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Playing at the film club: Throne of Blood (Kurosawa, 1957)

Wes Anderson's 'Isle of Dogs' and Akira Kurosawa

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    Vili Maunula

    As I’ve been working to put together next year’s film club schedule, I’m watching some films that might or might not be worth taking a look at together. One such film that intrigued me quite a bit was Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs which came out earlier this year. During production and at the time of release, many articles mentioned how deeply the film was indebted to Kurosawa: see e.g. here, here and here.

    I watched the film some weeks ago and I must say that it left me scratching my head. On the one hand, the promised references to Kurosawa seemed very superficial, and the little there is appears to be almost entirely visual and auditory. The visual references are quite strenuous and not that interesting. As for sound design, they borrow some music from Seven Samurai and Drunken Angel and perhaps some sound effects here and there, but that’s as far as I can see (or hear).

    Meanwhile, in terms of message and intent, I not only couldn’t really see much of a Kurosawa connection, but even without those expectations the story felt extremely flat and uninteresting. Like a concept idea still in search of a story.

    On the positive side, I really liked the animation in Isle of Dogs — the dogs’ eyes in particular are amazingly expressive — and some references were admittedly funny. But those didn’t carry the 97 minute runtime for me. And so, we won’t be watching this one together.

    I wonder if I just didn’t get the film. It wouldn’t be the first time with Wes Anderson. Somehow I get excited about his works but I’m always left disappointed by them. Every single time. But I know many people absolutely love his work.

    Has anyone else here seen the film? Was your response to it different from mine?

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    Fortinbras

    I watched the film at the cinema. I actually hadn’t read about any Kurosawa connections and I can’t say I remember any. That being said, I didn’t watch the whole film, as I fell asleep towards the end….
    I can’t seem to get his films properly either. Although they are often visually interesting.
    I rate the films on IMDB, and I can see that I’ve seen 9 of his films, and only The Grand Budapest Hotel and Fantastic Mr. Fox I’ve rated 7/10, the rest from 3-6.

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    Ugetsu

    I haven’t seen Isle of Dogs, but I’ve been mostly left cold by the Wes Anderson films I’ve seen. They always seem to me to be kind of smart in an art-school sort of way, but more made to impress people who get the cultural references rather than having any real intrinsic interest.

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