Watch the New Trailer for Wes Anderson’s Stop Motion Film, Isle of Dogs, Inspired by Akira Kurosawa

It surprised everyone, even die-hard fans, when Wes Anderson announced that he would not just adapt Roald Dahl's children's book Fantastic Mr. Fox for the screen, but do it with stop-motion animation. But after we'd all given it a bit of thought, it made sense: Anderson's films and Dahl's stories do share a certain sense of inventive humor, and stepping away from live action would finally allow the director of such detail-oriented pictures as RushmoreThe Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou fuller control over the visuals. Eight years later, we find Anderson overseeing another team of animators to tell another, even more fantastical-looking story, this one set not in an England of the past but a Japan of the future.

There, according to the project's newly released trailer, "canine saturation has reached epic proportions. An outbreak of dog flu rips through the city of Megasaki. Mayor Kobayashi issues emergency orders calling for a hasty quarantine. Trash Island becomes an exile colony: the Isle of Dogs." Equals in furriness, if not attire, to Fantastic Mr. Fox's woodland friends and voiced by the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Scarlet Johansson, Tilda Swinton, and of course Bill Murray (in a cast also including Japanese performers like Ken Watanabe, Mari Natsuki, and Yoko Ono — yes, that Yoko Ono), the canines of various colors and sizes forcibly relocated to the bleak titular setting must band together into a kind of ragtag family.




Anderson must find himself very much at home in this thematic territory by now. It would also have suited the towering figure in Japanese film to whom Isle of Dogs pays tribute. Although Anderson has cited the 1960s and 70s stop-animation holiday specials of Rankin/Bass like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Little Drummer Boy — all produced, incidentally, in Japan — as one inspiration, he also said on an ArteTV Q&A earlier this year that “the new film is really less influenced by stop-motion movies than it is by Akira Kurosawa.” Perhaps he envisioned Atari Kobayashi, the boy who journeys to Trash Island to retrieve his lost companion, as a twelve-year-old version of one of Kurosawa's lone heroes.




And perhaps it owes to Kurosawa that the setting — at least from what the trailer reveals — combines elements of an imagined future with the look and feel of Japan's rapidly developing mid-20th century, a period that has long fascinated Anderson in its European incarnations but one captured crisply in Kurosawa's homeland in crime movies like High and Low and The Bad Sleep Well. Anderson has made little to no reference to the Land of the Rising Sun before, but his interest makes sense: no land better understands what Anderson has expressed more vividly with every project, the richness of the aesthetic mixture of the past and future that always surrounds us. And from what I could tell on my last visit there, its dog situation remains blessedly under control — for now.

via Uncrate

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

A New Animation Explains How Caffeine Keeps Us Awake

Let’s preface this by recalling that Honoré de Balzac drank up to 50 cups of coffee a day and lived to the ripe old age of … 51.

Of course, he produced dozens of novels, plays, and short stories before taking his leave. Perhaps his caffeine habit had a little something to do with that?

Pharmacist Hanan Qasim’s TED-Ed primer on how caffeine keeps us awake top loads the positive effects of the most world’s commonly used psychoactive substance. Global consumption is equivalent to the weight of 14 Eiffel Towers, measured in drops of coffee, soda, chocolate, energy drinks, decaf…and that’s just humans. Insects get theirs from nectar, though with them, a little goes a very long, potentially deadly way.




Caffeine’s structural resemblance to the neurotransmitter adenosine is what gives it that special oomph. Adenosine causes sleepiness by plugging into neural receptors in the brain, causing them to fire more sluggishly. Caffeine takes advantage of their similar molecular structures to slip into these receptors, effectively stealing adenosine’s parking space.

With a bioavailability of 99%, this interloper arrives ready to party.

On the plus side, caffeine is both a mental and physical pick me up.

In appropriate doses, it can keep your mind from wandering during a late night study session.

It lifts the body’s metabolic rate and boosts performance during exercise—an effect that’s easily counteracted by getting the bulk of your caffeine from chocolate or sweetened soda, or by dumping another Eiffel Tower’s worth of sugar into your coffee.

There’s even some evidence that moderate consumption may reduce the likelihood of such diseases as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.

What to do when that caffeine effect starts wearing off?

Gulp down more!

As with many drugs, prolonged usage diminishes the sought-after effects, causing its devotees (or addicts, if you like) to seek out higher doses, negative side effects be damned. Nervous jitters, incontinence, birth defects, raised heart rate and blood pressure… it’s a compelling case for sticking with water.

Animator Draško Ivezić (a 3-latte-a-day man, according to his studio’s website) does a hilarious job of personifying both caffeine and the humans in its thrall, particularly an egg-shaped new father.

Go to TED-Ed to learn more, or test your grasp of caffeine with a quiz.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Bob Dylan Hates Me: An Animation

Filmmaker Caveh Zahedi met his idol twice. And lived to animate the story. Enjoy.

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Legendary Animator Chuck Jones Creates an Oscar-Winning Animation About the Virtues of Universal Health Care (1949)

While our country looks like it might be coming apart at the seams, it’s good to revisit, every once in a while, moments when it did work. And that’s not so that we can feel nostalgic about a lost time, but so that we can remind ourselves how, given the right conditions, things could work well once again.

