On February 11, the Big Idea Bookstore and the Pittsburgh chapter of Redneck Revolt, a national network dedicated to anti-capitalist and anti-racist organizing in poor and working-class white communities, will present a screening and discussion of the film Matewan.
The acclaimed 1987 historical drama from director John Sayles depicts the events leading up to the real-life Battle of Matewan. Chris Cooper stars as a union organizer sent in to rally exploited local, immigrant and Black coal miners in 1920 West Virginia. When thugs from a notorious detective agency are sent in to terrorize and evict striking miners, it soon leads to one of the bloodiest clashes in American labor union history.
Matewan screens at 5:30 p.m. Afterwards, Redneck Revolt will lead a discussion about the themes of class, race, labor militancy and working-class rebellion presented in the film. Food will be provided and guests are welcome to bring something to share. A donation of $5 is suggested but not required.
On January 17, Row House Cinema will bring a little known Studio Ghibli gem to Pittsburgh when they present the 4K restoration of Tomomi Mochizuki‘s 1993 anime drama Ocean Waves.
Rarely seen outside of Japan, Ocean Waves is a subtle, poignant story of adolescence and teenage isolation. Taku and his best friend Yutaka are headed back to school for what looks like another uneventful year. But they soon find their friendship tested by the arrival of Rikako, a beautiful new transfer student from Tokyo whose attitude vacillates wildly from flirty and flippant to melancholic. When Taku joins Rikako on a trip to Tokyo, the school erupts with rumors, and the three friends are forced to come to terms with their changing relationships.
The Ocean Waves sneak preview begins at 7:45 p.m. Tickets cost $9 and are available for purchase online at the door.
For decades, the Italian American Program at the Heinz History Center has worked to preserve and interpret the history and culture of Italian Americans in Western Pennsylvania. On January 10, the program will continue its mission with a special movie event.
The Heinz History Center will present a screening of the 2000 Italian romantic comedy Bread and Tulips at Row House Cinema. After being left behind during a family vacation, Rosalba (Licia Maglietta), an unhappy housewife, decides to start a new life in Venice. She finds room and board with Fernando (Bruno Ganz), a charming maître d’, and they soon fall in love. Meanwhile, Rosalba’s husband hires a private detective to look for her. Although the relationship between Fernando and Rosalba grows stronger, she is forced to return home. But will Fernando rescue her?
Bread and Tulips begins at 7:30 p.m. Guests can also hear about the Italian American Program and take part in a pasta guessing game for a chance to win four Heinz History Center passes. Tickets cost $9. The screening is presented as part of Row House’s Italian Cinema week.
Local artist Matthew Buchholz is best known for his movie-inspired pop art business Alternate Histories. While his work displays a fascination with Godzilla, King Kong, and 1950s space invaders, he decided to return to his more high-brow film roots with Hitchcock 52, a year-long project dedicated to Alfred Hitchcock.
“My background is in film production and criticism and I’d been feeling that I was getting away from my love of movies,” says Buchholz, an NYU film school grad who managed the BAMcinématek program for almost seven years before moving to Pittsburgh. “I wanted to do something that got me thinking and writing critically, and Alfred Hitchcock was my first real film obsession.”
When Buchholz realized Hitchcock made 52 feature films – excluding the auteur’s lost 1927 work The Mountain Eagle – the synergy “was too good to ignore.” Starting last January, he set about watching one film per week and writing about it. He completes his monumental task on December 30 at Row House Cinema, where he will present a screening of North by Northwest.
The 1959 thriller stars Cary Grant as a New York ad exec forced to go on the run after a case of mistaken identity makes him the target of a mysterious organization. Regarded by scholars and critics as one of the greatest American films of all time, it became notable for its ambitious use of setting – including the famed crop duster scene and the iconic Mount Rushmore finale – and laying the groundwork for modern action thrillers.
“It’s my favorite Hitchcock movie and probably my favorite film of all time, so I’m always looking for a reason to watch it on the big screen,” says Buchholz.
Though North by Northwest is the last Hitchcock 52 selection, it’s not the director’s final film (that title goes to the 1976 dark comedy Family Plot). Buchholz explains that he chose to watch Hitchcock’s films out of chronological order to keep the experience more interesting for himself and for the reader.
“I felt it would be better to jump around and when possible and compare and contrast movies like the 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much and the 1956 remake,” says Buchholz. “Beyond that, it was often based on my whim and what I felt like watching that week.”
Hitchcock 52 allowed him to take a more balanced approach to analyzing the work of a director often regarded with blind reverence. Even as he praises Hitchcock’s enduring brilliance, he also takes a step back to point out flaws or moments that fail to stand the test of time.
