• Ben Erickson

Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs is a stop-motion animation film directed by Wes Anderson in which the ruthless Mayor Kobayashi has banished all the dogs of his city to Trash Island off the coast of Japan. The film follows the mayor's ward Attari in the search for his dog Spots, helped by several dogs along the way and each voiced by one or another of the director's favourite actors (Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Bryan Cranston, Bob Balaban, and Edward Norton). The score is composed by Alexandre Desplat, making Isle of Dogs his fourth collaboration with Anderson following Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Desplat continues to meet Anderson's quirky style with similarly off-kilter music, writing anything but a conventional score by use of traditional Japanese instruments and styles. The score is led by an eight-note theme set to male chorus, with aught anything else where recognizable melodies are concerned. The bulk of the score instead deals with texture based ideas, using taiko drums, claves, castanets, tambourine, flutes, recorders, bassoon, piano, saxophone, and low strings without sustained bowing to create a series of rhythmic identities as distinct and functional as any melody. The score also draws on an assortment of older pieces: "Kanbei & Katsushiro - Kikuchiyo's Mambo" and "Kosame No Oka", both written by Fumio Hayasaka for the Akira Kurosawa films Seven Sumarai and Drunken Angel respectively, and "Midnight Sleighride" from Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kijié. The film is as witty as any Anderson has produced, and Desplat's score gives a good show of the uniformly uncomplicated nature of dogs on a mission.