Painted Desert

Movies
The Shochiku company's first English-language production has the slightly clammy air of something pulled out of a film buff's closet (that's what comes from getting Hollywood obsessive Masato Harada to direct and co-write it), but it plays remarkably well. A heavily guarded Mafia capo holes up in a desert villa fearful of assassination. The only visitor allowed in is the chef from the rundown local diner - a handsome young Japanese man recently found dying in the desert, who turns out to have his own secret agenda. Some of the plot's Japanese baggage is clumsily integrated, but the dialogue is witty and the playing absolutely charming. Best of all is James Gammon, plucked from character-actor obscurity and pushed centre stage as a grizzled, seen-it-all gangster with old-time manners out of a John Ford movie.

By: TR

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