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"Isle of Dogs," reviewed



Our hero dogs come across probably more just as American. Near the beginning of the film, they take on another pack of dogs over a found cache of foodstuffs. This pack are all homogenous, i.e., "Asian," encouraging the sense of our pack, composed of differentiated, visually distinct dogs, as Yankee. And our pack, wins. I didn't find this particularly generous. And in that it's not hard to imagine Trump satisfied with the outcome of this fight, helpful. Keep both packs full of individuals. Allow the fight to be a toss-up. We don't need to learn more being pleased by associating with scruffy alphas who as off best form as they are, can still kick your ass.

The boy in a sense is kept as "othered" in that there is nothing in the personality of the actors voicing the dogs that could in any way be seen as eager to differ and obey, as believably "dogish" -- they're Americans; they're men -- and so when the boy commands our hero, the dog "Chief," to "fetch," it felt, when he acquiesced to it, like someone obliging another's primitivism for him nevertheless still representing the best of the lot of a culture still unable to recognize true signs of actualized personhood -- what they're innocently still struggling towards -- when they see it. I personally edited out the part of him actually enjoying doing so, and him enjoying the dog-biscuit he was granted afterwards -- his granting it as his new favourite meal -- for it seeming to be the film-maker having us oblige something as natural, as, "well, of course," so that we can be with him when we stipulate the film is about dogs rather than simply victims... about cultural betters, more-or-less adults, composited as dogs. I felt like I was being lured into a world of false consciousness.

The boy and the dogs are a wedge, though, into a Japan that in all of its union, may or may not be capable of withstanding the young Jane Fonda, planted amongst them. She begins to implode onto them; they take the impact, the reprimand, the humiliation, of seeing what the power of fury and undeterred personality can do to an acquiesced group of people; but when the dogs and the boy reach back into town, she's already admitted to herself a crush on the hero boy -- showed a sense of backing-off, a need to cover up, a sense of being compromised -- that gives the boy in this instance the edge, which he uses simply to institute his own rule over the island... the rest of the film. She too knows the second-player status the female dogs in the film have known, but only once the Americans and their adopted son are ready to make their appearance. Now she nips back, a bit shriven, maybe, in recognizing his divinity, granting our new sovereign, our lead, assured "respecto."


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