The American Cinemtheque Presents Classic Japanese Films at the Aero Theatre

Jan 4th 2007
THE AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE PRESENTS
CLASSIC JAPANESE FILMS AT THE AERO THEATRE


Kevin Thomas' Favorite Films - Kenji Mizoguchi's LIFE OF OHARU
Wednesday, January 17

Director Akira Kurosawa Retrospective
January 18 - 31


HOLLYWOOD -The American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre presents
Classic Japanese Films at the Aero Theatre in January.

On Wednesday, January 17th at 7:30 PM is Kenji Mizoguchi's LIFE OF
OHARU (1952, Janus Films, 137 min.), which is screening as film critic
Kevin Thomas' Favorite Films series.

On January 18 - 31 is a Retrospective of the work of Director Akira
Kurosawa. The series includes STRAY DOG and RASHOMON (Winner of the Grand
Prix at the Venice International Film Festival and Best Foreign
Language Film Oscar), twelve of Kurosawa's most popular and fascinating works
are presented with the highly influential THE SEVEN SAMURAI (which was
remade into the THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN); his reworking of Shakespeare's
"Macbeth" entitled THRONE OF BLOOD; his dark crime tale, THE BAD SLEEP
WELL; his action-packed chanbara YOJIMBO and its follow-up, SANJURO;
his tale of compassion and hope amidst illness and death, RED BEARD;
DERSU UZALA, a Russian story filmed for two years in the barren wasteland
of Siberia; and two phenomenal, boldly moving and epic samurai
tragedies, KAGEMUSHA and Kurosawa's "King Lear" adaptation, RAN. All screenings
are at the Max Palevsky Theatre at the Aero Theatre (1328 Montana Ave)
in Santa Monica. Tickets available through www.fandango.com.

Born in 1910 to a family descended from samurais, Akira Kurosawa
initially intended to be a painter, but found himself drifting away from it
when he saw an ad in a newspaper for assistant director positions at
Photo Chemical Laboratory (P.C.L.) film studios (which later became TOHO
Studios). Kurosawa applied and was accepted, soon finding himself under
the mentorship of director Kajiro
Yamamoto, under whose guidance he flourished. He began by writing
highly original screenplays such as WRESTLING RING FESTIVAL and THE STORY
OF A BAD HORSE. After various attempts at directing his own feature, it
finally came to pass in Yokohama in 1942 with SANSHIRO SUGATA. "After
the tests were done and we were ready to shoot, with the cameras
rolling I gave the call for action, 'Yoi, staato!' ('Ready, start!') The
whole crew turned to stare at me. Apparently my voice sounded a little
peculiar. I had done plenty of second-unit directing for Yama-san, but,
no matter how much experience you have, when you finally reach the
point of directing your own first film you are in a state of extreme
tension. But from the second shot my tension disappeared; everything just
felt exciting, and all I wanted to do was hurry on." - Akira Kurosawa,
Something Like an Autobiography.

Early films include THE MOST BEAUTIFUL, SANSHIRO SUGATA PART II, THE
MEN WHO TREAD ON THE TIGER'S TAIL, NO REGRETS FOR OUR YOUTH, ONE
WONDERFUL SUNDAY and DRUNKEN ANGEL (the latter being the first of his fruitful
collaborations with powerhouse actor Toshiro Mifune and dynamic
composer Hayasaka Fumio), and his superb STRAY DOG. Since bursting upon the
international film scene in 1950 with his eleventh century period film,
RASHOMON, Winner of the Grand Prix at the Venice International Film
Festival and Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Kurosawa was placed firmly
into the top ranks of world filmmakers. His films accomplish what only
the masters manage to do, a seamless marriage of compelling
entertainment with challenging, brilliant and unique aesthetic expression. The
influence of the culture of the West on his films is considerable, and in
turn Kurosawa's influence on the films of the West and, indeed, world
cinema is vast and incalculable. When he died in 1998, cinema lost !
one of its greatest masters.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007: Aero Theatre
Presented as Part of the Series:
KEVIN THOMAS' FAVORITE FILMS: LIFE OF OHARU

The Wednesday, January 17th program is a 7:30 PM screening of LIFE OF
OHARU (SAIKAKU ICHIDAI ONNA), (1952, Janus Films, 137 min.), directed by
Kenji Mizoguchi. Based on one of Japan's first novels, the 17th century
The Woman Who Loved Love by Saikaku Ihara. Kinuyo Tanaka is Oharu, a
samurai's daughter expelled from her station as a lady-in-waiting at the
Imperial Palace for falling-in-love with a man below her rank. Driven
into exile along with her parents, she soon resorts to being a kept
woman then finally a common prostitute. Mizoguchi expertly walks a
tightrope, delivering an unflinching examination of a sensitive woman's
emotional brutalization without manipulative sentimentality. Another
masterwork with Ichiro Sugai, Toshiro Mifune. Film critic Kevin Thomas will
introduce the screening.

