Overrated/Underrated: ‘Isle of Dogs’ runs strangely cold, and everything is terrible, so listen to the Grateful Dead
“Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind”: Given Williams’ impact on pop culture, the documentary treatments were sure to come after his untimely death in 2014. And though this HBO doc isn’t and ultimately can’t be a comprehensive portrait of his life and how his work affected entertainment, it does manage a tidy encapsulation of the staggering talents that were at Williams’ fingertips alongside the shadows of his personality that helped drive him to incredible highs and devastating lows. “He was like the light that never knew how to turn itself off,” his fellow comic Lewis Black remembers, but he also shined so much brighter than most.
Listening to the Grateful Dead this summer: From Orwellian assurances that what you’re seeing isn’t real, to all-caps Twitter threats of war, it’s a hot, hard summer that is months from cooling off. Somehow, however, it’s an ideal time to listen to the Grateful Dead. No, really. Something about the band’s strange alchemy — outlined in the 2017 Amazon documentary “Long Strange Trip” — offers a kind of aural escape within their many live recordings, even for the Dead-averse. Start with the revered, shockingly rich Cornell University show from May 8, 1977, which was inducted into the National Recording Registry before it was officially released last year.
“Isle of Dogs” (2018): The latest stop-motion story from writer-director Wes Anderson already endured criticism for cultural insensitivity in how it balanced its Japanese characters and setting with its English-speaking and non-Asian canine voices, but the larger issue is the movie’s puzzling lack of heart. Although the visuals are as lovely and meticulously rendered as you might expect from the team who created the equally beautiful “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” there’s something about this movie that feels less like a story than a vehicle for breathtaking settings and visual flourishes, leaving its central dogs for the most part out in the cold.
Disney’s itchy trigger finger: Never a company that’s been comfortable with controversy, the Mouse moved on from director James Gunn and his stewardship over Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” after some offensive jokes were unearthed from his social media feed. Disney can work with whomever it pleases, but there’s something unsettling about the success enjoyed by a right-wing brigade that is harnessing Twitter’s penchant for performative outrage to get its ideological opposites in trouble. The internet’s biggest rule once was to ignore its trolls, but now, it seems, it’s the trolls who rule.
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