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Isle of Dogs finds Wes Anderson barking up the wrong tree

What arises from all this – it is hard to say how consciously – is a feeling that the escape mechani..

What arises from all this – it is hard to say how consciously – is a feeling that the escape mechanism is itself a trap. Anderson's exotic backdrops may vary, but his stylistic mannerisms recur obsessively from one film to the next: always the same centred framing, the same knowing quips flatly delivered, the same straight lines that divide up the image like the bars of a cage.

The line between innocence and sophistication is a tricky one to walk – but then, Anderson's films would not have much tension without a sense that the illusion might collapse at any moment. This urgency is what is missing from Isle of Dogs, his ninth feature overall and his second experiment with stop-motion animation (following his 2008 Roald Dahl adaptation Fantastic Mr Fox).

Set 20 years in the future, the film takes place in an imaginary Japan assembled from cliches old and relatively new: woodblock prints and geishas, but also the skyscrapers and robots familiar from the last few decades of Japanese animation.

While human characters speak mostly unsubtitled Japanese, the heroes are a pack of talking dogs voiced by well-known American actors (among them Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton and Bill Murray). Accused of carrying disease, they've been separated from their masters by the tyrannical rulers of Megasaki City and exiled like all their species to an island dominated by metallic piles of trash.

Isle of Dog in cinemas on April 12.

Photo: Supplied

With its dystopian setting and stark colour scheme – mostly black, brown and grey – this is outwardly one of Anderson's bleakest films. It's also one of his dullest and least emotional: the convoluted story is too schematic, and too silly, to encourage any intense involvement.

Absent is the kind of hero found in Anderson's best films, including Fantastic Mr Fox: an unreliable but charismatic leader whose grandiose fantasies drive the story forward, and who can be taken, on some level, as a stand-in for the director.

Here, the puppets are just puppets: beautifully designed, but without the illusion of life. The five lead dogs are assigned individual traits: one is gossipy, another a defiant stray, and so forth. But they form a democratic unit as variants of a single personality, all male and all bearing jokingly macho names such as Rex and Chief (the female dogs, typically for Anderson, are romantic interests and little more).

As for the humans, the boy hero (Koyu Rankin) maintains a doll-like blankness; the Megasaki City officials gabbling Japanese into the camera are too close to racist caricatures for comfort; and the decision to make the enterprising heroine an American exchange student (voiced by Greta Gerwig) is puzzlingly tone-deaf.

Anderson has always flaunted a degree of casual racism, as part of his nostalgic embrace of the dreams of boyhood. But the jokiness here verges on bad taste, given the awareness of real-world history implicit in the concentration-camp imagery and elsewhere (a glimpse of miniature mushroom cloud is the single worst-judged moment).

As always, Anderson's cunning lies in keeping overt significance at bay while juggling multiple potential meanings. On one level, the dogs yearning for their masters are like wandering samurai out of an Akira Kurosawa film; on another, they suggest disillusioned adults who have learned that growing out of childhood dependency means trading one prison for another.

Poised between sentimentality and irony, Isle of Dogs finally leaves the impression of a disgust too intense to be permitted a full outlet (as in the work of Steven Spielberg, Anderson's spiritual elder brother). While these dogs may fancy themselves as wild animals, they remain nearly as fastidious as their creator: even as they roam a landscape of garbage, the script noticeably steers clear of bodily-function jokes.

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Jake Wilson

Jake Wilson was born in London and grew up in Melbourne. He got his start reviewing movies for various websites and has been writing for the Age since 2006.

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007 film must treat Bond girls properly, says Waller-Bridge

Fast cars, martinis and Bond girls are core parts of the formula for 007 films, but one of those ele..

Fast cars, martinis and Bond girls are core parts of the formula for 007 films, but one of those elements is set for a change in the latest adventure.

Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who is working on the script for the 25th Bond film, is on a mission to make sure the movie will "treat women properly" – even if the spy does not.

Image: Cast members (l-r): Lea Seydoux, Ana de Armas, Naomie Harris and Lashana Lynch at the launch of the new Bond film

Ahead of the release of the as-yet-untitled film, Waller-Bridge told Deadline: "There's been a lot of talk about whether or not (the Bond franchise) is relevant now because of who he is and the way he treats women.

"I think that's b*******. I think he's absolutely relevant now. It has just got to grow.

"It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly.

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"He doesn't have to. He needs to be true to this character."

