text or people playing translators. And the kid who plays the main human, Atari, voiced by Koyu Rankin, is so easy to root for. Yoko Ono plays a voice of a scientist in the movie. The evil mayor, Kobayashi, voiced by Kunichi Nomura, was so threatening, but does have a heart of gold. The real bad guy, Major Domo, voiced by Akira Takayama, was so scary my kids were afraid to watch when he was onscreen. He was phenomenal.
Which leads me to the story of this movie, and what I interpreted it as. This movie is about classism and judging one without really knowing them. Sure, the main characters are dogs, but that doesn't mean you cannot tell a story like that. And the way Anderson pulls it off is glorious. The mayor sending these dogs to "Trash Island" because he believes them to be "bad dogs", just casting them aside, was so sad. Funny thing about that, I could see our current "government" doing something very similar. Hell, they already are trying to do this, separating families at the border like a bunch of terrorists. Looking at this "fake" government in "Isle of Dogs" was so eerily similar to what the real "government" is trying to do right now. Anderson drew a perfect parallel. Then, to see the dogs side of the story, it was just amazing. To see them trying to survive, to hear their stories, to see some of them thrive, it was great. Also, seeing the opposition's story, which included the mayor's "son", had me wanting to start a revolution myself. I love to see the resistance win, and they certainly win in "Isle of Dogs".
I feel like this movie is the best work that Anderson has done to date. I have zero problems with it. I want to watch it a million more times. I do not think I will ever grow tired of it. I have a newfound respect for my dog after seeing it. I want to treat people better, not that I was treating anyone bad, after seeing this movie. The movie also makes me like Anderson even more. I don't care if that makes me sound pretentious either, the dude makes good to great movies pretty much all the time. I almost wish I had seen it prior to this morning because it definitely would have made my best of 2018.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. He was going to make a movie about his dog, but the only compelling drama he could find is when Charlie spent ten minutes going in a circle looking for a place to pee.
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