Apparently angered that Ang Lee's Lust, Caution was not accepted as the official entrant for Best Foreign Language Film for Taiwan, several hundred sites have unleashed a vicious computer virus. OK, I'm making up the motivation, but the threat may be real. A Chinese software security company told Reuters: "People should be wary of Web sites that offer free downloading services because their personal passwords can be stolen." The spokesperson also said that a multitude of sites promoting the film are embedded with viruses and estimated that 15% of download links were contaminated.

How did the software company discover the virus? Reuters says: "An engineer with the company encountered the virus last week; his screen went blank and he lost his instant messaging password." Wait a minute ... an engineer with the company? The company that just happens to make anti-virus software? That raises suspicions right there, but, to be fair, I suppose that part of an engineer's job when he works for an anti-virus software company is to try and discover viruses ... starting by downloading movies with the word "Lust" in the title.

Despite a statement by producer (and co-head of US distributor Focus Features) James Schamus that the filmmakers "weren't going to change a frame" to avoid the dreaded NC-17 rating, Ang Lee decided to cut about 1,000 frames from Lust, Caution in order to gain approval for distribution in Mainland China. The film has been a big hit, earning more than US$12 million in its first two weeks of release there.

Once again, kids, this is a reminder: the only safe download is no download. Support your local theater!

[ Via CNET News.com ]