I’ve been finding it a bit difficult to look forward to Wes Anderson’s upcoming animated film Isle of Dogs.
That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed Anderson’s work to date. Since my eighth grade discovery of Wes via The Royal Tenenbaums, his work has proved consistently–better yet, increasingly–exciting and affecting; his most recent delivery, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is far and away my favorite of his movies; that was no easy superlative to win, given how much entries like Tenenbaums, Rushmore, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and even the oft maligned Life Aquatic have meant to me.And it’s certainly not to say that I’m not into the subject matter. I love dogs. All dogs. Probably too much.
So what keeps me from the heights of optimism is apprehension over what happens when you mix these two things together. As many fans have noted, Wes Anderson has a nasty little habit of killing the pooches that show up in his pictures. He offed Buckley the beagle at the end of Tenenbaums and gave Snoopy the fox terrier the axe midway through Moonrise Kingdom. He left mutt Cody for dead in Life Aquatic, and at the very least rendered comatose the varied guard dogs of Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Naturally, I’m worried about Isle of Dogs. But while I can’t know for sure how merciful Anderson will be in this next outing, its gorgeous, surreal, and moody poster does get me a bit excited for the film.
Part of my excitement comes from the cast. Granted, we already knew about Bryan Cranston and Anderson vets like Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, and Edward Norton; on top of that, the director’s penchant for rounding up the usual suspects should leave us unsurprised to see names like Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Frances McDormand, F. Murray Abraham, and Fisher Stevens. But toss in superstar Scarlett Johansson, everywhere-these-days figures like Greta Gerwig and Courtney B. Vance, the great Liev Schreiber, and freakin’ Yoko Ono, and interest skyrockets.
I should acknowledge similar excitement for the few less familiar names on this cast list (the Akira Ito in this film is not the renowned manga artist whom you might have heard of), considering how adeptly Anderson films have used newcomers in the past. Highlights among this tradition: the young stars of Moonrise Kingdom, and Bottle Rocket and The Royal Tenenbaum‘s Kumar Pallana, who was entirely unknown before joining forces with Wes.
When you combine these pluses with the poster’s distinctly Andersonian (read: weird, moody, and deceptively simplistic) artwork, you get something that I can’t help but look forward to. Granted, we don’t know much in the way of what the film is about–we do know it’s about a young boy on a quest through the titular land to find his lost dog–but enchantment looms. No, my darkest fears haven’t exactly been assuaged, but this poster reminds me that it’s at least worth getting my hopes up.
Just… please, Wes. Please be kind.
Images: Fox Searchlight