THE YAKUZA
1975, Warner Bros., 112 min, USA, Dir: Sydney Pollack

Sydney Pollack directs this potent, poignant thriller that blends American neo-noir and the then-peaking Japanese yakuza film genre. Robert Mitchum is a world-weary private eye who joins up with a taciturn kendo instructor (yakuza movie icon Ken Takakura), who has a wartime obligation to Mitchum. Likewise, Mitchum owes past wartime comrade Tanner (Brian Keith) a favor as well, and it’s a humdinger: Rescue Tanner’s kidnapped daughter in Japan. A labyrinthine plot is set in motion, and soon Mitchum and Takakura become embroiled in a horrifying series of double crosses and mixed signals that result in a trail of bloody retribution. Adapting the story by Leonard Schrader, Paul Schrader and Robert Towne wrote the moody screenplay. Co-starring Richard Jordan (THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE), Keiko Kishi, Herb Edelman, Eiji Okada. The sleek production design by Stephen B. Grimes not only evokes the spartan Japanese lifestyle but also amply reflects an atmosphere where cold, serpentine violence can strike from the darkness like a coiled viper. “Mitchum is at his laconic leaden-eyed best as the private eye who is forced to team up with a reformed criminal played by Takakura, an icon of the Japanese gangster genre … there are enough double-crosses to satisfy the most jaded fans of the genre.” – Channel 4 Film (U.K.)


HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1978)
2016, Paramount, 101 min, USA, Dir: Warren Beatty, Buck Henry

When quarterback Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty) is mistakenly taken to heaven before his time, the powers-that-be send him back to Earth in the body of an eccentric millionaire. Julie Christie, Jack Warden and Charles Grodin co-star in this sweet and hilarious comedy that earned nine Academy Award nominations, including four for Beatty as writer, director, producer and actor.


THE POPE OF GREENWICH VILLAGE
1984, Park Circus/MGM, 120 min, USA, Dir: Stuart Rosenberg

Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts star as a pair of hard-luck thieves determined to make one big score, in director Stuart Rosenberg’s lyrical New York crime drama. Watch for excellent supporting work from a gallery of great character actors, including M. Emmet Walsh, Burt Young, Philip Bosco and a wonderful, snarling performance by Geraldine Page as a grieving mother.


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