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:

COVID-19, or Coronavirus, has started to make its rounds in the United States. As of Tuesday, Mar. 17, three residents in North Dakota, 11 in South Dakota, and over 60 in Minnesota have been confirmed to have the disease. The…

by Sonja ThompsonDebra Ruh is the CEO and Founder of Ruh Global IMPACT, a consulting firm that strives to help clients amplify their impact and become disability inclusion leaders. She also serves as the Chair of the United…

Best Bets

Ladies Ag Night

by HPR Staff

Thursday, March 19, 4:30- 8 pm1609 19th Ave N, FargoCass County Soil Conservation District is hosting their annual Ladies’ Ag Night supper event. This event has a goal of bringing together multiple generations of women involved…

by Sofia Makarova and Massimo Sassi The global pandemic is an incredibly challenging time for many. Nearlyone in every three Americans’ jobs have been affected, whether a temporary layoff, a permanent job loss, or a reduction in…

Democratic Socialism Rescues Disaster Capitalism—AgainOur elected representatives are currently appropriating trillions of taxpayer’s dollars to save our economy from the ravages of COVID-19 and disaster capitalism. Here we go…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

It goes without saying that Valentine’s Day is the most profitable of all the holidays and the one with the most tortured history, literally. It is confusing how an ancient Roman festival that involved sacrificing animals and…

Fargo obviously loves their classical music. Audiences have still turned out during the 2019-2020 season of the Sanford Masterworks Series performed by the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra despite an unrelenting winter. That…

The most compelling and powerful idea in Kitty Green’s compelling and powerful film “The Assistant” resides in the network of complicity protecting the predator/stand-in for Harvey Weinstein and those like him. Green…

This weekend, the 10th Annual Unglued Craft Fest will be held at the Plains Art Museum, featuring over 70 local and regional artists selling handmade items. Though most are Fargo-Moorhead residents, artists from Minneapolis, Sioux…

Theatre

Fargo Film Festival 2020

by HPR Contributor

by Dominic EricksonThis March, the Fargo Film Festival will celebrate its 20th year of entertaining die-hard cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike. The festival begins on March 17 and concludes March 21. The event is once again…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

by Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comFar North Spirits, located up in Hallock, MN, is the northernmost distillery in the lower 48. They may be young in the distillery world but the farm and the spirit reach far into the past.…

Wellness

Discover Yoga Differently

by HPR Contributor

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

#14 of On Tyranny: Establish a private life. – “Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware on a regular basis. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using…