Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

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Review of Bunraku

For most movies that I watch, I give a rating of 3/5. That means nothing new, same old. 4/5 means it stood out but there was something very clear that was missing. 5/5 is reserved for those movies that I love, keeps me watching, and makes me want to buy it or recommend to my next door neighbor. I pause it when someone asks me something so as not to disturb the film. Bunraku was a 5/5. I loved it and hope you all get interested and seek it out.

This film felt like an adaptation of a graphic novel, though it was an original piece. The film is about a stranger (Hartnett) entering a town with an unknown mission and fighting to the top of the city. It’s a fantastical film where guns are outlawed and power is bestowed in a hierarchical fashion, Ron Perlman being the top. Therefore, Hartnett and another introduced lead fight their way up for their own respective duties. Bunraku refers to a type of Japanese theater where large (~4ft.) wooden dolls are used. The entire film looks like a graphic novel and theater combined.

Similar to Dario Argento’s Suspiria, we had a lot of emphasized and exaggerated color. This infers more emotion to scenes, adds depth, and otherwise submerges the viewer deeper into the movie. The set may have looked a bit too ‘constructed’ and simple but I loved it. Reminded me of Sin City and The Spirit. I felt that the art crew spent time on this backgrounds and scenes. Kind of like how Tarantino is able to notice small things and changes or modifies them, to make remarkable scenes.

Not many films breach a 90 minute mark in total runtime. Sometimes it feels like directors get to 90 minutes and cut it. I love a film which breaches it. This one made 124 minutes! Thus, I felt as if I’m getting my money’s worth and the director is really putting something worthwhile into this movie. Certainly, some films do carry over too long. (Albeit the movie was cut into two) There was a recent movie called Che that ran over 4 hours! I haven’t seen it and I’m not sure if it’d carry my interest much.

As the two protagonists fight their way to the top, they battle certain antagonists in an unorthodox ladder fashion. The film portrays the antagonists as having seniority, but are battled at all different times. Near the end of the movie I felt a Mortal Kombat reference where you have to face an alter ego of yourself before you get to Shao Kahn or Goro. I didn’t expect it and found it very entertaining though. In addition to this alter ego scene was some unique pacing. I don’t want to spoil it but for example, the two protagonists face their alter egos, one takes several minutes to do this, while the other takes some 30 seconds.

The character personalities and looks made this film stupdendous. Josh Hartnett really stood out and made me notice him. I never really cared for anything previous but he did an awesome job.  He had a very hidden look and story, but never came off as too cocky or overly strong and powerful. In some films we have those characters who are overly resilient and unaffected by criticisms and duels. Hartnett held a strong and smart head but was able to be bruised. There was also some guy only known as ‘Gackt’. He is an popular Japanese artist and looks very feminine. His facial expressions were just blah and uneventful. Being one of the two leads in the film (and only Asian), he should have had better martial arts skills. Perlman was the antagonist and is usually very bland to me. He never seems to be excited and just sits through most movies trying with his ‘I don’t care’ look. All I can say without giving away some crucial plot points is his performance is fitting. His outfit looked awesome too. Eh, Demi Moore was in it but she was pointless. Woody Harrelson played the mediator role between Gackt and Hartnett and really helped the story along. It’s a new director, Guy Moshe, with only one other unknown film (Holly) behind his belt. I’d like to see more from him and his vision.

Only the viewer can ‘want’ to see a movie. Here I’ll convince why it stands out as a wonderful movie which also induces the ‘want’ factor. Standout Hartnett performance, great character personalities and interactions, beautiful comic feel, colors, martial arts in an otherwise artistic film. Go see it for my sake!

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One response to “Review of Bunraku

  1. CultureCast-Z December 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Good review, Kyle. I’m not one to assign scores to films, but in theory I tend to agree. Most films are pretty middling. I’m actually more interested in the 4/5-type films, because I tend to look for overreaching “failures” rather than sure things. I just find them more interesting.

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