Films I Like: ISLE OF DOGS (2018)

ISLE OF DOGS probably works better as a silent film.

At times, with the Alexandre Desplat soundtrack and Kurosawa needle drops, the audio code-switching between English and Japanese, and the sheer abundance of visual information (seriously, Anderson is pushing visual density to near Tati levels), the film can be pretty overwhelming.

Oh, and did I mention that it is stop motion? So every frame has this almost imperceptible, tactile quality to it.

Because of this, the film can feel like sensory paralyzation. Think of being strapped to a Segway that is moving quickly through the Louvre in precise, perpendicular lines.

While a word like mawkish is often (incorrectly, IMO) used to denigrate Anderson's style, ISLE OF DOGS is the first movie of his since THE DARJEELING LIMITED (2007) where the descriptor fits. Just like he did with FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009), Anderson directs his voice actors into a place of naturalism that feel anachronistic for stop-motion animation. Unlike MR. FOX, Anderson’s dialogue in DOGS is often stilted and feels at odds with the sensory grace of his animation.

Despite this, the film is an incredible achievement. There a shots and moments that show more verve and imagination than entire sequences in other films. I mean, just look at this:

The film is so stuffed to the gills with visual information that shots like this can feel like palette cleansers.

I like ISLE OF DOGS, I just think it works best on mute.