Two more films in a couple of breaths

‘Triad Election’ and ‘Once’ both come from afar, both might make you cry, but for entirely different reasons

Michael Garberich

;”Once” is a contemporary pop musical directed by The Frame’s ex-bassist John Carney. The band’s current vocalist and guitarist Glen Hansard stars.

“Triad Election”

DIRECTED BY: Johnny To
STARRING: Louis Koo, Simon Yam and Nick Cheung
RATED: Not Rated
PLAYING AT: Lagoon Cinema, 1320 Lagoon Ave., Minneapolis, (612) 825-6006, www.landmarktheatres.com

What you’ll see (or hear, as it were): An unbearably undisciplined camera tracks an offbeat couple – credited as struggling musician and part-time vacuum repairman, “Guy” (Hansard) and Czech émigré, “Girl” (Markéta Irglová). Both maintain close links to recent amours, and the two-week long glimpse is all the more fleeting because of them.

Together they create spontaneous keyboard-and-guitar laden rock you can expect to hear on Cities 97 while stuck at the juncture of 35W and I-94 heading west between 3 and 5 p.m.

It’s what Zach Braff and Natalie Portman would have done if they had musical talent instead of a drab ear for ultra-contemporary niche-market indie music. Could be more dreadful, wants to be too adorable.

Watching part two of Johnny To’s gangster trilogy about Hong Kong’s Triad Society is like rewatching Michael Corleone gradually assume his place in the family business, only doing it in Hong Kong and taking half the time.

“Once”

DIRECTED BY: Jonathan Carney
STARRING: Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová and Geoff Minogue
RATED: R
PLAYING AT: Uptown Theatre, 2906 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, (612) 825-6006,
www.landmarktheatres.com

What you’ll see: An eternally underlit, ultra-urban Hong Kong that’s anything but urbane. “Swarthy” nearly captures the mood, but doesn’t account for the butcher knife the anti-hero Jimmy (Louis Koo) wields an hour in (or the German Shepherds that reap its product).

“Triad’s” brand of intensity has been elsewhere achieved in 2005’s little-screened “The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael” (Thomas Clay), or earlier by “Kids” and for some, “A Clockwork Orange.” It’s an intensity not in its subject per se, but in the sober manner in which it dissects that subject, ripping it apart, quite literally, and leaving it in pieces. Here “NR” means “Not Rated” and “No Remorse.”