Kaiju Bunraku


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Kaiju Bunraku
"A delight of hybrid vigour."

In my notes for Kaiju Bunraku I wrote that it was "a singular vision executed with flawless abandon" but that was after I had the chance to consider because the first version of that sentiment that I wrote was, "fucking amazing".

Kaiju are giant monsters of Japanese cinema - your King Ghidorah, your Godzilla, your Mothra. Bunraku is the Japanese theatre tradition where black-clad artists draw subtlety and nuance from puppets and detailed miniature sets. The two traditions are here unified with a perspective born from distance - Kaiju Bunraku is from Miami.

Filmed in front of a live audience, it is a work that draws incredible strength from juxtaposition but also from skill. Beautifully scripted (two lines, one about a pebble, one about vocabulary, are heartbreaking), beautifully 'acted', it's an absolute treat.

A product of the Borscht Corporation collective, as well as a formally trained Bunraku master and troupe, this is a delight of hybrid vigour - Jillian Mayers and Lucas Leyva have made something splendid. As the father of the strange beast ('kaiju' translated) Godzilla returns from Toho and prepares for a bout with the charismatic megafauna of Skull Island and whomever else can be crowbarred into the physically largest cast of characters of yet another cinematic universe your reviewer hopes that ephemera, marginalia, delightful apocryphya like this will find a wider audience. After seeing it at Glasgow's Short Film Festival I made sure a loved one (one with a Pacific Rim inspired 'Kaiju Junkie' tattoo) got to the second screening of the programme. If it were in my power to ensure that you, dear reader, could see this film yourself then I would do so too.

Borscht have already had one retrospective at GSFF and I would hope this would go straight into a second. Kaiju Bunraku was well received at Sundance too, so if (and hopefully when) it appears on Borscht's easily found Haitian registered (borsc.ht) website you should seek it out and see it. Admittedly, kaiju are no strangers to legal troubles - it is hard to hear the fanfare of Gojira's theme without thinking of TOHO's lawyers lying in wait for Pharoahe Monch - but I'd hope that this masterpiece is not subject to such vicissitudes. If you see this listed and have the opportunity to go, do.

Reviewed on: 25 Aug 2017
Share this with others on...
Here's a day in the life of a husband and wife living in a world of giant monsters.

Director: Jillian Mayer, Lucas Leyva

Writer: Lucas Leyva

Year: 2017

Runtime: 14 minutes

Country: US


GSFF 2017

Search database: