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Wes Anderson's 'Isle of Dogs' gets poster and release date

Edited by GreenReaper as of Sun 30 Apr 2017 - 11:45
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C-RwcEaUIAAKuiu_0.jpgWes Anderson, the writer/director best known in the furry fandom for his 2009 movie Fantastic Mr. Fox, will be returning to the stop-motion talking animal genre for his next movie Isle of Dogs, whose poster and release date (of April 20, 2018) was announced via Twitter on April 25.

The bare bones premise announced so far is that the movie will feature a Japanese boy searching for his lost dog. Though this premise isn't necessarily anthropomorphic, an earlier video posted by Anderson confirmed the dogs will have speaking roles. Though hard to make out, it has also been pointed out that some of the dog characters on the poster also appear to be wearing clothes.

The cast for the movie, listed on the poster, has been previously confirmed. It includes many recurring actors in Anderson's movies. Newcomers include Bryan Cranston and Scarlett Johansson, as well as multiple Japanese actors, including Yoko Ono.

Isle of Dogs will be Anderson's ninth feature, and only his second animated feature, after Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was nominated for an Ursa Major award as well as an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. In addition to the Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination, Anderson has been personally nominated three times for Best Original Screenplay and once for Best Director at the Oscars. All but the latest of his movies have also been added to the prestigious Criterion Collection, and his film Rushmore was added to the National Film Registry last year.

His last feature, The Grand Budapest Hotel, was his first to be nominated for Best Picture at the awards, with nine additional nominations and four wins (though none for Anderson personally). The Grand Budapest Hotel also featured an early in the year release date; however, it had the advantage of being live action. Still, Isle of Dogs is yet another possibility to become the fourth animated Best Picture nominee.


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The Twitter shoutout's making me blush, guys.

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That was me, you're welcome

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Aha! April 20 is Adolf Hitler's birthday! This is obviously proof that the Furry Raiders are controlling this film!

Fred Patten

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You sure it's not the Burned Furs?

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It could be the Illuminati for all that I know.

Fred Patten

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Well, it sure ain't his Oscar campaign adviser.

"Okay, Wes, your last movie went over really well, despite the April release date. You've got momentum, we must capitalize on this. Can we change the date it for your next release, get a real Oscar corridor release, maybe even go all the way with a Best Picture?"

"No, stick to April, also, my next movie is a cartoon about talking dogs."

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Purist: "Agghhh! AN ANIMATED MOVIE IS NOT NECESSARILY A CARTOON. Stop-motion animation is not cartoon animation."

Campaign advisor: "Yeah, yeah. Well, to the public, it's all cartoons. And the Academy's Oscar voters don't bother to watch 'em; they just vote automatically for whatever Disney put out this year."

Fred Patten

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When they publish anonymous interviews with Academy voters, they usually tend to abstain from the category. Those that actually vote, at least in the interviews, don't seem to have a Disney bias. I don't think I saw one this year from anyone for either Zootopia or Moana; based on the admittedly pretty small and pretty random sampling, The Red Turtle was a genuine contender. I'm assuming those interviewed were L.A. Academy members; I would not be surprised if they're more informed (they would be more likely to actually get to see the smaller movies).

The only year where Disney beat a movie that it really had no business beating was Big Hero 6 over How to Train Your Dragon 2 (and, of course, the un-nominated The LEGO Movie); Brave would count as Disney via Pixar, if you ignored the fact that it had no business beating, well, anything, but the most deserving movie nominated that year was Disney via Disney's Wreck-It Ralph (a close second to the unnominated Madagascar 3, of course).

Disney wins twice and everybody loses their minds, never mind Pixar had a deathgrip on the category for over a decade, which nobody complains about except to complain about Disney winning. And can I just rudely interrupt myself to point out, holy crap, Cars sucks, doesn't it?

I think the funniest part about Zootopia versus Kubo and the Two Strings Oscar battle is that, while Kubo played the underdog thing late in the game, going into the season, it was definitely the overdog of the two. Smart money was on Moana or Finding Dory being the big Disney players, with Zootopia's extremely early release date meaning it would be forgotten and not even nominated, while LAIKA, though still an underdog to win, has literally never had a movie not nominated in the category. Then, of course, Zootopia became the overdog by, you know, earning it; honestly think if Zootopia wasn't there, Kubo totally could've taken Moana.

I'd also like to point out that I knew Finding Dory was not going to the Oscars. Barring Toy Story 3, which was a special case (the first two came out before there was a category), the Academy will not nominate a Pixar sequel. They'll nominate DreamWorks sequels and even Illumination sequels (and in fact, only Illumination sequels), but it's like they're almost saying "you're too good for this, Pixar."

