The feeling of the oncoming 2018 Glasgow Film Festival is in the air as we enter the GFT on an unusual sunny February morning. Seated, we’re welcomed, and thanks is given to Fox’s representative for a screener of Wes Anderson’s tenth feature – Isle of Dogs.
Twenty years in the future, a dog-ridden dystopia sits off the coast of Megasaki City, a fictional dwelling in an alternate Japan. Its residents – fever-ridden mutts banished by Megasaki’s ruthless leader, Mayor Kobayashi, over public fear of canine orientated Snout Fever.
Roaming and rummaging the baron wastes of this island are a pack of forgotten dogs – Chief (Bryan Cranston), Rex (Edward Norton), Boss (Bill Murray), Duke (Jeff Goldblum) and King (Bob Balaban). After the crash-landing of the mayor’s long-lost nephew, Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin), the pack of wily mutts discover the adventurous boy is on a rescue mission to find his best friend Spots (Liev Schrieber) and aid him in his journey across the island.
Meanwhile, in Megasaki City, Mayor Kobayashi continues his plans to wipe out the islands dog population, finally giving the canine’s natural enemy, cats, natural rule over the title of Man’s Best Friend. To counter this unnatural banishment, a pro-dog student group led by American exchange student Tracy (Greta Gerwig), are making plans to bring down their city’s dictator.
There’s always a nervous anticipation before the release of a Wes Anderson melodrama – “I wonder how many sideways cuts there’ll be? Who will look out to sea with an oh so melancholic expression? Which flatly delivered single piece of heart-wrenching dialogue will I sigh at this time?”. It’s no stretch to say that the main criticism of Anderson’s previous films is their overaggressive sentimentality. Well, critics of his will be interested to learn Isle of Dogs finest strength is its surprisingly rough edges – the savaged ears, the stinking rotten garbage, the trash compactors, the heartlessness towards our beloved hairy friends all fill the screen and are a welcome disconnection from the smaltz of Moonrise Kingdom and The Royal Tenanbaums.
After the arguable success of Fantastic Mr. Fox, director Wes Anderson has another go at the stop-motion medium, albeit this time on a larger scale. The minute detail that goes into every single blink of an eye is his devotion to industriousness, our main characters and trash island itself shown in an extravagantly detailed yet subtle fashion. Pair this with the various nods to Japanese cinema, alongside a driving, pounding, full steam ahead score and Anderson has found a worthy successor to his debut stop-motion animation.
The Glasgow Film Festival 2018 events are available here.