DIRECTOR AKIRA KUROSAWA RETROSPECTIVE
Thursday, January 18, 2007: Aero Theatre
The Thursday, January 18th program is a 7:30 PM screening of STRAY DOG
(NORA INU), (1949, Janus Films, 122 min.). One sweltering summer day,
young police detective Toshiro Mifune has his gun lifted from him on a
bus. Impatient Mifune makes frenzied efforts to find the homicidal
fugitive responsible, both to atone to his superiors, and to his calm,
middle-aged partner (Takashi Shimura), thus proving his worth as a cop, and
leaving viewers breathless. Director Akira Kurosawa loved hardboiled
American crime fiction, and there is no more conspicuous proof in his
early career than in STRAY DOG. An expertly-paced, atmospheric suspense
film that more than holds its own against the numerous noirs that were
being produced across the Pacific in the United States. With Keiko Awaji,
Isao Kimura.

Friday, January 19, 2007: Aero Theatre
The Friday, January 19th program is a 7:30 PM Double Feature. First up
is RASHOMON, (1950, Janus Films, 88 min.). The film which introduced
not only classic Japanese cinema, but an exceptional new talent, director
Akira Kurosawa to a widespread international audience. Based on the
short story "In a Grove" by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, a tragic event involving
a husband (Masayuki Mori), his wife (Machiko Kyō) and a local bandit
(Toshiro Mifune) is recounted by participants and witnesses yielding
conflicting accounts. Kurosawa explores the nature of truth, human
fallibility and hope in a story that examines each version of what happened one
hot, fateful day in a thick and lonely forest. With exceptional
cinematography from the great Kazuo Miyagawa and a phenomenally ecclectic
score from Fumio Hayasaka; and that's just a start. From the wonderfully
theatrical acting to the smooth-like-butter cuts-on-action, to the
astonishingly visceral orchestration of sound and images, RASHOMON cl!
early demonstrates Kurosawa's brilliance.

Next on the same bill is THRONE OF BLOOD, (KUMONOSU JÔ), (1957, Janus
Films, 105 min.). As its alternate English titles (COBWEB CASTLE and
CASTLE OF THE SPIDER'S WEB) suggest, director Akira Kurosawa's adaptation
of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" is a chilling blend of gothic melodrama and
samurai swordplay, Elizabethan tragedy and Noh Theater. Taketori
Washizu (Toshiro Mifune), inspired by a ghostly vision and coaxed by his
frighteningly ambitious spouse, Lady Asaji (Isuzu Yamada), conspires to
murder his lord to rise in the ranks to become eventual ruler. In the
process, he betrays friends and foes alike, is driven to madness along with
his cold-hearted spouse and overwhelmed by the violent forces of chaos.
With Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, Akira Kubo. "Kurosawa's Throne of
Blood is the grizzliest Macbeth you're likely ever to see. It's
powerful filmmaking and provides much revelatory cultural frisson. It also
features some of the best work of Kurosawa's alter-ego Toshiro Mifu!
ne." - Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle

