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“Every dog must have his day.” – Jonathan Swift

I love dogs. I love my dog Stella and every dog I ever had growing up. I love dogs I pass on the street. I love dogs that bark and dogs that whine and dogs that growl. I love them all, regardless of whether or not they love me back (although they usually do).

So it’s no surprise that when the opportunity was presented to me to review the new documentary “We Don’t Deserve Dogs,” directed by Matthew Salleh in collaboration with his partner Rose Tucker. It’s a voyage around the globe, looking at the various ways that dogs impact the worlds in which we live. Across borders and cultures, dogs are present, helping us by simply being the wonderful creatures that they are.

From country to country, from circumstance to circumstance, we bounce from place to place, encountering our four-legged friends in various environments. And even in those spots where the life of a dog is difficult, these wonderful creatures find ways to shine their light upon us. It is heartfelt and charming and uplifting – and don’t forget the tissues, because if you’re anything like me, you are going to need them.

Published in Movies

BANGOR – Penobscot Theatre Company is going to the dogs.

As part of the theatre’s ongoing Digitus Theatrum season, PTC is presenting “The Dog Operas,” a series of three streaming performances set to roll out over the coming weeks. These pieces are the result of a lengthy canine/human collaboration, a multi-species team-up the likes of which the theatre world has never seen.

The first dog opera – “The Barker of Seville” – premiered on March 2. Subsequent operas – “Tosca the Ball” and “Dog Giovanni” – will become available on April 6 and May 4, respectively. Household tickets for all three “pupperas” are $40; the rate for PTC subscribers is $35. These tickets can be purchased through the PTC website at www.penobscottheatre.org or by calling the box office at 942-3333.

I should probably introduce myself. My name is Stella. I’m a Carolina dog whose age is none of your beeswax. My dad Allen is the editor of The Maine Edge. He knew that he wanted something special for this story, but he wasn’t sure what to do. Typical human, right? I let him try to work it out for himself for a while, but when it became clear how clueless he was, I finally gave him a nudge.

Now, this isn’t my usual beat. My primary gig has been working with my dad on the ongoing football picks feature “Kibbles & Picks” – I haven’t really done much in the way of arts coverage, but I figured if my dad can manage it, how hard can it be?

Of course, dog reporting is considerably different than human reporting. Humans need to have all these face-to-face conversations and spend all kinds of time staring at glowing rectangles. Not us canines – I just went for a walk and sent a couple of pee-mails. Word spreads pretty quickly in the doggie community, so it was just a matter of hours before I got some responses – some via howl, others simply through pee-mail responses (although someone – I’m not going to say who – did a pee-ply all that was just a nightmare to sift through).

Published in Buzz

We’ve all heard the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” While it might not be true in all cases, it is certainly true in the case of “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” the latest offering from animation stalwart Illumination.

And you know? That’s OK.

Sure, one can look at “The Secret Life of Pets 2” as a tossed-off and somewhat cynical attempt to cash in on the surprisingly significant success of the first film (seriously – the first “TSLOP” did over $875 million at the global box office). You wouldn’t even necessarily be wrong to do so. But if there’s one thing that Illumination knows how to do, it’s to make you feel all right about handing over your cash.

This isn’t a great movie by any stretch – what story it has feels stitched together from a handful of discarded ideas and deemed good enough, all of it serving as a framework on which to hang the same kid-friendly pet-themed jokes and sight gags that we saw in the first film. However, that can often be enough – the kids in my screening certainly enjoyed it well enough.

Published in Music

Full disclosure: I love dogs. Love love LOVE dogs. I love the teeny tiny puppers and the big thick doggos and all the adorable floofs out there.

Being the font of canine adoration that I am, it’s clear that I fit squarely into the target demographic of “A Dog’s Journey,” the sequel to 2017’s “A Dog’s Purpose.” It’s the story of one good boy’s spirit as he lives multiple lives, all of them focused on doing right by the one he is sworn to watch over – a duty whose subject changes in this sequel.

(It’s worth noting that while there’s no in-movie connection between these two movies and “A Dog’s Way Home” from earlier this year, all three films are based on novels by the writer W. Bruce Cameron, so don’t be shocked by tonal or thematic similarities.)

It’s a chance to follow one dog’s devoted spirit seek endlessly to track down the person that they are meant to protect, no matter what. It isn’t always easy, but a good dog will do whatever it takes. And since they’re ALL good dogs, well … they’re going to make it happen.

Published in Movies
Sunday, 13 January 2019 15:24

Dog gone - 'A Dog's Way Home'

Full disclosure: I’m a dog person.

As an extension of that, I’m a movie dog person. Anytime I see a dog on screen, there’s a slight-but-significant uptick in my emotional engagement. When there’s a canine presence, I pay closer attention – particularly if there’s any possible chance that something unfortunate might befall said dog. I care more about their well-being than just about any two-legged types.

This brings us to “A Dog’s Way Home.” If you’re going to give me a movie that’s all about a dog wandering through the wilderness in an effort to make her way back to the family that she loves, then I am FOR SURE going to watch the everloving crap out of it. I am going to watch it and I am going to feel all of the feelings.

Is this a great movie? Not really. But for what it is – a sweet, warm-hearted movie aimed directly at dog lovers like myself – it’s pretty good. It has its flaws (there’s one particularly bleak, albeit mercifully brief subplot that is weirdly out of place), but for the most part, it is charming and cute and kind of funny and a little goofy … just like the four-legged friend I have beside me as I write this.

(Note: My dog is named Stella and the movie dog is named Bella, so I was even more predisposed to enjoy my time here.)

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 15 August 2018 12:37

‘Dog Days’ more bark than bite

August is an interesting month when it comes to the movies. It’s a landing spot for films that maybe don’t quite fit the now-traditional IP blockbuster mode, but don’t make sense in the fall, but are also too good for the January-February wasteland.

In many ways, “Dog Days” epitomizes a certain type of August movie. It’s an ensemble comedy that isn’t unceasingly raunchy or packed with big stars, one driven more by the uncynical central conceit that dogs make our lives better.

Despite the subversive comedy bona fides of director Ken Marino (of “The State” fame), “Dog Days” seems content to coast on moments of sentimental cuteness and easy jokes. It’s basically one of those Garry Marshall holiday-themed movies, only with more dogs and a less famous cast.

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 17 April 2018 14:43

‘Isle of Dogs’ is doggone good

Full disclosure: I’m in the bag for Wes Anderson. From “Bottle Rocket” right on through the years, I’ve been onboard with his quirky unorthodoxy. To my mind, he’s made solid contact with every film he’s ever made, even if he hasn’t necessarily hit a home run every time out.

That being said, “Isle of Dogs” is in fact a home run.

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 27 March 2018 15:31

Canine genius develops dog-centric app

FetchR set to totally disrupt the playdate paradigm

Published in Tekk

As football fans get ready for Sunday’s ginormous meeting between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, many millions of TV viewers will be watching Animal Planet for one of the cutest counter-programming moves in television history – Puppy Bowl XIII.

Published in Style
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 14:05

Must love dogs – ‘A Dog’s Purpose’

Canines far outshine human co-stars

Published in Movies
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