One example from history (and recently rediscovered by a number of blogs during the AHCA debacle in Congress) is this government propaganda film from 1949—the Harry S. Truman era—that promotes the idea of cradle-to-grave health care, and all for three cents a week. This money went to school nurses, nutritionists, family doctors, and neighborhood health departments.




Directed by Chuck Jones, better known for animating Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and the Road Runner, "So Much for So Little" follows our main character from infancy—where doctors help immunize babies against whooping cough, diphtheria, rheumatic fever, and smallpox—through school to dating, marriage, becoming parents, and settling into a nice, healthy retirement. Along the way, the government has made sure that health care is nothing to worry about.

The film won an Academy Award in 1950 for Documentary Short Subject—not best sci-fi, despite how radical this all sounds.

So what happened? John Maher at the blog Dot and Line puts it this way:

Partisanship and capitalism and racist zoning policies shattered its idealistic dream that Americans might actually pay communally for their health as well as that of their neighbors and fellow citizens.

Three cents per American per week wouldn’t cut it now in terms of universal health coverage. But according to Maher, quoting a 2009 Kingsepp study on the original Affordable Care Act, taxpayers would have to pay $3.61 a week.

So folks, don’t get despondent, get idealistic. The Greatest Generation came back from WWII with a grand idealism. Maybe this current generation just needs to fight and defeat Nazis all over again…

Related Content:

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This American Life Demystifies the American Healthcare System

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

36 Abstract Covers of Vintage Psychology, Philosophy & Science Books Come to Life in a Mesmerizing Animation

Animated ebook covers are the wave of the future.

Graphic and motion designer Henning M. Lederer surfs that wave on the most unexpected of boards—a collection of abstract mid-century covers drawn from the Instagram feed of artist Julian Montague, who shares his enthusiasm for vintage minimalism.

Lederer first came to our attention in 2015, when we covered the first installment of what seems destined to become an ongoing project.




His latest effort, above, continues his explorations in the subjects which most frequently traded in these sorts of geometric covers—science, psychotherapy, philosophy and sociology.

No word on what inspired him to toss in the first cover, which features a cheerful, Playmobil-esque mushroom gatherer. It's endearing, but—to quote Sesame Street—is not like the others. Those of us who can’t decipher Cyrillic script get the fun of imagining what sort of text this is—a mycology manual? A children’s tale? A psychological examination—and ultimately rejection—of midcentury publishers’ fascination for spirals, diagonal bars, and other non-narrative graphics?

Whether or not you’d be inclined to pick up any of these titles, you may find yourself wanting to dance to them, compliments of musician Jörg Stierle’s trippy electronics.

Or take your cue from yet another cover  contained therein: I. P. Pavlov’s Essays in Psychology and Psychiatry with a Special Section on Sleep and Hypnosis.

Here’s the one that started it all:

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Miyazaki Meets Warhol in Campbell’s Soup Cans Reimagined by Designer Hyo Taek Kim

M'm! M'm! Good! M'm! M'm! Good!,

That's what Warhol Campbell’s Soup Cans reconceived as Miyazaki films are,

M'm! M'm! Good! 

Brazilian-Korean designer Hyo Taek Kim has found a continuing font of inspiration in his childhood love of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films.

He has deconstructed them into a series of Pantone of color palettes and captured several favorite moments through the lens of VHS tape glitches.




Miyazaki–Special Soup Series, his latest exploratory journey into the enchanted world of the revered master animator and director–finds him reducing each film to a couple of essential flavors.

One can imagine Mom calling the kids in from an afternoon of sledding for a warm, Cream of Tomato-ish bowl of Totoro.

Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle are slightly more sophisticated flavors, that may involve leafy greens.

Princess Mononoke and Porco Rosso are Grandpa’s favorites–real stick to your ribs fare.

The subtle iconography brings added dimension to the stark product design Warhol duplicated to such acclaim.

As Kim told the Creators Project:

Simple design that works is always so much harder to create than you might expect. It’s just very fun to marry two ideas, artists and/or concepts into one big image. Andy Warhol changed the world of physical arts. Hayao Miyazaki changed the world of animated arts.

This is not Kim’s first go at Campbell’s. His earlier Supersoup Series reduced superheroes to consommé and cream ofs. Don’t forget the oyster crackers.

Posters and t-shirts of Hyo Taek Kim’s Miyazaki Special Soup and Soupersoup Series can be purchased here.

View more of Kim's soup cans online at the Creators Project.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Watch A Single Life: An Oscar-Nominated Short About How Vinyl Records Can Take Us Magically Through Time

In 2015, the Dutch animation studio Job, Joris & Marieke, got an Oscar nomination for this delightful animated short, "A Single Life." It's a two minute tale about how music--particularly vinyl records--can transport us to magical places. And we mean really magical places.

Seeing that we don't believe in spoilers, we're not going to say anything more--other than "A Single Life" has been screened at more than 200 festivals and received more than 40 awards. And, what's more, it will be added to our collection of Animated Films, a subset of our collection 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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