The Memory of a Killer, directed by Erik Van Looy, is a slick piece of commercial filmmaking from Belgium, if the Flemish doesn't blind you, or rather deafen you, to the commercialism. The dark-and-stormy-night opening -- a stealthy approach to the exterior of a sedate apartment building, an unsettling scene of a father selling his underage daughter as a prostitute -- is a grabber, and the plot premise of an aging hired killer with incipient Alzheimer's (jotting notes to himself on his arm, like the forgetful hero of Memento) manages not to be a joke. The plot, in fact, nicely thickens: the killer balks at the inclusion of a child on his hit list, and in consequence is himself added to the list by his unknown employers. They and the cops are separately searching for him, while he in turn is searching for the former and running from the latter. You could easily see Jack Nicholson or Tommy Lee Jones in the lead role, and Bruce Willis or Ben Affleck as the intrepid cop on his trail. Given Hollywood's proclivity for foraging among foreign films, you may, in time, see exactly that. Or roughly that.
Crimen Perfecto (literally, Perfect Crime) is a Spanish-language black comedy, a classification which would still today raise the specter of Luis Buñuel, even without the specific sight of the mannequin in the furnace. (See The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz, from the master's Mexican period.) Director Alex de la Iglesia, like other followers in those footsteps, finds a paved highway where his forerunner had to hack out a path in the wilderness. Almost inevitably, the story of a dapper lady-killer blackmailed into fidelity to a wallflower is black comedy at its cheeriest: as jaunty as the Saturday Night Fever strut of the hero. (The green-faced ghost with a cleaver in his head -- the grounds for blackmail -- is fit for nothing more than an amusement-park Haunted House.) The film perhaps has a little something to say -- a very little -- about the superficiality of modern culture and its preoccupation with skin-deep beauty. Booked into the Ken for a week beginning Friday, it will do duty as September's offering in the monthly Cinema en Tu Idioma series. Hazard Center, the long-time home of that series, is still in an unsettled state, having just changed hands from Mann to UltraStar. The return there of the above-mentioned Asian festival, however, bodes well for the theater's continuing hospitality.