Saturday, January 20, 2007: Aero Theatre
The Saturday, January 20th program is a 7:30 PM screening of RAN,
(1989, Wellspring, 160 min.). Arguably Akira Kurosawa's last masterpiece in
a career of masterpieces, this sensually epic and colorfully dream-like
samurai/Noh Theater rendition of Shakespeare's "King Lear" bleeds right
off the screen. A once-merciless and bloodthirsty Lord Hidetora
(Tatsuya Nakadai), now old, war-weary and bathing in the spoils of a lifetime
of plunder, leaves his kingdom to his three sons, TARO (Akira Terao),
Jiro (Jinpachi Nezu) and Saburo (Daisuke Ryu). Trouble arises when
youngest Saburo challenges his father's actions, and he is banished from
the kingdom, which is then left completely to his two brothers. As
Hidetora attempts to enjoy his retirement in the twilight years, the once
high king is dropped into a nightmarish hell when inter-filial squabbling
erupts. Kurosawa was seventy-nine years old when RAN was released, and
it shows in the easy lyricality and sure-handedness of one who!
has spent a lifetime making films. Yet it also has an inventiveness
and energy which most directors couldn't achieve at any age. It
perceptively focuses on the dark sides of power: jealousy, deceit and betrayal,
as well as Japanese ideas of obligation and honor, and, finally, hope
and redemption. But the deeply-flawed Lord Hidetora will not leave this
world unscathed, as his life will be wickedly spun and shaken. It is
not for naught that Kurosawa named this twilight masterpiece RAN (which
translates as "Chaos").

Sunday, January 21, 2007: Aero Theatre
The Sunday, January 21st program is a 7:30 PM screening of RED BEARD
(AKAHIGE), (1965, Janus Films, 185 min.). A period film set in samurai
times without a sword-wielding hero in sight, this remains one of Akira
Kurosawa's most humanistic efforts. The subject is a run-down infirmary
for the poor in feudal Japan where a confident, young novice physician,
Dr. Noboru (Yuzo Kayama) is sent to begin his career. Expecting to
visit only temporarily and then to leave to serve the Shogunate, he is
infuriated to learn he must remain at the destitute hospital, which is
brimming with society's dying poor, wretched and unwanted. Though he learns
that the patients need him, Noboru is quick to take measures that will
ensure his termination. But he is foiled at every turn by head man, Dr.
Kyojio, otherwise known as "Akahige" or "Red Beard" (Toshiro Mifune)
whose methods and behavior are as caring and compassionate as they are
unconventional and unpredictable. At times RED BEARD veers dager!
ously close to soap-box philosophizing and pretension. But ultimately
the film earns the emotions and ideas it attempts to evoke; the young
doctor's heart and mind are forever changed, and we are as enamored of
Red Beard and his patients as Noboru. And like the young Noboru and his
colleagues, we hope that when, one day, faced with such dire misfortune
and misery, we too may be like him.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007: Aero Theatre
The Wednesday, January 24th program is a 7:30 PM Double Feature. First
up is YOJIMBO, (1961, Janus Films, 110 min.). One of Akira Kurosawa's
'lighter' (and best) efforts finds sardonic gallows humor permeating a
near-perfect adventure film with recognizably human characters. Toshiro
Mifune plays Sanjuro, a shiftless ronin who wanders into a starving
village beset by a yakuza gang war between two rival clans. To make money
as well as amuse himself, he plays them off against each other and
nearly gets killed in the process. Tatsuya Nakadai does a memorable turn in
a comparatively small role as the pistol-packing dandy brother of one
of the bosses. Sergio Leone did an unauthorized remake, the
almost-as-good spaghetti western, A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. But Kurosawa, himself, got
the idea from Dashiell Hammet's tough-as-nails 1930's crime saga, Red
Harvest, about a nameless, hard-drinking operative in the midst of a
gang war in a small midwestern town.

Next on the same bill is SANJURO (TSUBAKI SANJURO), (1962, Janus Films,
96 min.). Director Akira Kurosawa helms this YOJIMBO sequel, utilizing
Shugoro Yamamoto's novel, Peaceful Days as a model. Wandering ronin,
Sanjuro (Toshiro Mifune) decides to help a young samurai (Yuzo Kayama)
and his brash cohorts when Kayama's uncle (Yûnosuke Itô), the chamberlain
of their clan, is framed by a corrupt supertintendent. Much of the
humor and character interplay is based on Mifune's scruffy appearance and
the seeming contradiction - at least to the proper adolescent swordsmen
- of his consummate, strategic skill. Tatsuya Nakadai is the prime
adversary, a proud samurai in the superintendent's employ every bit as
dangerous as Mifune. There's not nearly as much swordplay here as in
YOJIMBO - since the war is mainly one of words and subterfuge - but when the
final burst of violence erupts, courtesy of Mifune and Nakadai, it's a
dazzling shocker. Director Kihachi Okamoto went back to Yamamot!
o's orignal source novel for his own great, but very different,
action-packed version, KILL!.

