ISLE OF DOGS: Normally, I’m an easy mark when it comes to stamping my seal of approval on a dog movie. But director/writer Wes Anderson’s (FANTASTIC MR. FOX) stop-motion animated film about a Japanese boy (voiced by Koyu Rankin) searching for his dog (voiced by Liev Schreiber) quarantined on a landfill of an island inhabited by exiled canines feels like an onerous exercise in artistic self-indulgence. While one will certainly marvel at the meticulous detail of seeing dog hairs shifting from frame to frame in an old school style anime, you’re also extremely conscious of bland, tepid storytelling that rolls over and plays dead. Dog owners will swear that their pets have personalities all their own (And they do.) so it’s a disappointment that most of the pooches on the aptly named wasteland of Trash Island all engage in the irony tinged banter of bone dry, subtle humor that’s become Anderson’s trademark. But after a few scenes, the witticisms come off as overly contrived and even repetitive. If a dog fight occurring in a giant cloud of puffy smoke is funny once, let’s repeat it again until we run it into the ground. As visually striking as the movie is to look at, it’s never at the service of the narrative as it should be. There’s an odd detachment of emotion, too, that’s surprisingly absent in a plot about a kid trying to be reunited with a beloved pet. There are traces of political undertones in the storyline related to a dictatorial mayor (voiced by Kunichi Nomura) deporting an “undesireable” group to a concentration camp style setting. But its impact is negated by often having the Japanese speaking human characters being translated in their dialogue which is strangely off-putting to the viewer as are many of the scenes which have a sort of static quality that’s distracting to watch. As cliché as it sounds, this is a movie about dogs that ought to be buried in someone’s back yard like an old bone gone bad. CRITIC’S GRADE: C+

DOUBLE FEATURE: CHAPPAQUIDDICK pretty much adheres to recounting what are known facts about the infamous, mysterious car wreck that killed a female campaign worker (Kate Mara) and cost Senator Edward M. Kennedy (Jason Clarke) a shot at being President. Questions with unknown answers will still remain like the nature of Kennedy’s relationship with his victim (The movie treats it as a close friendship.) or why voters still embraced the Senator after he committed what amounted to negligent homicide in an alcohol-fueled tragedy. But Australian actor Clarke (DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES) delivers a very layered performance that at once depicts “Teddy” as the Fredo Corleone of the Kennedy “mafia” as well as an entitled elitist willing to use his family influence and assorted gang of fixers to orchestrate a cover-up for political survival that might have actually worked. CRITIC’S GRADE : B