DID YOU READ

“Bunraku,” reviewed

“Bunraku,” reviewed (photo)

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No wonder “Bunraku” made such a fun trailer: the movie is all trailer, 120 minutes of tease and no payoff. The cast is impressive, the look is unusual, the martial arts sequences are impressively detailed for a low-budget indie, but the story, the characters, and the dialogue are all completely secondary to the world and the visual wow factor.

Though I’ve heard people compare the look of “Bunraku” to green screen films like “Sin City,” it seems closer to me to a live-action anime film made by a fan of Lars von Trier’s “Dogville.” Everything is so exaggeratedly stylized that the visuals constantly call attention to their own construction. Western saloons sit beside Japanese pagodas on a giant, candy-colored soundstage in a weird Disney World dystopia. It’s some time in the future, after mankind has outlawed guns and returned to the sword as the peacekeeping weapon of choice. A powerful mob boss named Nicola the Woodcutter (Ron Perlman) reigns as the supreme ruler of a frontier town until a cowboy (Josh Hartnett) and a samurai (Geckt) arrive, intent on challenging him and his gang of assassins. What do Hartnett and Geckt want with Perlman? What, for that matter, does Perlman want with anyone? For much of the movie, the characters’ motivations are left vague. Mostly, I think, they’re all just looking for excuses to get into elaborate kung fu fights.

Writer/director Guy Moshe obliges them. Scene after scene of “Bunraku,” including most of the last half hour, is given over to action and stunt sequences, all impressive for a movie of this size and budget. One in particular, a “Donkey Kong”-inspired long take that follows Hartnett as he plows through floor after floor of baddies as he makes his way through a prison, is easily one of the coolest movie fights of 2011. But with nothing driving any of the characters forward, all the empty spectacle eventually grows tiresome (at two hours, this movie is at least a half hour too long, too). The different factions and their quests never come together into anything more substantial than a bunch of cool-looking people doing cool-looking stuff.

Perlman, Hartnett, Geckt, and the rest of a cast that includes Demi Moore as Perlman’s lover and Woody Harrelson as a bartender who serves his drinks with a side of exposition speak in identical I’m-trying-to-sound-badass monotones; the backgrounds may be vibrantly colorful, but the people populating the environments are all depressingly gray. “Bunraku” doesn’t lack for ideas, just cohesive ones. The result is a movie that is less than the sum of the YouTube clip someone will surely make of all its best fight scenes.

“Bunraku” is available now on Video On Demand. It opens in theaters on September 30. If you see it, we want to hear what you think. Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.

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It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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