Thursday, January 25, 2007: Aero Theatre
The Thursday, January 25th program is a 7:30 PM screening of DERSU
UZALA, (1975, Kino International, 141 min.). Director Akira Kurosawa was
pulling himself out of a suicidal depression when he agreed to helm this
Soviet-Japanese co-production, a film that went on to win an Oscar for
Best Foreign Language Film. When Captain Vladimir (Yuri Solomin) and
his Siberian forest expedition meet a diminutive mountain man, Dersu
Uzala (Maksim Munzuk) at their rural campsite, a friendship begins that
will span decades. Kurosawa perceptively and subtly explores the
inevitable clash of civilization and nature, focusing on a relationship between
two men who are very different, yet share a warm, kindred spirit.
Ultimately, 'rational' reality in the form of Vladimir collides with the
holistic, all-is-one-with-nature being that is Dersu, leading to an
unwished for, but tragic resolution. From Siberia's wildly beautiful wooded
landscapes to its pitiless, snow-ravaged wastes, a stirringly timel!
ess evocation of man's fateful, often fractured and awkward place in
the world.

Friday, January 26, 2007: Aero Theatre
The Friday, January 26th program is a 7:30 PM screening of THE BAD
SLEEP WELL (WARUI YATSU HODO YOKU NEMURU), (1960, Janus Films, 151 min.).
Director Akira Kurosawa's uncompromising expose of Japanese white collar
crime is a startingly bleak saga of Toshiro Mifune infiltrating the
family of a corrupt, big businessman (Masayuki Mori) who had his father,
one of his underlings, murdered. Mifune, having switched identities with
a friend (Takeshi Kato), worms his way into Mori's household by
marrying Mori's crippled daughter (Kyoko Kagawa) and becoming best friends
with his son (Tatsuya Mihashi) - both of whom are decent and don't approve
of their father's nefarious connections with dishonest politicians and
the underworld. Ironically, it is Mifune actually falling-in-love with
Kagawa which lessens his resolve. Something which sociopath Mori
ultimately manipulates to his advantage for the brutally realistic and
pitiless conclusion.

Saturday, January 27, 2007: Aero Theatre
The Saturday, January 27th program is a 7:30 PM screening of
KAGEMUSHA, (1980, 179 min.). Co-produced by Francis Coppola and George Lucas
during the latter part of Akira Kurosawa's career when he often had
trouble with financing, this winner of the Cannes Palme D'or is a melancholy
epic of disillusionment. When the double (and brother) Nobukado
(Tsutomu Yamazaki) of Lord Shingen Takeda (Tatsuya Nakadai), comes across a
condemned thief (also Nakadai) who looks uncannily like ruler Shingen,
Nobukado proposes an idea to his brother's court. In a bid to save
himself from having to continue life as his brother's "shadow," Nobukado
trains the thief to be the lord's double. When Shingen dies by an enemy
sharp-shooter's rifle, his military chiefs heed the final request of
their lord, and inform the thief he must now double full-time to fool
their rivals into believing Shingen is still alive. Yet, how long can the
shadow exist without his subject? The film asks, "At some point, ma!
y the shadow become the main subject himself?" And, quite crucially,
"If it does, will the others realize it?" Kurosawa's haunting tale
fantastically weaves tides of expressive color and smoke, evoking truth and
lies, clarity and confusion, devotion and betrayal.

