Tracker Pixel for Entry

Anderson Comments on Resistance in Controversial “Isle of Dogs”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | April 4th, 2018

Wes Anderson returns to animation with “Isle of Dogs,” a showcase of expectedly eye-popping production design and art direction that partially obscures a pricklier, flintier corner of the world than the one adapted from Roald Dahl’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” in 2009. Writing the screenplay from a story credited to himself, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, and Konichi Nomura (who also performs in the film as Mayor Kobayashi), the particular auteur embarks on an often melancholy dystopian odyssey set in a hyper-stylized near future in which an infectious “dog flu and snout fever” epidemic sees the entire pooch population of a fictionalized Japan quarantined on the grim Trash Island.

Predictably paying wall-to-wall auditory and visual homage to influential cinematic heroes (both Japanese and non-Japanese), Anderson doesn’t achieve the masterful emotional storytelling of Vittorio De Sica’s “Umberto D.” (for my money the greatest dog movie ever made), but anyone who has ever stared into the soulful eyes of a loyal hound will cheer the mission of protagonist Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin), a boy determined to reunite with his best friend Spots (Liev Schreiber), the very first pup to be banished. Aided by a pack of four-legged exiles, Atari’s quest is merely the pretext for Anderson’s latest manifesto on the politics of resistance and rebellion.

Concerns, critiques, and misgivings about Anderson’s potential for cultural appropriation/insensitivity have driven an online conversation about “Isle of Dogs” that exists independently of many of the frontline reviews. Perhaps the key example, and certainly the one that most effectively articulates a real value question, is provided by Justin Chang in his insightful “L.A. Times” essay. Following an explanation of Anderson’s deliberate choice to provide the canines with the voices of recognizable American stars while withholding subtitles for the humans who speak Japanese, Chang writes, in part, “...all these coy linguistic layers amount to their own form of marginalization, effectively reducing the hapless, unsuspecting people of Megasaki to foreigners in their own city.” For what it’s worth, Chang has since distanced himself from the way in which this portion of his thorough and nuanced assessment has been isolated as a “battle cry.”

Additionally, Emily Yoshida extends the no-subtitle conversation in an intriguing anecdotal survey summarized for “Vulture” with the explanatory lead “What It’s Like to Watch ‘Isle of Dogs’ as a Japanese Speaker.” Like Chang, Yoshida stops short of full condemnation, placing the movie’s narrative and design flourishes in a category she describes as a “kind of opportunism,” resulting in a “Heightened essence of the Japanese culture as filtered through a Western understanding.” Beyond the pair of reactions cited above, many critics have tagged American exchange student Tracy Walker (Greta Gerwig) as a white savior, while others have remarked on the function of Frances McDormand’s Interpreter Nelson.

And despite the inclusion of Scarlett Johansson (more or less inhabiting the Felicity Fox role of coolheaded wisdom-imparter), Yoko Ono, Kara Hayward, and a scene-stealing Tilda Swinton, Anderson once again identifies most closely with the conversation-dominating male participants. No females belong to the central group of mutts made up of Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray), and Duke (Jeff Goldblum) -- the last four Anderson regulars -- and that gender-divided reality is at least as awkward and problematic as any overt or covert stereotypes.

"Isle of Dogs" is currently playing in Minneapolis and will open at the Fargo Theatre on April 13.

Recently in:

BISMARCK– The debate over whether the state needs an ethics commission has been ongoing for years, four times defeated by the legislature. This year, however, concerned citizens turned to the power of the initiated measure, and…

There will be a rocking event on coming this Thursday called Night Bazaar by Folkways. Night Bazaar is an event highlighting the community with a full spectrum of unique experiences, food, music, art and performances. Night Bazaar…

Thursday, August 23, 5-6:30 p.m.Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave. NDr. Craig Howe, Director of the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies (CAIRNS), will lead an art and poetry workshop in conjunction with the…

On August 14, The Bismarck Tribune reported that “A popular insecticide could be banned for agricultural use.” Popular as it may be I can think of a whole slew of adjectives that would be more appropriate like questionable,…

Well, Mr. President, Have You No Sense Of Decency Sir, At Long Last?We might have another flag debate in this country. We still see the Confederate symbol flying in activities promoted by white supremacists on the streets of…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

By Ben Myhre benmyhre35@gmail.com If you are a gardener in the area, you know that this is the time of year when zucchini becomes plentiful. In fact, many have a tough time using all of it. You may see just a small little zucchini…

Woodstock: even people who were born years after the original three-day music festival recognize the name. The event, which took place between August 15th and 18th at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in southern New York and attracted…

Elsie Fisher’s Kayla Day is the lonely but indefatigable middle-school protagonist of first-time feature filmmaker Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade,” a winning addition to the pantheon of the adolescent cinematic bildungsroman.…

It may be cliche to say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, but when wet plate artist Shane Balkowitsch found out that his 15-year-old daughter Abby Balkowitsch was following in his photography footsteps, he was…

By Stella Mehlhoffstellamehlhoff@gmail.comAs I stared out of Guthrie Theater’s Amber room at a bird’s eye of the cityscape and river below, I hardly took in the night lights, my mind was too focused on the art I had just…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

When I was first introduced to the traditional spirit of my ancestors, Akvavit (or aquavit), I never thought I’d ever find myself standing next to a giant “Viking” ship while comparing different brands of the “water of…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

Well, after nearly a dozen years of delay, it looks like Billings County is finally going to build a bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic River north of Medora. The county posted a notice in the Federal Register on October…