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Movie review: 'Bunraku'

'Bunraku' gets lost in its bells and whistles.

September 30, 2011|By Robert Abele | Los Angeles Times
  • A still of Josh Hartnett as the Drifter in "Bunraku."
A still of Josh Hartnett as the Drifter in "Bunraku." (Picturesque Films )

The mixed-influences fight epic "Bunraku" is so desensitizing with its hyper-stylized distractions and movie references it feels more mush-up than mash-up.

Writer/director Guy Moshe's tedious, confusing tale of a mumbling spaghetti-western drifter (Josh Hartnett), an honorable Japanese swordsman (Gackt) and the assassin-protected crime boss (Ron Perlman) they must ultimately fight is a superficial jag of hot colors, digitally enhanced staginess, swooping cameras and wink-wink jokiness.

"Bunraku" is the grabbiest of aesthetic grab bags: comic books, paper art, German Expressionism, Sergio Leone, samurai flicks, gangster dramas, even the circus. Plus, there's Woody Harrelson (as a bartender) and Demi Moore (as a kept concubine) to make you long for them in "Indecent Proposal."

No image or moment is grounded – every shot is augmented with restless animation, smart-ass narration or video game sounds. The artificiality of it all is smothering.


"Bunraku." MPAA rating: R for Running time: 2 hours, 2 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.

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