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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…