As an appetizer for next weekend's opening of Stoker — the English-language debut of South Korean director Park Chan-wook, shot in Nashville last year with Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska — The Belcourt is showing Park's 2004 Cannes prizewinner Oldboy at midnight this Friday and Saturday. Already anticipation is growing for Spike Lee's remake this fall with Josh Brolin.
Here's what the Scene said back in 2005 about Oldboy:
Last year at Cannes, no sooner had a Tarantino-led jury awarded Park Chan-wook’s revenge thriller a major prize than critics started attacking it as a Kill Bill clone and violent trash. It isn’t, unless you consider The Revenger’s Tragedy a sackful of cheap thrills. The second film in Park’s otherwise unrelated “revenge trilogy” — the first, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, opens next month in Nashville — it rips open the emotional mechanism of vengeance and finds no satisfaction, only self-destruction.
Of the premise, you should know no more than it begins with the abduction of a drunken family man: what follows is the most devious mindfuck of a plot since Memento, adapted with De Palma-esque bravado by the South Korean writer-director from a Japanese manga. The last half-hour essentially turns the theater seat into a Tilt-a-Whirl. Park’s sick humor, outrageous violence and stylistic cartwheels may make this a less sober film than Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, but its impact is no less devastating. Like Memento, the movie’s ultimately a sad study of human nature’s desperate strategies for giving life shape and meaning. Not for the squeamish — the hero’s notorious meal of wriggling live octopus got Park in hot water with animal-rights groups — but for those with strong stomachs, this is one of the year’s best movies.
It's worth noting that Oldboy is but one of the seven movies The Belcourt is showing on its two screens this weekend, including a ’50s Western (Anthony Mann's Winchester ’73), a ’60s French comedy (Pierre Étaix's Yoyo), the latest by Iran's Abbas Kiarostami (Like Someone in Love), an Israeli documentary (The Gatekeepers), the amazing Leviathan, and the Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli classic Castle in the Sky. Not a dud in the bunch.