So I just had a very good day. Hope you did too.
Got some writing done. Then went out, had a fine dinner with friends, watched a good movie -
- for the second time in a few days (still good), came home. Then wrote some more!
How was your day?
My excellent friends John and Gail Miller threw a barbeque in honor of the Fourth of July. A bunch of folks were there, including some I was especially pleased to see, since I hadn’t in a long time: computer wiz Steve Wix, his wife Sara, and daughter Lily; the unreasonably charismatic Kirk and his unreasonably beautiful wife Terry (whose last names I don’t know); John’s mother and aunt; Jane Lindskold and her husband Jim Moore, an archeologist and old friend; Lynn Kaczor; and Steve “S. M.” and Jan Stirling.
John grilled up a bunch of hamburgers, and hot dogs and Coneys of some special sort from Syracuse, New York – well, they are awfully good hot dogs. Steve Stirling made one of his excellent salads. There was plenty of good food – and more than enough that I could eat.
Low-carb tortillas and low-sugar ketchup are also my friends.
After we ate we talked for a while. After everybody left but Lynn, the Stirlings, and me, John suggested watching Bunraku. Steve and Jan were game.
So was I. Even though I’d seen it over there Saturday evening. And it turned out I liked it at least as much a second time.
As Gail said the first time through, it’s exceedingly stylish. And John summed it up neatly as John is wont to do, saying, “I like a movie that’s not afraid to take chances. And this one’s pretty much all taking chances.”
And for my money, the chances pay off more often than not.
It’s basically a combination of Spaghetti Western, samurai flick, film noir, graphic novel, and the ever-popular dystopian SF. It’s similar to Sin City in approach (and not just because it stars Josh Hartnett as one of our two Wandering Heroes), and also to Takashi Miike‘s genre-bending Sukiyaki Western Django. Except unlike the latter, this one isn’t so style-drenched that you can’t follow the damn dialogue.
And that’s key to me: style-heavy though it is, the movie never gets so self-conscious it hides the story – or hides enough characterization that it’s hard to care about what happens.
Though there is one big fight scene, toward the end, that made me laugh out loud because it reminded me of the awesome C Melinda Priest‘s capsule review of Batman: Arkham City: “Batman has had it up to here with all these fucking Juggalos.”
Along with Hartnett (whose character manages to suggest cowboy and film noir detective at once), Japanese pop god GACKT is a serviceable Hero who’s a samurai without a sword; Woody Harrelson is surprisingly awesome as The Bartender (who stirs far more than drinks); Kevin McKidd is appropriately chilling as a killer who’s basically James Ellroy with a Scots accent and mad sword skills; Demi Moore looks surprisingly good and is perhaps surprisingly effective as a dissolute madam/kept woman, who nonetheless maintains her own defiant integrity; and Ron Perlman, who by law must be in every movie with even vaguely SF or fantasy themes, plays a great brooding, thoughtful, and tormented, but charismatic, Big Bad Guy. Of course. Because he’s Ron freakin’ Perlman.
(Ron Perlman = the new Lance Henriksen? Discuss.)
The second viewing was enjoyable even so close after the first because, first, it’s a good movie; and second, that it is so stylish, and there’s so much going on, that it’s just not possible to catch everything on a single run-through. (Bunraku is Japanese puppet theater – as we belatedly remembered two-thirds of the way through the movie the first time. Think that may be symbolic? Just a hair.)
I give it four bullets out of five, and a hearty recommendation. If the above description looks like something you’d like to see (as opposed to making you want to run screaming), you’ll probably like this one.
And after all that – more writing on the senses-shattering sequel to The Dinosaur Lords!
Plus Emma Dog, thank gods, wasn’t too traumatized by all the fireworks when I got home, though she’s quite scared of them.
That’s what I all a good day.