Haute High Lights

Movie of the Week:

I Saw The Devil — Nuart Theatre — Opens Friday

For the past decade, South Korea has remained one of the most consistent exporters of thrilling, intelligent cinema. The latest film from Kim Jee-woon, I Saw The Devil has already shaken up audiences at Sundance, and will play for a limited week-long engagement at the Nuart Theatre starting tomorrow.

The premise is at once repugnant and intriguing. The great Choi Min-sik portrays a brutish serial killer whose latest victim is the pregnant fiancée of Dae-hoon (Lee Byung-hyun), a government agent. Consumed with the fantasy of revenge like so many doomed figures before him, Dae-hoon begins a vicious hunt for the killer, shedding every shred of his humanity and moral decency in the process.

These days, only a Korean filmmaker could get away with a premise this grim. From Chen-wook Park’s Lady Vengeance to Kim Ki-duk’s Bad Guy, the nation’s auteurs have continually taken the coarsest of material from the Tarantino bucket and made it flourish with visual imagination and the poetic screams of Plath and Catullus. Whether the trend will continue with I Saw The Devil remains to be seen, but the odds are unnervingly strong.

Music Video of the Week:

“Need You Now” — Cut Copy

The trap that all indie pop acts risk falling into is that of self-seriousness — believing the grandiose raves of Pitchfork and Brooklyn Vegan to the point of an embarrassing downfall. Thankfully, Australian disco revivalists Cut Copy have gamely averted that pitfall with their latest music video for “Need You Now,” the first track off of their recent Zonoscope.

Directed by Keith Schofield and shot before a simple painted backdrop of Los Angeles, the video features frontman Dan Whitford and Co. at their instruments as a caravan of athletes runs around them in all directions like badly garbed electrons. Given the song’s aching tone, this explosion of day-glo, nunchucks and tennis balls is particularly arresting, not to mention hilarious. Keep your eyes peeled for the video’s highlight: a Grizzly Adams-esque hockey player whacking a bowling ball toward the camera with a tennis racket.

After many slow motion closeups of all the “players” involved, the video crumbles into violence as the athletes take up medieval weapons and go Braveheart on each other while the band begins the song’s gorgeous breakdown. Where this bizarre idea came from is as great a mystery as how Whitford manages to make black jeans and a button-down work shirt look so effortlessly cool.

Still, the video is a comforting assurance that Cut Copy walks with the same balance of passion and self-deprecation wielded by Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem and other legends of dance pop.

Song of the Week:

“You’re So Right” — The Strokes — RCA — Streaming on NME.com

“Under Cover of Darkness” was a pleasant, if predictable, return to form for The Strokes, but “You’re So Right,” the second released track from its forthcoming LP Angles, is an entirely different beast.

Beginning with a snarl of looped guitars and a foreboding bass riff, the track is an unusually synthetic work for the New York garage quintet. Julian Casablancas’ vocals are bizarrely filtered and layered, sometimes beyond recognition, as the song builds toward a brilliantly spare breakdown of dissonant cries and, finally, some serious shredding.

Tonally, “You’re So Right” is a bleak outing for The Strokes, inviting curiosity as to what other surprises the new album might hold. Casablancas has already said of the song, “I had some early REM vibes for a minute or two. It’s a darker one.” Let’s hope the band’s other influences and byproducts are also as sonically interesting.

Event of the Week:

TruckIt Fest — Union Station – Sunday, 11 a.m. —  5 p.m.
Those who braved hours in the sun amid slow-moving lines for the city’s first food truck festival in Downtown Los Angeles can haul out the sunscreen and cash once again. Forty local food trucks will converge at Union Station on Sunday for TruckIt Fest, a celebration of a uniquely Californian trend — gourmet food on wheels.
Among the trucks slated for appearances are Asian-fusion favorite Komodo, the wonderfully spicy India Jones Chow Truck and the ominously titled Greasy Wiener. In addition, 200 vendors will be on the premises, selling everything from organic T-shirts to handmade jewelry and crafts. For those watching their waistlines, have no fear. A rock climbing wall will also be available for vaporizing those high calories.
Regular tickets are $5 and VIPs are $45. Though the latter might seem rather high, serious foodies should consider the perks of the VIP ticket — table service from any truck, early entry, a private lounge and even a $10 food voucher. As a veteran of last year’s well-intentioned but overcrowded festival, I can say this — spend the extra dollars. Your stomach, and your legs, won’t regret it.