Fantastic Fest Review: Bunraku


Director:Guy Moshe

Cast:Josh Hartnett, Kevin McKidd, Demi Moore, Woody Harrleson, Gackt

Running Time:108 Minutes


After premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival,
Guy Moshe's super stylistic Bunraku
made it to Austin's Fantastic Fest. Expecting something of a typical slasher
flick, I was not looking forward to this film about a dystopian world where
swords are used in place of guns. However, I left the theater a Guy Moshe fan
interested in the style he brought to life over years of imagination. Between
the narrator and the illustrations, Bunraku
calls to mind the likes of Sin City
and other graphic novel-to-movie translations, but the genius here is that
Moshe wrote his own story and titled it after a style of Japanese puppet theater.

A dark and appropriate tone sets the scenery of the movie as
an unnamed drifter (Hartnett) wanders into a town run by the Woodcutter Nicola
(Ron Pearlman) and his band of killers. Smooth and ruthless, these killers-
numbered 1 through 9 and dressed in red, showcase much of the film's action in
their dance-like fight scenes. The Drifter finds himself in the town's bar
seeking information from the wise and helpful bartender (Harrleson) before
crossing paths with another foreigner , Yoshi (Gackt), also looking to defeat
Nicola for his own reason. The two debate joining forces to bring down the
tyrant, but what they do not realize is that they will have to face Nicola's entire
band of killers before ever reaching their nemesis, and the odds are against

The soundtrack carries the story from scene to scene as if
we were watching a video game being played out, and the paper cut-outs on
strings make the transitions between events, continuing to pay tribute to
Goshe's inspiration.  Amidst all of
this, Josh Harnett and Japanese pop star Geckt each take on the role of good
guy looking for a fight, and they do so believably "“ despite the fact that the
pop star looks a bit feminine. Kevin McKidd serves brilliantly as the number
two killer, very different than what we see weekly from him on "˜Grey's Anatomy',
and the bartender role seems to have been written specifically for Woody
Harrelson. The impressive style combined with impressive performances from all
the leads makes for the best surprise of the festival. Don't miss this unique
piece of stylistic cinema.


About Danielle Bartz


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