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The crucial difference between Jonathan Demme’s retooled The Manchurian Candidate and the original is not that Denzel Washington takes Frank Sinatra’s role, or that a multinational corporation replaces diabolical Red Chinese. It’s that the 1962 movie’s paranoia is unleavened. Director John Frankenheimer’s tale of a sleeper assassin brainwashed during the Korean War, now playing at the culture palace named for the president who was assassinated the year after its release, does have its satirical elements. But it’s distinguished by a sense of menace no contemporary geopolitical thriller could match. No wonder Demme inserted cameos (Robyn Hitchcock, Bruno Ganz, Roger Corman) and music (Gang of Four, Jah Wobble, Fountains of Wayne as the Kinks) to evoke today’s hypertext, multi-culti, 24-hour-media smorgasbord. The Manichaean dynamic of 1962 may not have been preferable, but it sure was more conducive to heebie-jeebies. After all, who’s afraid of Robyn Hitchcock? Frankenheimer’s original Candidate screens at 7:15 p.m. (see Showtimes for other dates) at the Kennedy Center’s American Film Institute Theater. $8.50. (202) 785-4600. (Mark Jenkins)