ISLE OF DOGS (2018)

Mad, much-loved writer and director Wes Anderson has returned to stop-motion animation for the first time since Fantastic Mr Fox (2009). The result is a gob-smackingly stylish, idiosyncratic, mythic tale about a young boy and his dog, and how they work together to bring down an expressly evil, anti-dog, dystopian government in anti-futuristic Japan.

Every frame is a work of art; beautifully and perfectionistically framed, often exploiting intense, exact symmetry with faces to camera. Stop-motion animation is rare enough, being an extremely expensive and time-consuming medium, but stop-motion in high definition and anamorphic widescreen even more so. Anderson wants you to see how hard he’s worked.

The core story, on the other hand, is unbelievably silly; with talking animals, robot killers, teenage computer hackers, and an evil mayor villain with glowing eyes who blows steam out of his ears. Like his award-winning The Grand Budapest Hotel (2015), an all-star voice cast treats the script of this insane, Japano-canine romp with the seriousness of Shakespeare.

Anderson appropriates Japanese film, art, language and culture to a point that borders on exploitative; the goal is to exoticise a cartoonish Japan that never really was. It’s set in a future where in-ear translation devices allow humans and dogs to communicate freely, but people watch the news on tiny, 1960s-style black-and-white TV sets, and laboratory scientists receive results on typewriter-printed punchcards. Overall, probably a work of genius.

Out in cinemas everywhere now.

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