Talking Dogs

19. February 2018

Berlinale blogger Gerasimos Bekas saw Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, then rubbed shoulders with Berliners at rush hour.

By Gerasimos Bekas

Wes Anderson is not a director anymore, he has long since become a brand. But he can’t be blamed for consistently developing his own style, which in turn has inspired other filmmakers. In his latest film, he runs riot with stop-motion animation. Anderson plays with language on various levels, turns dogs into protagonists and brings dolls astoundingly to life.

He creates a world that seems real in spite of its absurdity. The voice cast are brilliant. After my initial confusion, since I couldn’t help seeing the faces to the voices in my mind’s eye, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Though up to the very end I confused Scarlett Johansson with Jennifer Lawrence. That wouldn’t happen in real life. I hope they’ll forgive me.

Isle of Dogs is a lovingly made but innocuous film. The story is too predictable and too slick. I wanted to work up enthusiasm for the little boy who sets off on an adventurous search for his watchdog, remembering the stray dogs of my childhood by the Greek port of Preveza. Although I am quite responsive, the film doesn’t move me all the same.

A friend of mine sitting next to me in the cinema put it in a nutshell with a laconic “cute”. That is too little for a Wes Anderson. Too little for a Golden Bear. The humour lies in the aesthetic gags and details, which do provide some consolation, but do not obscure the inadequacy of the story. The audience laugh in the right places as if on cue. Goodness prevails in the end, evil is punished, though not all too harshly. After all, we want to remain fair.

Leaving Potsdamer Platz, I come to an important realization about the Berlinale: those who think the Berlin parties are the hottest part are wrong. In Berlin, as in Athens, if you want it really cramped and cosy, take public transport at rush hour.

My highlight is the U8, where I get the feeling I’m fusing with the other passengers into a tableau vivant. An old lady wearing a headscarf reaches for my shoulder, smiles and says, “Standing this close together, at least we can’t fall.” I hold tight to the yellow pole with an effort, as two young women cling to my forearm. Leaning to my left is a bald man all dressed in black, wearing thick black eyeliner. I take my investigative assignment as a Berlinale blogger seriously, so I inquire, “Sorry, are you famous or something?” “No, man,” he replies. “I’ve got style.” End of conversation. Fortunately, I have to change trains.

This blog post was originally published here and was republished with permission from Goethe-Institut.

Gerasimos Bekas is an author and playwright in Germany and Greece.

Translation: Eric Rosencrantz
Copyright: Text: Goethe-Institut Athen, Gerasimos Bekas. Dieser Text ist lizenziert unter einer Creative Commons Namensnennung – Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen 3.0 Deutschland Lizenz.

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