Spotlight shines on Mifune, Kurosawa

VIZ Cinema in San Francisco closes 2010 with “Mifune x Kurosawa,” a festival celebrating the work of iconic director Akira Kurosawa and actor Toshiro Mifune.

The lineup runs through Jan. 6 at 1746 Post St., and a special Sunday reception features the classic action masterpiece “Seven Samurai.” Tickets are $10. Visit www.vizcinema.com for more information.

Here’s the remainder of the programming:

“High and Low” (1957) features Mifune as Kingo Gondo, a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a cold-blooded kidnapper. The race-against-time thriller is a penetrating portrait of contemporary Japanese society.

The noir “Stray Dog” (1949) is about what happens when a pickpocket steals a rookie detective’s gun on a bus, and how the cop goes undercover in a desperate attempt to right the wrong.

“Drunken Angel” (1948), another noir piece, showcases Mifune as a volatile criminal who strikes up an unlikely relationship with Takashi Shimura’s jaded physician.

“Seven Samurai,” at 1:30 p.m. Sunday only, is Kurosawa’s 1954 three-hour epic telling the story of a 16th-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire warriors to protect them from the invading bandits. The event includes a special New Year’s reception party.

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