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.)


BLUE COLLAR
1978, Universal, 114 min, USA, Dir: Paul Schrader

Paul Schrader’s directorial debut is one of his best pictures and remains one of the most searing accounts ever of the urban working man’s life in America. Harvey Keitel, Richard Pryor and Yaphet Kotto are auto plant workers and best friends who are less than happy with their severely corrupt union. When their nocturnal burglary of the union’s safe nets cash along with a startling revelation of cooked books - kickbacks, payoffs and collusion with organized crime - the lives of the three comrades become a nightmare of looking-over-their-shoulders paranoia. The director co-wrote the screenplay with his brother, Leonard Schrader (THE YAKUZA), and the amazing original score is by Jack Nitzsche (PERFORMANCE), with an unforgettable hard blues-rock opening-credits song warbled by none other than Captain Beefheart. A film comparable in street credibility and manic energy to Scorsese’s MEAN STREETS - if you have never seen this, it is not to be missed. "Very probably the most clear-sighted movie ever made about the ways that shopfloor workers get f*****d over by 'the system.'" - Time Out (UK)


MISHIMA: A LIFE IN FOUR CHAPTERS
1985, Janus Films, 121 min, USA/Japan, Dir: Paul Schrader

The tumultuous life of Japanese writer Yukio Mishima serves as the subject for what many consider director Paul Schrader’s masterpiece. To a score by Philip Glass, the film interweaves several narratives (each with its own distinctive look) drawn from Mishima’s youth, his novels and the attempted coup that ended in his ritual suicide. “The most unconventional biopic I've ever seen, and one of the best.” – Roger Ebert. In Japanese and English with English subtitles.


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