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Classic Japanese, Japan-Related Films at L.A. Theaters

Upcoming Japanese and Japan-related films at Los Angeles theaters include the following:

“Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” (1984, 118 minutes) on Saturday, April 13, at 10:30 a.m. at Vista Theatre, 4473 Sunset Dr. Just before the founding of his legendary Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki made this film, often considered to be one of his very first indisputable animated masterpieces. All the classic Miyazaki themes are here in this sci-fi adventure epic: a strong young heroine, a prescient concern for humanity’s destructive disregard for the Earth, a love of flight, fantastic and strange creatures, a dreamlike narrative. Tickets:

“The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957, 161 minutes), directed by David Lean, on Sunday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m. and Monday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. at New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd. While a camp of WWII POWs are ordered by their Japanese captors to build a strategic bridge, allied commandos are sent to destroy it. Alec Guinness plays the British colonel consumed with obsession while overseeing the mammoth project, while William Holden plays the escaped American prisoner sent back into the jungle to blow it up. Sessue Hayakawa was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of the Japanese commandant. Winner of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor. Info: (323) 938-4038,

“Throne of Blood” (1957, 111 minutes) on Saturday, April 20, at 10:30 a.m. at Vista Theatre, 4473 Sunset Dr. In the first of Akira Kurosawa’s three adaptations of Shakespeare, the doomed MacBeth becomes Lord Washizu, played by frequent Kurosawa collaborator Toshiro Mifune. All the elements of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy are here but reconfigured by Kurosawa: the ghosts, the omens, the moving forests, the birds, the blood, Lady MacBeth. Isuzu Yamada and Takashi Shimura also star. Tickets:

“The Yakuza” (1974, 112 minutes), directed by Sydney Pollack, on Wednesday, April 24, and Thursday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m. at New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd. Hard-boiled American neo-noir (WWII vet-turned-detective Robert Mitchum) and anti-heroic Japanese yakuza (ex-gangster-turned-kendo-instructor Ken Takakura) follow the tie that binds the two subcultures – and the two individuals – together. Keiko Kishi is Takakura’s “sister” and the object of Mitchum’s unrequited love. All three are reunited when Mitchum’s old Army buddy (Brian Keith) has his daughter snatched by yakuza business associates in Japan, and Keith implores the reluctant Mitchum to help get her back. In the process, obligations are called in, many lives are changed, and some are shattered by the duplicitous nature of where “legitimate” big business intersects with the underworld. Supporting players include Richard Jordan, Herb Edelman, James Shigeta and Eiji Okada. Co-billed with “A Better Tomorrow II” (1987, 105 minutes), directed by John Woo and starring Ti Lung, Chow Yun Fat, Leslie Cheung and Dean Shek. Info: (323) 938-4038,

“Cowboy Beop: The Movie” (2001, 115 minutes), directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, on Friday, May 3, at 11:59 p.m. at Nuart Theare, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd. In this animated feature, what should have been an easy bounty for Spike Spiegel and his crew turns into biological war after a terrorist gets hold of a deadly virus. With little time and leads that seem more dreamy than helpful, they’ll have to use their own bag of tricks to stop a dangerous plot. Dubbed in English. Info:

“House” (1977, 87 minutes), directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi, on Friday, May 17, at 11:59 p.m. at Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd. A schoolgirl (Kimiko Ikegami) who wants to avoid spending summer vacation with her father’s eerily placid girlfriend opts instead to live at her ailing aunt’s creaky country home, bringing six classmates with her. All come face to face with evil spirits, bloodthirsty pianos, and a demonic housecat. Subtitled. Info:

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