As for the actual movies, the best part about Kubo, a non-musical movie, was a song; the best song in Moana, a movie musical, was the one that used the fact that the the Rock can't sing for comedic effect (rudely interrupting again to say Lin Manuel Miranda can suck it); and I was retired (like Hayao Miyazaki, it turns out) when the latest Pixar thing I can't stand came out, and actually haven't even seen the entire Finding Nemo, so Dory can just go find herself, and if it was up to me, I'd go with the furry world trifecta of Kung Fu Panda 3, Sing and Zootopia along with the two little movies (whatever complaints you have about the category as voted on by the whole Academy, the smaller group nominating do a bang up job of mixing up big hits with cool finds) for the nominees, but that's just me.

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As probably the only person here who preferred Fantastic Mr Fox to Zootopia, I'm looking forward to this.

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I voted for “Fantastic Mr. Fox” over “Avatar”. It’s certainly more “furry” (and I feel that it was robbed in that year’s Ursa Major Award). But over “Zootopia”? No, although this is more a matter of personal taste. They’re both strong furry movies. I just preferred “Zootopia”, both in its CGI vs. stop-motion and in its story.

Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” stop-motion animation is definitely much better than Tobias Picker’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” grand opera, although less for the media that it’s in than for the way its story is adapted. (The movie story is by Anderson & Noah Baumbach; the opera story by Donald Sturrock. I had this problem with Roald Dahl’s original novel, though to a lesser degree.) I feel that Picker’s music is horrible, and Sturrock’s version of Dahl’s story is an insult to the viewer’s intelligence. In fact, I sat through its premiere in 1998, and I’m still irate over it nineteen years later!

My opinion is on record; for “Yarf!” at the time. I said:

“Talking-animal comic books and animated cartoons are common. Literature featuring talking animals is more common than one might expect, even excluding children’s books. But operas? Name three. There is Janácek’s "The Cunning Little Vixen", and—well, there is "The Cunning Little Vixen".

   Now there is Tobias Picker’s "Fantastic Mr. Fox", an operatic dramatization of Roald Dahl’s popular children’s classic. Or is there? "Fantastic Mr. Fox" was commissioned to be the Los Angeles Opera company’s first World Premiere. It played at the Los Angeles Music Center during December 9-22, 1998. But has it appeared anywhere since then? The Internet still has lots of articles about its 1998 Los Angeles premiere, but there is no mention of any subsequent productions anywhere. This is not surprising, since almost all the reviews of its premiere were negative. Too bad if you missed it, but at least you didn’t miss much. [There have now been a couple of productions around the world.]

   Gerald Scarfe’s costumes and sets were the main attraction, and they are marvelous. Everything is bright and Modern Art. The tone is surrealistic rather than naturalistic. Mr. Fox is an electric blue, looking like an ice sculpture, while Miss Hedgehog is bright green, resembling a pile of lawn-mower clippings. That may sound sarcastic, but Scarfe makes it work surprisingly well. The effect is like a smooth blend between a semi-abstract posh art gallery and a gaudy circus sideshow, or a preschool/nursery whose interior decorator ran wild with a manic genius. Despite its flaws, "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is definitely a treat for the eyes.

   Donald Sturrock’s libretto is also in general an asset. It is witty, amusing, and is consistently lively whether you agree with its philosophy or not. Audiences will not be bored.

   But operas live or die by their music. The least popular aspect of this one, according to virtually all the reviews, was Picker’s modern atonal music. It was not merely dismissed, it was reviled as lacking recognizable melodies and as much too sophisticated for what was presented as a ‘family’ (e.g., suitable for children) opera. Despite the claim in L. A. Opera’s program notes that, “'Fantastic Mr. Fox" is a tuneful, singable opera,” and “There is no recitative in the opera,” it sounded to me like practically all recitative with a musical background, and no tunes or songs at all—just some recitatives that are more structured and with a stronger melodic background than others.

   The basic failure, however, is that "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is irritatingly affected and pretentious. It seems to concentrate upon the most self-consciously Intellectual aspects of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel and emphasize them. This permeates the wit and imagination of the costuming and the dialogue, to result in something like Andersen’s description of the Snow Queen: “She was beautiful but all made of ice.” Either the opera’s heart is frozen, or it has no heart; take your choice.

   It does have pretention, though. Donald Sturrock’s four-page explication of Dahl’s story contains such statements as:

   "It’s a morality tale and, like most great morality tales, it’s timeless …

   "Like many good tales, it can be expressed very simply. A family of foxes is attacked by a trio of grotesque farmers—Boggis, Bunce, and Bean—who resent them stealing chickens and geese from their farms. They try to starve the foxes out of the hole. They fail. The foxes escape and, aided by their animal friends, take an amusing and ironic revenge on their human opponents, burrowing into the farmyards while the farmers are away and making mayhem in their farmyards.

   "The three grotesque farmers—Boggis, Bunce, and Bean—are revolting. They embody the vices of greed, vanity, and avarice. They employ violent machines—guns, tractors, and diggers—to attack the foxes and their friends. They bicker and fight among themselves. […] The animals, on the other hand, are heroic: loyal, intelligent, resourceful, and joyful."

