Bashira had its regional premiere at FilmQuest 2022 this October. The movie follows an electronic musician and a troubled fan who are plunged into a hallucinogenic nightmare where they must confront an ancient Japanese entity. Specifically, this entity is capable of bending space and time and wreaking havoc and death.
Bashira is a gorgeously designed movie that is best described as a live-action anime. It benefits from director/co-creator Nickson Fong’s eye for computer graphics and visual effects. His aesthetic is one of the things that keeps us leaning forward for the duration of the film. There are so many cool moments that would make awesome prints and posters. Some of the scenes in Andy’s (Liam Aiken) apartment building felt like a mix between Silent Hill and mid-90s era Bush videos. There are moments in Lela’s (Mitzi Akaha) journey that put most live-action Disney movies to shame. Because the Bashira took nine years to make, it makes sense that it is so visually appealing.
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Bashira attempts to merge music, VFX, and two intertwining stories into a 124-minute run-time. While the effects are amazing, the music took me out of the world a few times. Music is the connective tissue between Andy and Lela’s journeys. However, the way it’s inserted feels more like musical moments that belong to a different world. The two stories are a little hard to follow. The story only made sense after the timeline was explained by the director during the Q&A after the screening.
The visuals are stunning and steal focus for most of the movie. I was very confused about why Lela’s scene would end with her and her world dissolving into Andy’s story. Some scenes felt like they were built as more cool transitions than as scenes to push the story forward. That’s part of the reason why when Andy’s friend, Chris (Brandon Gill), is in danger it’s hard to tell where and when it’s happening. I kept having that internal struggle of letting go of plot and character points that felt like they were missing. Having to constantly remind myself to let it go and just enjoy the experience of watching a beautiful movie is possibly a sign that I’m not the audience for Bashira.
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I loved looking at this movie even if I had a hard time following the story. My biggest gripe is the musical moments felt weirdly forced into the world, but I’m not big on musicals to begin with. I think Bashira is a fine addition to the live-action anime world. I think it’s perfectly okay for movies to swing big and land on fine. Especially compared to movies that don’t take any chances and end up being an awful time.
Let me know if you watched Bashira at @misssharai.
This movie is probably a good time for people who are into live-action films, anime, and musicals. The story is a little hard to follow, and it does at times feel like more of a showcase for visual effects than a movie.
Tags: Bashira FilmQuest 2022
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