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American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre Presents...
Movies on the Big Screen Since 1940!
1328 Montana Avenue at 14th Street in Santa Monica

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Click to print Page 1 or Page 2 or Full Text of a Dec. 2008 Calendar!
Series programmed by: Gwen Deglise and Grant Moninger. Program notes by Jim Hemphill and Chris D.

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Special Thanks to: Janus

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SOLD OUT SCREENINGS: There will be a waiting line for Sold Out screenings. Tickets often become available at the door the night of an event.

Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.

All guests are subject to availability. The Cinematheque will offer a refund due to guest cancellations only IF the refund transaction is complete PRIOR to the start of the show.



Tickets are $9 general admission unless noted otherwise.
(Aero by series)
(Aero Film Calendar)
(Egyptian by series)
(Egyptian by date)
24-Hour Information: 323.466.FILM
Contact Us
The American Cinematheque is a non-profit 501 (C) (3) organization.
The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the newly re-opened and renovated Aero Theatre at 1328 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica and at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Barry Gerber. Aero Theatre (c) 2004.

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<<< March 19 - 26, 2009 >>>

The Last Samurai: Akira Kurosawa Revisited


This is an Aero Theatre Exclusive!

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 Seven_Samurai.jpg (101501 bytes)Laboratory (P.C.L.) film studios (presently 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.

And hurry on he did, with such initial films as 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 11th 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.

Five of Kurosawa's most compelling works are presented here for your enjoyment and marvel: his highly influential THE SEVEN SAMURAI; his riveting film noir HIGH AND LOW; his late-period masterpiece KAGEMUSHA; his action-packed epic THE HIDDEN FORTRESS; and the profoundly moving IKIRU.

All films are in Japanese with English subtitles.


Audience members coming for the Akira Kurosawa Retrospective at the Aero Theatre will have an opportunity to win tickets to this exhibit by entering a drawing.



Win Tickets to this Museum Exhibit!

The Samurai Re-Imagined at Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, CA

Through August 19th

The Samurai Re-Imagined: From Ukiyo-e to Anime uses the image of the iconic samurai warrior to explore the roots of the popular Japanese art forms of manga (graphic novels) and anime (animation). By juxtaposing traditional and contemporary works of art -- woodblock prints with animation cels, for example -- the exhibition creates a visual history demonstrating the links between fine art and popular culture.
The exhibit includes woodblock prints and paintings along with samurai swords and accoutrements from Pacific Asia Museum’s collection; plus animation productions cels and drawings, motion picture stills, posters, toys, and comic books and manga on loan from private collections. Look for a drawing box in the Aero Theatre lobby for your chance to win!



Thursday, March 19 - 7:30 PM

HIGH AND LOW (TENGOKU TO JIGOKU), 1963, Janus Films, 142 min. Dir. Akira Kurosawa. Using American crime novel King’s Ransom by Ed McBain as a starting point, maestro Kurosawa manages to examine social class barriers and the harsh realities of unprincipled capitalism as well as the tumultuous conscience of Toshiro Mifune, a shoe magnate challenged with a life-changing decision. Will he or won’t he pay the ransom when lone-wolf psycho Tsutomu Yamazaki accidentally kidnaps the son of Mifune’s chauffeur, instead of Mifune’s own child? The specter of greed is seamlessly integrated into this mesmerizing suspense thriller. One of Kurosawa’s best! With Tatsuya Nakadai, Kenjiro Ishiyama. In Japanese with English subtitles. Trailer




Friday, March 20 - 7:30 PM

New 35mm Print!

KAGEMUSHA, 1980, 20th Century Fox, 179 min, Dir. Akira Kurosawa. 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 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, may 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. In Japanese with English subtitles. Trailer



Saturday, March 21 - 7:30 PM

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 (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 to a legion of filmmakers from around the world, including Sam Peckinpah and Clint Eastwood. In Japanese with English subtitles. "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. Trailer




Sunday, March 22 - 7:30 PM

IKIRU, 1952, Janus Films, 140 min. Dir. Akira Kurosawa. A middle-class businessman discovers that he is dying and decides to change his life before it’s too late. As he spends his last months building a playground in a poor section of his city, the man (played by Kurosawa favorite Takashi Shimura) contemplates where his life has gone wrong, and how he can make it right again. The result is Kurosawa’s most inspiring film, a movie that avoids every cliché and gets right at the heart of what it means to be human. In Japanese with English subtitles. Trailer



Thursday, March 26 - 7:30 PM

THE HIDDEN FORTRESS (KAKUSHI-TORIDE NO SAN-AKUNIN), 1958, Janus Films, 126 min. Dir. Akira Kurosawa. A samurai (Toshiro Mifune) transports a high-maintenance princess through war-torn lands, accompanied by a pair of bickering peasants (characters said to have inspired C-3PO and R2-D2 in STAR WARS). A deft mix of comedy and action transpires in a film that finds Kurosawa at his most playful and entertaining. In Japanese with English subtitles. More