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OCT. 8–NOV. 6
The title of the first entry in this eight-film series might seem to say it all: Kill! (at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, and 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10) is a dynamic example of the late-’60s samurai film, notable more for spectacular action than for plot, mood, or theme. The same is true of Sword of Doom (at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8; 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9; and 9:10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13), made two years earlier by the same director, Kihachi Okamoto. But samurai cinema isn’t just about swordplay, or at least it wasn’t in its postwar prime, which lasted for little more than a decade, from the end of U.S. censorship to the rise of television. The genre also encompassed Akira Kurosawa’s brilliant 1957 adaptation of Macbeth, Throne of Blood (at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29; 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1; 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2; and 9:20 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3), notable for its psychological depth, theatrical pageantry, and stunning hail-of-arrows climax. A year later, Kurosawa made the more playful The Hidden Fortress (at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, and 7:20 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22), now best-known for providing a large chunk of Star Wars’ plot. The program concludes with Masaki Kobayashi’s unforgettably vehement revenge tale, Harakiri (pictured; at 9:05 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, and 4:45 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6). The series opens Saturday, Oct. 8, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 6 (see Showtimes for a weekly schedule), at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Mark Jenkins)