(Wanted to do a review, but it seems there isn't enough info to do that, so I'll have to place the review here. I've also had it published on an online magazine called Think Online,
Alright, moving on...)
Why did I ever want a dog? Why did I ever need a dog? Mika, 'Say, Marimo'
We feel you, Mika. Dogs have got to be the world's most polarising animals. Haters bitch about their smell, fangs and drool, while lovers bark about their loyalty and adorability. There are few who find residence in the 'they're alright' territory.
Which makes a film about dogs almost impossible to watch objectively. Thankfully, All About My Dog (Inu no Eiga in Japanese) isn't overly concerned with the conundrum, preferring instead to unabashedly proclaim its fascination with mutts. Seven Japanese directors from the film, anime and advertising industries explore the dog-human relationship in exquisitely crafted fashions. It loosely follows Kentaro Yamada (Shidou Nakamura), a timid media planner whose latest campaign for dog food is so stiflingnot to mention utterly side-splittingthat it brings back memories of his childhood Shiba dog, Pochi. And weaved between this heart-warming tale are bursts of zaniness, from a spontaneous musical or a mockumetary to a dog's-eye-view of infatuation.
But as innocent as the subject matter is, its dissertation isn't. Drawing from frustrations within their respective fields, each director constructs a subtle criticism on the disorienting effect of capitalism. Be it the ludicrous demands of clients and management ('My Commercial: Lost Way') or the unquenchable desire to be first in anything ('My Dog Is No. 1!'), they skilfully juxtapose human irrationality against canine simplicity, exposing our blindness and need for earthbound fleabags like these as life guides.
Naturally, most anthologies are bound to produce some darlings and, unfortunately, some duds, and this is no different. Both Akira Nagai's 'Dog Talk', about a conversation with the inventor of a doggy-speak translator tool, and 'Coro in Love' by Shinsuke Sato, about a Pug who fantasises about a Pomeranian named Lily despite only seeing her tail, are unwelcome interruptions that do little to win more of our affection or our laughs. And the unnamed cream-coloured claymation puppy who's various antics are inserted in between stories becomes tiresome after repeated appearances. He's cute, but annoyingly overused. Kinda like Harajuku girls, maybe.
But 'Say, Marimo' by acclaimed commercial director Atsushi Sanada is a stunning closer. A tear-jerking, dual-perspective exploration of the mystical connection between a girl Mika (Aoi Miyazaki) and her dog Marimo. Sanada effectively utilises the text-on-black screen techniques of 1930s silent films while a richly textured soundtrack that trumpets all that is glorious about Japanese music. Complete with the aforementioned quote, it is also a poignant summation of the movie. All About My Dog may not be the definitive showreel of cinematic excellence from the land of the rising sun, but it beams enough warmth for our occasionally human-weary hearts to turn towards the panting grin of our ever-loyal best friend.
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