THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD
Cleverly dubbed a "kimchi Western" by one critic, Kim Ji-woon's 2008 film is a retelling of Sergio Leone's iconic spaghetti Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Such culture thievery has a long history — Leone's Dollars trilogy was itself inspired by Kurosawa's Yojimbo, which carries more than a hint of Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest — and in this case the result is exhilarating entertainment. The film presents three men (good, bad and weird) competing to make their fortunes in the 1930s Manchurian desert. Song Kang-ho (The Host) gives a memorable performance as the "weird" character, a train robber who finds a map to a lost Qing Dynasty treasure. He has swift competition in the form of a bandit chief, Chang-yi (Lee Byung-hun from Kim's A Bittersweet Life), and a bounty hunter, Do-won (Jung Woo-sung), who's also after the price on Chang-yi's head. Packed with heists, gun-twirling shootouts and the kind of chase scenes that feature horses, motorcycles and trains — not to mention an inspired bit with a deep-sea diving helmet — Weird is far more fast-paced and thrilling than Hollywood's bloated, exposition-heavy recent efforts. In Korean, Mandarin and Japanese with subtitles, this is part of the first week of Vanderbilt's excellent semester-long "International Lens" series, free and open to the public. 7 p.m. on Sept. 1 at Vanderbilt's Sarratt Cinema. Also showing this week: Infernal Affairs, the nifty Hong Kong thriller that inspired Scorsese's The Departed, midnight on August 28 in the Commons Multipurpose Room. EMILY BARTLETT HINES
LA LOI (THE LAW)
Made five decades ago and all but forgotten until recently, when Beastie Boy Adam Yauch's distribution company Oscilloscope picked it up for reissue, Jules Dassin's erotic melodrama lives up to the bodice-ripper of a title it got for U.S. release back in 1960 — Where the Hot Wind Blows. The hot wind of a Mediterranean town fans the cleavage and ruffles the skirts of sex bomb Gina Lollobrigida, the housekeeper to grandee Pierre Brasseur. While ducking the advances of the local crime lord (Yves Montand, complete with bad-ass scar), she angles to get a dowry and marriage to suave pauper Marcello Mastroianni while the town's men face off in what passes for the local law: a cutthroat drinking game with dangerously high stakes. Dassin, the American noir specialist (Thieves' Highway, Brute Force) who was hounded into French exile by the communist witch hunt — and subsequently reinvented his career with the seminal heist movie Rififi — directed in customary sledgehammer style, making this great hothouse fun. The movie kicks off a dynamite string of weekend classics at The Belcourt, including Paul Newman as The Hustler (Sept. 4-6), Dario Argento's hair-raising Suspiria (Sept. 18-20), Jack Nicholson ordering wheat toast for the ages in Five Easy Pieces (Sept. 25-27), and one of the sickest noirs of all time, the unnerving Technicolor marvel Leave Her to Heaven (Sept. 11-13). Aug. 27-29 at The Belcourt JIM RIDLEY
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