   As a morality tale, "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is very similar to Walt Disney’s "Bambi". All the animals are loving brothers and Evil Man is the only predator. The all-good animals and the all-stupid/evil humans might have worked if "Fantastic Mr. Fox" was presented as a comic farce; as a Gilbert-&-Sullivanesque parody of the Disney Morality. As a seriously intellectual moral tale itself, it is too obviously one-sided and biased. The animals can do no wrong, while the humans can do no good.

   By the plot’s own admission, the humans have absolutely no interest in the animals until the foxes begin raiding their farms. The farmers’ ‘resentment’ of this is portrayed as ‘evil’. Their attempts to drive off or kill the foxes is presented as malicious aggression, for which the foxes have a right to take ‘revenge’.

   Many details undercut this moral message. Mr. Fox may be a loving husband and father, while the farmers are all completely selfish; and the foxes may be witty, cultured, dignified and stylish dressers while the farmers are filthy slobs. But they are all equally greedy for as many chickens and geese as they can chow down. Where is the moral high road between Mr. Fox’s supercilious self-conceit over his cleverness and the three farmers’ sneering, sneaky plots to kill him? Mr. Fox’s change of personality, his ‘learning humility’ by getting his tail shot off, comes across as contrived and unconvincing.

   The farmers are repeatedly said to raise the fattest, plumpest chickens and geese in the Valley. By implication they are capable and self-sufficient. But the animals are shown as too humanized and intelligent (Rita the Rat wears a college cap & gown and quotes Spinoza) to be innocent woodland creatures. When Mr. Fox says that foxes have a right to steal humans’ chickens, it sounds like boasting that it’s okay to steal when you are handsome and clever and your victims are ugly and stupid. The major difference between this and Disney’s "Bambi", is that in "Bambi" all the animals are frightened of Man, while in "Fantastic Mr. Fox", they consider Man’s farms to be a handy restaurant where they can always feast and then skip out without paying the bill.

   The climax is a classic example of the program notes saying one thing while the action shows something else. The farmers have found the entrance to the foxes’ den and try digging them up with earthmoving equipment. The foxes dig themselves a back exit. While the farmers hover over the front hole, the foxes dash to the unguarded farms and easily carry off the remaining chickens and geese. How is this a ‘clever … and potentially hazardous raid’? When Boggis and Bunce find their farms completely looted, they swear they will not restock until the foxes are all dead. The farmers return with their guns to the front hole and, ‘For all anyone knows, they’re still there to this very day.’ Meanwhile, the foxes have so many chickens that they invite all their friends to the feast (Miss Hedgehog, Rita the Rat, etc.) Mr. Fox musically declaims that he has learned his lesson. He has been wrong to make himself and his family so dependent upon Man. They will return to the forest to live with Nature. All the animals cheer this Environmentally Correct decision.

   Morality? It is plain that Mr. Fox’s noble decision to abandon Man’s farms comes only after there are no chickens or geese left. Also, since the foxes have just strongly implied that they are about to resume eating the forest animals, the animals’ cheering this decision makes another Disney comparison obvious: the Circle of Life opening of "The Lion King", where all the prey animals are cheering the birth of another predator. Further, the emphasis on Mr. Fox’s constantly eating the chickens and geese (which appear in several scenes, comically dashing about the farmyard in panic trying to escape Mr. Fox), makes his role as the exemplar of the natural kindness and generosity of all animals to each other look hypocritical, to say the least.

   The opera and its program notes both constantly hammer the point of what a clever morality tale it is. But considered as a morality tale, "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is condescending, preachy, self-serving, and full of contradictions. Picker’s atonal music guarantees that it will never join such popular fantasy favorites as Mozart’s "The Magic Flute" or Humperdinck’s "Hansel and Gretel" as melodic fare for the Classical Radio stations. It is a shame that Scarfe’s costumes and sets will not have much chance to be seen, but c’est l’opera."

[My apologies for going on for so long, but as I said, I sat through this nineteen years ago and I'm still steaming. If you ever get a chance to see this, don't!] 

Fred Patten

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If you ever get a chance to see this, don't!

Damn, that's a good line!

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I thought Zootopia was merely very well made and entertaining. Polish is respectable but not my favorite quality. It's nice to see dirt and fingerprints in the frame.

Mr. Fox was a special movie that only comes along once in a while. I especially loved it in contrast to how much I don't like live action Wes Anderson movies. They do nothing for me, I'm fine with indulgent but not contrived and his human actors feel like puppets. Frame-by-frame control of actual puppets suits him so well.

I'd love to talk up how I got drinks with the art director one time, except he only said stuff you can probably see in the special features. But if I recall right, he said something about how Wes was hard to work with because of coming to animation as an outsider and straining the system with atypical direction wants, like building a ceiling set and filming it on it's side. He could get away with it by being who he is. That's why it's not an ordinary movie.

Can't wait for this one!

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Early reviews from the Berlinale Film Festival are very positive.

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