Sean Connery and Mie Hama in You Only Live Twice, 1967
Image: The Bond films have been criticised for their sexism
Dr No turned Sean Connery into an international superstar
Image: Dr No featured the famous scene with Ursula Andress walking out of the sea in a white bikini

Waller-Bridge says she intends to ensure the female characters, including those played by Lashana Lynch, Lea Seydoux and Ana de Armas, feel "like real people ".

More from Phoebe Waller-bridge

She added: "I just want to make sure that when they get those pages through, that Lashana, Lea and Ana open them and go, 'I can't wait to do that'.

"As an actrRead More – Source (more…)

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Sir Elton hits out at Russia for ‘cruel’ Rocketman censorship

Sir Elton John has criticised Russian censors for cutting gay sex scenes from the hit musical biopic..

Sir Elton John has criticised Russian censors for cutting gay sex scenes from the hit musical biopic Rocketman.

The critically acclaimed film charts the British singer's rise to fame, and its scenes of kissing and sex between men, as well as drug use, contributed to it earning a 15 certificate in the UK.

But in a bid to play down the sexuality of Sir Elton, played by actor Taron Egerton, for a conservative Russian audience, an estimated five minutes of footage was reportedly removed ahead of its debut in Moscow.

Taron Egerton on Sir Elton: 'I adore him'

The Moscow Times quoted a Russian film critic who had seen the film at its world premiere in Cannes on 16 May as saying "all scenes with kissing, sex and oral sex between men have been cut", as well as a photo displayed during the end credits featuring Sir Elton and his husband David Furnish.

Sir Elton, 72, a prominent gay rights campaigner, released a joint statement with the makers of the film to accuse censors of being "cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people".

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"We reject in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor Rocketman for the Russian market, a move we were unaware of until today," they said.

"That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended, is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people.

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"We believe in building bridges and open dialogue, and will continue to pushRead More – Source

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Ben Affleck steps out to drop off kids as Robert Pattinson is announced as new Batman

Ben Affleck played Batman until earlier this year (Picture: Backgrid)
Ben Affleck has been pictured ..

Ben Affleck played Batman until earlier this year (Picture: Backgrid)

Ben Affleck has been pictured performing his parental duties in Los Angeles, as his official replacement in the Batman role is announced.

The 46-year-old actor was seen in the early hours on Friday (31 May) dropping off son Samuel, seven, and daughter Seraphina, 10, to school.

Affleck has three children with ex-wife Jennifer Garner – Seraphina, Samuel and 13-year-old Violet.

On the same day the actor was pictured, it was announced Robert Pattinson will take over as Batman in a planned trilogy of movies with director Matt Reeves.

Brentwood, CA - Ben Affleck was on daddy duty this morning in Brentwood ahead of the weekend. Pictured: Ben Affleck, Seraphina Rose Elizabeth Affleck, Samuel Garner Affleck BACKGRID USA 31 MAY 2019 BYLINE MUST READ: Boaz / BACKGRID USA: +1 310 798 9111 / usasales@backgrid.com UK: +44 208 344 2007 / uksales@backgrid.com *UK Clients - Pictures Containing Children Please Pixelate Face Prior To Publication*
Ben Affleck was on parent duties (Picture: Backgrid)

Affleck, who played Bruce Wayne in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and 2017s Justice League, stepped down from the role in January earlier this year – after being originally down to direct and star in his own film.

More: Ben Affleck

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Speaking about his departure in March, Affleck stated how he was never happy with the script they were planning to use.

Brentwood, CA - Ben Affleck was on daddy duty this morning in Brentwood ahead of the weekend. Pictured: Ben Affleck BACKGRID USA 31 MAY 2019 BYLINE MUST READ: Boaz / BACKGRID USA: +1 310 798 9111 / usasales@backgrid.com UK: +44 208 344 2007 / uksales@backgrid.com *UK Clients - Pictures Containing Children Please Pixelate Face Prior To Publication*
Ben Affleck has a number of roles in the pipeline (Picture: Backgrid)
Brentwood, CA - Ben Affleck was on daddy duty this morning in Brentwood ahead of the weekend. Pictured: Ben Affleck, Seraphina Rose Elizabeth Affleck, Samuel Garner Affleck BACKGRID USA 31 MAY 2019 BYLINE MUST READ: Boaz / BACKGRID USA: +1 310 798 9111 / usasales@backgrid.com UK: +44 208 344 2007 / uksales@backgrid.com *UK Clients - Pictures Containing Children Please Pixelate Face Prior To Publication*
Ben Affleck with son Samuel and daughter Seraphina (Picture: Backgrid)

We worked on the script, I was trying to figure out how to cRead More – Source

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