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A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop

A Chinese/Western re-boot of Blood Simple

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Director Zhang Yimou has done hothouse arthouse (Raise the Red Lantern) and stylized martial arts (Hero). Now he creates a unique hybrid: a retelling of an American dark comedic thriller, the Coens' Blood Simple, through the lens of a spaghetti Western, all set a couple centuries ago in a noodle shop in a desolate stretch of Asian desert. The story is as old as time: The unhappy young wife of a mean rich man buys a gun. The husband, meanwhile, contracts a corrupt policeman to kill the wife and her lover. But the outcomes are complicated by double- (and triple-) crosses, as well as the comic bumblings of two servants. As expected, the film is rich with color and dramatic landscapes, with gorgeous light. It moves slower than the Coens' feature, but is reminiscent of the long, dialogueless sequences that mark Leone films. Despite the odd -- even jarring -- moments of slapstick, this film is languid and highly stylized, more likely to intrigue the more patient arthouse fans than those who demand continuous or thrilling action. In Mandarin, with subtitles. Starts Fri., Oct. 15. Harris

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