“you say isle of dogs we hear i love dogs” reads a tweet from the official Isle of Dogs account. Naturally, I repeated it over and over again — Isle of Dogs, I love dogs, Isle of Dogs, I love dogs. Wes Anderson’s latest is a touching love letter to our canine companions. It’s replete with the signature touches we know and love (or hate), a style that has been parodied a countless number of times. The delectable animation on display here is no gimmick though — Anderson imbues his film with a warmth and sincerity that affirms that his style can coexist with substance, with the breezy confidence of an auteur in full command of his craft.
In the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki, mayor Kobayashi has banished every dog to Trash Island — the titular Isle — to curb the spread of “dog flu” and “canine fever”. One of these dogs is Spots, the former bodyguard dog of the mayor’s orphaned nephew Atari, and the subject of a desperate search that is the heart of this story. Back in Megasaki, group of teenage activists attempt to rise against the corrupt government and find a cure for the dog flu. Isle of Dogs is thrilling and charming in equal measure — I even found myself tearing up a few times, but if the sight of a dog crying doesn’t make you feel anything then you definitely don’t have a heart.
Love it or hate it, the best thing about Valentine’s Day is always the movies. From arthouse drama to cheesy rom-coms to depressing tear-jerkers, we all have our favourite kinds of romance film. There’s a wide variety of faves even amongst the Much Ado team, so hopefully our recommendation list will give you a new idea or two this February 14th!
(500) Days of Summer
Why conform to watching a traditional romantic comedy this Valentine’s Day? Why submit to Hollywood’s saccharine nature and settle down with a formulaic feature when you could instead confront the heartache that comes with unrequited love and the realisation that no person is ever really what you imagine them to be? If you’re looking for a bit of realism in your romance, then 500 Days of Summer is the film for you. Its central theme can be summed up in one line delivered by a young Chloë Grace Moretz’s character, the younger sister of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s hopeless protagonist Tom, as she tells him that ‘just because some girl is into the same bizzaro crap as you, that doesn’t mean she’s your soulmate.’ Truer words were never spoken, indeed. There is no doubt that every one of us is at least somewhat guilty of convincing ourselves that someone is the one for us simply because they share a few of our interests. What 500 Days of Summer does is show just how problematic this kind of thinking is and how disastrous it can be for us in the long run, by having Tom break his own heart in attempting to believe that the titular Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is the person he has made her out to be in his head. Summer may like the same music as Tom, she may enjoy the same kind of cinema as he does, but that doesn’t mean that the two are made for each other, or that they are even remotely compatible. Reality can never truly match our expectations, 500 Days of Summer reminds us, and people are not ours to mould into whatever we want them to be. It is the perfect antidote to the onslaught of Nicholas Spark’s adaptations that infiltrate cinemas around this time of year and shows us that love is, often, not what we believe it to be.
As much as we bicker with our parents, it’s safe to say that no child ever wants to feel like they’re not wanted. Unfortunately, poor little Alexey is the biggest loser of the parental lottery. His parents are going through a divorce so brutal, it makes you question why they even got married in the first place; they have both found new partners and it’s clear from observing their separate lives that their son doesn’t fit into the equation. One night they argue over who should take custody — neither of them wanting to carry what they consider a burden. A shot tracks the mother, Zhenya, as she leaves the bathroom and slams the living room door to reveal a devastated Alexey hiding behind it — his face projecting horror and overwhelming sadness. It is perhaps the most powerful shot in a film full of them. Any cliched metaphor can be applied — a stab in the heart, a punch in the gut — from there, I understood that this was going to be a rough ride, though I was never expecting it to be easy.
2017 was a crazy, whirlwind of a year for cinema, with great films that left us on the edge of our seats like Get Out and Dunkirk, but now it’s time to start thinking about the countless films we can’t wait to see in 2018. Especially as the 2018 Sundance Festival comes to an end, we can’t help to think 2018 could be another great year for film. Ranging from small, independent films to major Disney blockbusters, here are some of the films our staff desperately anticipating.
After months of a less than fruitful awards season, the beginning of the home stretch is finally upon us: Oscar nominations are announced tomorrow. With our varied taste at Much Ado, some of us have celebrated as their favourite films win big at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards and SAG Awards, while others have suffered as their favourites get paid dust. It’s been a tumultuous couple of months, but now it’s time to honour the grand old tradition of making predictions. Without further ado, we present our Oscar predictions, along with some films and performances that we think deserve more awards attention.
We at Much Ado About Cinema are unfortunately not attending the Sundance Film Festival, but I can attest from years of experience that there is another way of immersing yourself in all things Sundance without stepping onto the chilly streets of Park City. Learning the schedule like the back of your hand; obsessively refreshing your Twitter feed; jumping on the hype-train for films you haven’t even seen — this is all familiar territory for anyone who is well-versed in the Sundance-away-from-Sundance experience. To bring you your first dose of Sundance FOMO, I present 10 films in the Sundance lineup that I’m dying to read the reviews for — then wait 6 to 12 months to actually see:
(I’ve tried to include a broad range of films from different strands, but I have notably left out documentaries, only because there are so many interesting films to choose from that it would make this list too long.)
Read any review, tweet, or basically any form of writing about ‘Lady Bird’ and you’ll likely find a line like: “I feel like Greta Gerwig wrote ‘Lady Bird’ for me” or “It was like the pages of my teenage diary had come to life”. Greta Gerwig’s beautiful debut is a singular experience for any woman because it feels like you are reliving your senior year of high school all over again. This can all be attributed to the fact that this hasn’t been written by a man trying to score a paycheck, but a woman who has lived through this herself.