Sunday, January 28, 2007: Aero Theatre
The Sunday, January 28th program is a 7:30 PM screening of THE SEVEN
SAMURAI (SHICHININ NO SAMURAI), (1954, Janus Films, 207 min.). Director
Akira Kurosawa's most famous film is certainly one of the finest movies
ever made - a huge, sprawling but intimate, character-driven period
epic about an aging swordsman (the great Takashi Shimura) who enlists six
other warriors-for-hire (amongst them, Toshiro Mifune, Minoru Chiaki,
Isao Kimura, Daisuke Kato, Seiji Miyaguchi, Yoshio Inaba) to safeguard a
remote village plagued by bandits. One of Kurosawa's prime talents as
director, aside from his meticulous attention to writing and character
development, was his ability to create a lived-in wealth of detail in
all of his in-period samurai films. Nowhere is this talent more evident
than in this hypnotic evocation of a bygone age. The action film
prototype, enormously influential on a legion of filmmakers from around the
world, including Sam Peckinpah and Clint Eastwood. "Moves like hot !
mercury, and it draws a viewer so thoroughly into its world that real
life can seem thick and dull when the lights come up." - Ty Burr,
Boston Globe.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007: Aero Theatre
The Wednesday, January 31st program is a 7:30 PM screening of DREAMS
(YUME), (1990, WarnerBros., 119 min.). One of maestro Akira Kurosawa's
last films is an anthology of eight dream episodes adapted from the
director's own nocturnal reveries. The mysteries of childhood, nature and
man's seemingly eternal predilection for self-destruction are the main
themes, depicted simply and with a sense of childlike wonder. Kurosawa
drew on the fantasy cinema expertise of lifelong friend, director Ishiro
Honda (GOJIRA) who was uncredited co-director on the two episodes "The
Tunnel" and "Mount Fuji In Red" as well as the prologue and epilogue of
"The Weeping Demon." Another master filmmaker, Martin Scorsese also
participated, but as an actor, giving a very convincing portrayal of
Vincent Van Gogh in "The Crows" segment. Another one of Kurosawa's splendid
visual achievements that really needs to be seen on the big screen.

BLACK AND WHITE (AND SOME COLOR) FILM STILLS ARE AVAILABLE UPON
REQUEST.
PLEASE SEND YOUR REQUEST TO [email protected]

WE DO NOT HAVE GUARANTEED PRESS PASSES TO PUBLIC SCREENINGS. IT IS
RECOMMENDED THAT YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE ADVANCE PRESS SCREENINGS WHEN
AVAILABLE.

FILMS ARE AVAILABLE ON VIDEOTAPE (NTSC) COMMERCIALLY AT LOCAL
VIDEOSTORES UNLESS NOTED. SEE LIST BELOW. THANK YOU.

Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee (5006 Vineland Ave., N. Hollywood-
818.506.4242)
VideoActive (2522 Hyperion, SilverLake - 323.669.8544)
Jerry's Video (1904 Hillhurst, Los Feliz - 323.666.7471)
Rocket Video (726 N. La Brea - 323.965.1100)
Cinefile (11280 Santa Monica Blvd. - Corner of Sawtelle Ave. -
310.312.8836)
Vidiots (302 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica - 310.392.8508)


A complete calendar/flyer listing of our program is available on our
website.

REQUESTS FOR PRESS TICKETS TO PUBLIC SCREENINGS AND INTERVIEW REQUESTS:
* TICKET REQUESTS MUST BE IN WRITING AND SHOULD BE FAXED TO
323.461.9737 ATTN: MARGOT GERBER, 24 HOURS PRIOR TO SHOW TIME. THURSDAY AT 6 PM
IS THE ABSOLUTE DEADLINE FOR REQUESTS FOR WEEKEND SCREENINGS. PLEASE
INCLUDE INFORMATION ABOUT WHEN YOUR COVERAGE WILL APPEAR AND A DESCRIPTION
OF YOUR MEDIA OUTLET.

* JOURNALISTS WISHING TO AUDIO OR VIDEOTAPE DISCUSSIONS MUST ALSO SEND
A FAXED REQUEST. IF YOUR REQUEST IS ACCEPTED, YOU WILL PICK UP YOUR
TICKETS THE NIGHT OF
THE SHOW AT THE BOX OFFICE. Details at:
http://www.americancinematheque.com/pressreleases/pressticketpolicies.htm


General Admission is $10; $7 Cinematheque; $9 Seniors (65+ years) and
students with valid ID card. 24-Hour information: 323.466.FILM

THE PROGRAM IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.


UPCOMING PROGRAMS:
* Egyptian Theatre Historic Tours on January 20 & 21, February 3 & 4,
and March 17 & 18. Tours at 10:30 AM. Meet in front of Box Office.
FOREVER HOLLYWOOD follows at 11:35 AM.
* Overlooked and Underrated Films: January 4 - February 4 (Egyptian)
* BORDER RADIO Cast & Crew Reunion: January 10 (Egyptian)
* Golden Globe Foreign Language Nominee series: January 11 - 13 (Aero)
* Actress Helen Mirren In Person: January 12 & 13 (Egyptian)
* Newsweek's Annual Oscar Roundtable: January 13 (Egyptian)


American Cinematheque, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028
(tel) 323.466-FILM (fax) 323.461.9737 On the web:
http://www.egyptiantheatre.com

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