Is this tail-wagging film an allegory for what’s happening in our world right now?
From Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and his pup to Queen Elizabeth II’s stubby-legged corgis or Barack Obama’s DOTUS (that’s Dog of the United States to us), it seems that we just can’t help but get the warm and fuzzies when it comes to Fidos.
But it’s a dog eat dog world out there, and that certainly seems to be the case with upcoming film Isle of Dogs, set for release on 10th May.
Directed by Wes Anderson in painstaking stop-motion, the film is set in fictional city Megasaki, Japan, some 20 years in the future. When the city’s pooches are struck down with dog flu, cat-loving mayor Kobayashi launches a corrupt campaign to exile all of them to a place called Trash Island, despite the existence of a cure.
It doesn’t take Kobayashi’s orphaned nephew long, however, to realise that his beloved Spots has also been shipped off to the no-mans-land. Commandeering a plane, he sets off to Trash Island in search of him. After crash landing, he meets a pack of lost dogs who make it their mission to help him find his best friend.
With Fox Searchlight, the film’s distribution company, partnering with US-based Best Friends Animal Shelter pledging to match each upcoming adoption with a $25 (AED 92) donation to support homeless animals, you could be forgiven for thinking this movie is all fluff.
But while the touching story offers plenty in terms of warm platitudes for younger audiences to take on board, don’t be fooled: This movie has some bite behind its bark when it comes to how we treat our fellow humans, says Bill Murray, who plays former mascot dog Boss.
“It wasn’t intentional to be this political,” he commented at the Berlin Film Festival. “I mean who would have thought the politics of this movie would resonate with the politics of the world, that the extremity of the Kobayashis trying to eradicate dogs would be such an allegory of what’s happening on the planet, in my country?”
He’s not the only cast member to feel that way. Bryan Cranston, who plays loner dog Chief, points out that with the current political situation in the US, the movie can represent a metaphor for the underdogs in our society.
“They get treated like garbage,” he noted. “This is a story of disenfranchised dogs, but that is also a very real experience for human beings in every country and walk of life. There are disenfranchised people, the throwaways. And the demagoguery of fear, the kind that leads all the dogs of Megasaki City to be put on an island to fend for themselves, is something humans are dealing with as well.”
And while the subject of immigration has reached a climactic crescendo recently, for Jeff Goldblum, who plays gossipy mountain-dog Duke, the fact that the conversation is being had at all is something that gives him hope: “This movie, although addressing evergreen ideas, turns out to be particularly ripped from the headlines now,” he said at the premiere. “I hope that a story like this, so beautifully told and so entertainingly told, could move the ball forward in our real world.”
Also starring: Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Scarlett Johansson, Bob Balaban and
Running time: 105 mins
Life of the Party (15+)
When her husband leaves her, middle-aged housewife Deanna decides to turn her life around by going back to college. When she ends up at the same university as her daughter, she’s determined to make the most of her newfound freedom.
When two hitmen embark on a mission ordered by a sinister new employer, they’re only thinking of the paycheck at the end of the task. But when they meet Annie, a mysterious young woman, they begin to realise their mission might not be as straightforward as they initially thought.
Starring Karl Urban and Sofía Vergara, Bent follows former shamed detective Danny. But when he connects the dots between some high profile murders, he uncovers a conspiracy that unveils corruption across the national spy agency.
WORDS Camille Hogg