Monday, January 16, 2012

3 Short Paragraphs: Bunraku

2010, Guy Moshe -- download

Bunraku is a type of puppet show originally from Osaka, Japan.  It is a complicated form of art that involves puppets manipulated by multiple puppeteers, dressed in black cloth and where the heads of the puppets are designed by artisans. A chanter performs all the voice parts, changing tones and range to represent the different characters.  Themes focus on the story as opposed to the performance, and where other puppetry of the age just had simple stories of myth and monsters, bunraku told tales of high drama.

Bunraku the movie is spaghetti western, martial arts and post-apocalypse high fantasy all tossed into one glossy, high-style presentation.  Think Kill Bill but more fantastical, think Kung Fu Hustle but a little bit more outrageous.  Think Suckerpunch but less CGI-y and which Kent might not dislike as much.  Think Sin City but bright colours instead of black & white.  It really is hard to accurately describe without all the comparisons.  There are garish colours and mixed era costumes, there is noir mixed with kungfu action, there are fedoras and samurai.  There is even a little bit of a graphic novel feel.  And there is Ron Perlman as the villain.

So, it's a future world where guns and bullets were abandoned and banished. Oh there are still bad guys and warriors but they all use fists and swords and medieval weapons.  Josh Hartnett is the drifter who comes to town with one agenda, kill Nicola the Woodcutter, Perlman's character.  Perlman is a gang leader and the evil ruler of the town and abuser of prostitutes.  Hartnett is a mystery but one that the town needs, skilled in combat and not afraid of Killers numbered 2 through 10.  Along with the samurai played by Gackt, the tale of high dramatic revenge and freedom is played out.   Now you would think with all these elements, drawing upon SO MUCH source that is brilliant, I would love this but it unfortunately just went together with too little heart.  It was so well put together but lacked something essential.  It wanted to become a cult classic but it would need a cult following first.