“Isle of Dogs” is an Insane Oil Painting Brought to Life

Wes Anderson makes beautiful pictures. Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, the list goes on and on – all masterpieces of visual style and storytelling, all very much Wes Anderson-y films; a style both easy to love and easy to playfully make fun off.

And his next film is Isle of Dogs, a story set in a dystopian Japan of the future, where dogs have been outlawed, and one boy’s odyssey in search of his dog, Spot.

And this thing looks like a velvet oil painting brought to life.

Like Anderson’s 2009 Fantastic Mr. Fox, this is an animated feature produced by Indian Paintbrush. There are certainly similarities in style between the two productions, but Isle of Dogs seems far more alien and unnervingly surreal. It seems as if the main human character speaks in Japanese while the dogs all “speak” in English, highlighting how these two worlds don’t literally understand each other even while trying to coexist.

This is a strange one, even for Anderson. The cast features some Anderson givens, like Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, and Edward Norton, as well as a few Japanese performers as well. Even Yoko Ono is credited in the film! I for one am most curious about how language is going to play out in the story, and how it might underline the difference between two groups at odds with one another – but it’s too early to say if this overwhelmingly white American cast in a film set in Japan, with characters that are primarily portraying dogs – will have anything original to say.

What a weird sentence that was.

Here’s hoping for something great.

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