A dark, perverse samurai film from Akira Kurosawa (1980). Though shot on one of the largest budgets in Japanese film history, it never feels like an epic: there are no sweeping movements, only clotted, jagged flurries of action grafted onto an indifferently presented plotline. The direction is consistently strange, and often apparently wrong: Kurosawa deliberately emphasizes stiff, formal moves over the emotions of his screenplay, in a way that effectively cuts the film off from the audience, forcing us to adopt the director’s distant, cosmic perspective. The film’s deepest meanings are contained in its rhythms, which pointedly alternate between stillness and motion. Something large and abstract is stirring here, though the film’s ultimate implications are chilling. In Japanese with subtitles.