American Cinematheque Launches WEEKEND WARRIORS: SAMURAI ON THE BIG SCREEN This Friday

The American Cinematheque is hosting a three-day programme featuring five chanbara classics starring this Friday headlining Weekend Warriors: Samurai On The Big Screen. Tickets are on sale at the official website for all slated showings at the Aero Theatre column for residents and all those in the vicinity of 1328 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, California.
Japan’s answer to the Western, samurai films are among the nation’s most popular cinematic exports. These tales of bravery and intrigue during the Edo period have left their mark on American films ranging from THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN to STAR WARS, and remain rousing entertainment.

Join us for a weekend with these sword-wielding warriors including such classics as Masaki Kobayashi’s SAMURAI REBELLION, Kihachi Okamoto’s SWORD OF DOOM and two favorites from one of the masters of the form, Akira Kurosawa: YOJIMBO and SEVEN SAMURAI. All 35mm Prints!

All films are in Japanese with English subtitles.

1961, Janus Films, 110 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

Toshiro Mifune plays Sanjuro, a shiftless ronin (samurai without a master) who wanders into a starving village beset by a yakuza gang war. Sanjuro plays the battling sects off against one another and nearly gets himself killed in the process. In Japanese with English subtitles.


1967, Janus Films, 121 min, Japan, Dir: Masaki Kobayashi

Toshiro Mifune stars as Isaburo Sasahara, an aging swordsman living a quiet life until his clan lord orders that his son marry the lord's mistress, who has recently displeased the ruler. Reluctantly, father and son take the woman in, and, to the family’s surprise, the young couple fall in love. But the lord soon reverses his decision and demands the mistress’s return. Against all expectations, Isaburo and his son refuse, risking the destruction of their entire family.

Both films in Japanese with English subtitles.

Aero Theatre • Fri, Mar 16, 2018 • 7:30pm


1954, Janus Films, 207 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

Director Akira Kurosawa’s first attempt at a samurai film yielded this character-driven masterpiece about an aging swordsman (Takashi Shimura) who enlists six other warriors-for-hire (among them Toshiro Mifune) to safeguard a remote village plagued by bandits. After viewing SEVEN SAMURAI, filmmaker Federico Fellini called Kurosawa "the greatest living example of all that an author of the cinema should be." In Japanese with English subtitles.

In Japanese with English subtitles.

Aero Theatre • Sat, Mar 17, 2018 • 7:30pm

1966, Janus Films, 120 min, Japan, Dir: Kihachi Okamoto

Director Kihachi Okamoto made a slew of great films, including KILL!, DESPERADO OUTPOST, AGE OF ASSASSINS, SAMURAI ASSASSIN and THE HUMAN BULLET – to name only a few! – but his ultimate masterwork is this uncompromising samurai film. It is a riveting, desolate picture, anchored by a mesmerizing portrayal from Tatsuya Nakadai as paranoid killer Ryunosuke Tsukue, an outcast from his family and a hunted man recruited by the notorious Shinsengumi band of assassins. There have been many movie renditions of Kaizan Nakazato’s popular novel The Great Boddhisatva Pass since it first appeared 70-plus years ago, but Okamoto’s version in ashen black-and-white ’Scope best captures the nihilistic netherworld of the sociopathic swordsman. Masaru Sato’s music is at the pinnacle of a multitude of great Japanese movie scores from the 1960s. The supporting cast, including Toshiro Mifune, Michiyo Aratama and Yuzo Kayama, are all excellent. Screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto (who co-wrote many of Akira Kurosawa’s masterpieces) provides an expert distillation, going back

(KIRU) 50th Anniversary!

1968, Janus Films, 114 min, Japan, Dir: Kihachi Okamoto

In this pitch-black action comedy, a pair of down-on-their-luck swordsmen arrive in a dusty, windblown town, where they become involved in a local clan dispute. One, previously a farmer, longs to become a noble samurai. The other, a former samurai haunted by his past, prefers living anonymously with gangsters. But when both men discover the wrongdoings of the nefarious clan leader, they side with a band of rebels under siege at a remote mountain cabin. Based on the same source novel as Akira Kurosawa’s SANJURO, KILL! playfully tweaks samurai film convention, borrowing elements from established chanbara classics and seasoning them with a little Italian Western.

Both films in Japanese with English subtitles.

Aero Theatre • Sun, Mar 18, 2018 • 7:30pm
Next Post »