Eve & I went to the movies the other night. ISLE OF DOGS was playing at the right time (7) at the right place (big screen at the Somerville Theatre), so we went. Within the first five minutes I remembered why I really don’t like Wes Anderson – there were no female characters. The only dogs fighting over food were male. Because a female dog would never fight over food, right? They are far too ladylike for that, no matter how hungry. Then a female dog showed up, placed high on a pedestal (well, a pile of trash, but still), and a male dog mentioned something about her sex life. Another dog immediately crushed on her.
To Wes Anderson, women, be they human or dog, are mothers. Sometimes they are vague objects of desire, but even then they are desirable because of their mothering talents, be they birthing puppies or taking care of childish men. In THE ROYAL TENNENBAUMS, Margot sort of escapes this, although her brother Richie does seem pretty immature around her. Her personality is expressed through three props: a wooden finger, a secret cigarette, and a fur coat. Fascinating, no?
So throughout the film, I was annoyed about the ladies. I was also annoyed about the focus. The projectionist at the Somerville prefers film to digital, and goes out of his way to make digital look bad, which is a real shame. I complained to the staff in the lobby, but it didn’t improve. Still, it was nice to be in the big house at the Somerville, which is the original cavernous theatre with beautiful paint and plasterwork. And I had a large plastic cup full of delish cider, so it wasn’t a total wash.
ISLE OF DOGS takes place in Japan. The human characters speak Japanese, and are voiced by Japanese people, except for the real-time translators, who, of course, are speaking English. The dogs speak English with American accents thanks to the likes of Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, and Greta Gerwig.
Why does it happen in Japan? Well, Wes Anderson fans will note that Japan is probably WA’s favorite country. Everything there is deeply steeped in aesthetics, formality, and understated emotion. Basically, life there appears to us to be a Wes Anderson film. Cultural appropriation? Certainly, but the fact that Anderson gets away with being so infantile when it comes to women due to his twee stories and visually appealing scenarios, makes me more angry than his Japanese setting.
I love RUSHMORE. I was pretty into his other films, but his inability to grow is becoming very annoying. This movie lacked anything that could charm me away from his issues with women – they were just too in the way.