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SCREENING ROOM

'The Last Samurai: Akira Kurosawa Revisited' at the Aero

March 19, 2009|Susan King

The late Japanese director Akira Kurosawa takes center stage at the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre in a four-film tribute with "The Last Samurai: Akira Kurosawa Revisited." The festival begins tonight with 1963's "High and Low," a suspense thriller based on Ed McBain's "King's Ransom." Kurosawa's frequent collaborator Toshiro Mifune stars.

The director partnered with co-producers Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas on 1979's "Kagemusha," which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes and screens on Friday. Arguably his greatest film, 1954's epic "Seven Samurai," starring Mifune and another of his favorite actors, Takashi Shimura, screens Saturday.

Sunday brings Kurosawa's 1952 film "Ikiru," a drama about a businessman (Shimura) who builds a playground in the poor section of town when he learns he's dying. www .americancinematheque.com.

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No average Joes

Or you can put your kung-fu grip into action tonight at the third annual G.I. Joe Stop-Motion Film Festival at the Echo Park Film Center this evening. The festival features works by artists who use G.I. Joe or similar 12- to 18-inch action figures as the main characters in their films -- both narrative and documentary. www.gijoefest.com.

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Will view for food

If you're feeling blue over the economy, Echo Park is the place to wallow in your misery with a new monthly series called "Hardluck Potluck," dedicated to presenting films revolving around the Great Depression. The first offering on Saturday is the documentary "Riding the Rails," which explores the phenomenon of teenage hobos during the 1930s. Admission is $1, but if you bring grub to share, you get in free. www.echoparkfilm center.org.

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What's up in docs

The second half of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' "2008-2009 Contemporary Documentaries" series begins Wednesday at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood with "Sari's Mother," which was nominated for a documentary short subject Oscar, as well as "Sicko," Michael Moore's Oscar-nominated look at the U.S. healthcare system. www.oscars.org.

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Flocking to theaters

Aren't birds pretty, so cheerful and colorful -- unless, of course, they're pecking at you in swarms? AFI at ArcLight Hollywood continues its celebration of the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, on Wednesday with a screening of his creepy 1963 thriller "The Birds," with Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor and flocks of really angry birds. www.afi.com.

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susan.king@latimes.com

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THIS WEEKEND

"Duplicity" Two spies turned corporate operatives are in the midst of a clandestine love affair when they find themselves embroiled in a high-stakes espionage game.

"Explicit Ills" Four interconnecting stories revolve around love, drugs and poverty in Philadelphia.

"The Great Buck Howard" A law school dropout and aspiring writer takes a job working for a has-been mentalist.

"I Love You, Man" A recently engaged real estate agent sets out to find a friend to be the best man in his wedding.

"Knowing" The contents of a time capsule offer up some chilling predictions, some that have already come true.

"Perestroika" Returning to the city of his birth after 17 years of exile, an astrophysicist formerly reviled as a traitor is now welcomed back as a hero.

"Sin Nombre" A teenage Mexican gang member aligns himself with a beautiful young Honduran woman who is trying to reach the United States.

"Super Capers" A superhero wannabe is forced to join the Super Capers, a misfit team of superheroes-in-waiting. Even without special powers, he quickly proves himself in a fight against villains.

"Tokyo!" Three directors come together with separate stories examining life in Tokyo.

"Virtual JFK: Vietnam Had Kennedy Lived" Director Koji Masutani's film focuses heavily on John F. Kennedy's thinking and decision-making with regard to war and peace during the thousand days of his abbreviated presidency, focusing upon six highly charged crises Kennedy faced in which many of his advisors counseled war.

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