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  • The Yakuza

    The Yakuza

    ★★★★

    WWII-vet Bob Mitchum is tasked by an old buddy to negotiate a misunderstanding in Tokyo with some very bad men, and things quickly go to shit. What is simple on paper is given many layers via the masterful direction of Sydney Pollack and the twisty humanism of screenwriters Paul Schrader and Bob Towne. The real star of the show is not actually Mitchum but Ken Takakura, the heavyweight star of many a Japanese tough-guy drama. His ex-Yakuza is a principled…

  • Eyes of Laura Mars

    Eyes of Laura Mars

    ★★★★

    John Carpenter wrote this Manhattan giallo, directed by Irvin Kershner, and starring Faye Dunaway and Tommy Lee Jones. I think this is forgotten in the great list of Turn-Of-The-’80s NYC films due to the use of so many pregentrification locations in Soho and Tribeca right in that sordid pre-Koch/John Lindsay era. The supporting cast is a deep bench of ace players like Rene Auberjonois, Brad Dourif, and Darlanne Fluegel, each pulling their weight and then some. The plot is simple:…

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  • Uncut Gems

    Uncut Gems

    ★★★★★

    We're gonna be talking about this movie for years to come: Benny and Josh Safdie have outdone their previous effort, "Good Time," with this amped-up take on Jimmy Toback's "The Gambler." Sandler is a total degenerate, wagering anything he can get his hands on laying the seeds for his downfall with each risky parlay bet made on the flimsiest of hunches. The Safdies get tremendous supporting turns from Kevin Garnett, Lakeith Stanfield, Eric Bogosian, and Julia Fox among others, mixing…

  • Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

    Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

    ★★★½

    The Golden Age of Hollywood was lined with shame and secrets, and people have been spilling the tea continually since then. (Kenneth Anger's seminal "Hollywood Babylon" is nearing its sixtieth anniversary, in fact.) It's common knowledge that many directors and actors lived double lived in the spotlight, to better adhere to post-Hays Code morality clauses laid down by the studio mandarins. But for as many Rock Hudsons as we knew about, there are still more people who went to their…