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In Japan, Takeshi Kitano’s six previous films have flopped, and not because the audience doesn’t like him. The actor-director, who began his career as a stand-up comedian, is the country’s most popular TV personality, but few of his fans have thus far accepted his transition from TV host to maker of austere, violent gangster films. Kitano’s new Hana-Bi is the story of a retired police detective turned vigilante, and features his trademark combination of comic timing, fixed camera positions, and sudden explosions of violence. The Village Voice’s J. Hoberman called the film, a hit on the international film-fest circuit, “Don Siegel meets Yasujiro Ozu.” At 8 p.m. Thursday, April 2, and Friday, April 3, at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th & Independence Ave. SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Mark Jenkins)