He also deals with the uncomfortable aspects of Hitchcock, who has frequently garnered criticism for his depictions of women, people of color, and characters coded as gay or transgender. In one Hitchcock 52 post, Buccholz touches on the glaring homophobia displayed in the 1929 film Murder! and relates it to the director’s frequent attempts at exploring sexuality “in a shocking and provocative manner.”
“You can argue that Hitchcock provided some of the most sympathetic portraits of coded gay characters to be seen before 1960,” he writes. “But virtually all of his ‘gay’ characters (Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca, the Leopold & Loeb-like duo of Rope, Bruno Anthony in Strangers on a Train, and Leonard in North by Northwest) fall into the ‘deviant sexuality’ camp; they’re villains who commit or attempt murder and are caught and punished.”
In his most recent post on The Birds, Buchholz even confronts his own hypocrisy when it comes to actress Tippi Hedren, whose long-held claims that Hitchcock sexually assaulted her during production on Marnie resurfaced in her recently released memoir.
“I admit that, because of my idolization of Hitchcock, I overlooked Hedren’s accusations in the past, in part because Hedren is the only actress to ever make these claims,” says Buchholz. “But reading her book, and seeing how respectful she still is to him, it makes me think that something must have happened. Because why would I believe the women who say these things about Woody Allen and Bill Cosby but not Hitchcock? It’s disappointing, obviously, and I’m wrestling with my feelings in [The Birds] essay.”
While Buchholz says he enjoyed doing the project, he doubts he will pursue another one like it.
“Surprisingly, while I thought it would reignite my critical passion, it’s actually driven me back to thinking more creatively, and trying to find a way to write or make movies,” says Buchholz. “It’s impossible to spend so long with someone so talented and not be inspired.”
The Hitchcock 52 screening of North by Northwest begins at 7:35 p.m. with an introduction by Buchholz. He will briefly discuss the Hitchcock 52 project, what he has learned, and why North by Northwest is his favorite Hitchcock film. Tickets cost $9 and are available for purchase at the Row House website or at the door.
From October 31st through November 5th, the University of Pittsburgh‘s annual Jazz Seminar and Concert will feature free lunchtime concerts, on-campus seminars, and an outreach event in the Hill District, all of which culminates with a concert at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. Also included is a screening of ‘Round Midnight, a cinematic tribute to the power of jazz and the talent of legendary musician Dexter Gordon.
Directed by Bertrand Tavernier, and based on French author Francis Paudras’s memoir/biography Dance of the Infidels, the 1986 American-French music drama stars Gordon as jazzman Dale Turner, a famous tenor saxophone player in 1950s Paris. He’s befriended by Francis (François Cluzet), a struggling film poster designer who idolizes Turner and tries desperately to help him overcome alcohol abuse. As he succeeds, the budding friendship they develop changes their lives forever. The award-winning film features musician Herbie Hancock and a cameo by director Martin Scorsese.
‘Round Midnight will screen on November 2nd at 6 p.m. in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. An introduction by Gordon’s widow, Maxine Gordon, will also take place. The event is free and open to the public.
On September 24th, Pittsburgh will participate in the first annual Art House Theater Day, a nationwide event recognizing the important role independent theaters play in bringing the arts and culture to their communities, with screenings at the Hollywood Theater, Row House Cinema, Regent Square Theater and the Harris Theater. See film details and showtimes below:
Time Bandits (1981) – Row House Cinema and Regent Square Theater
Director Terry Gilliam‘s dark, yet fanciful fantasy tale follows a young boy as he embarks on an epic journey through time with a band of dwarves who’ve stolen a magical map. The cult favorite stars John Cleese and Michael Palin of Monty Python, Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall and many others. Time Bandits will screen at 12 p.m. at Row House Cinema and at 8 p.m. at Regent Square Theater.
A Town Called Panic (2009) – Hollywood Theater
In this Belgian stop-motion animated feature, plastic toys like Cowboy, Indian and Horse have problems too. Cowboy and Indian’s plan to surprise Horse with a homemade birthday gift backfires when they destroy his house instead. Surreal adventures ensue as the trio travel to the center of the Earth, trek across frozen tundra and discover a parallel underwater universe where pointy-headed (and dishonest!) creatures live. With panic a permanent feature of life in this papier mâché town, will Horse and his girlfriend ever be alone? A Town Called Panic will screen at 1 p.m. at the Hollywood Theater. Tickets cost $5 and are available for purchase at Showclix or at the door.
Danny Says (2016) – Harris Theater
Since 1966, Danny Fields has played a pivotal role in music and culture of the late 20th century: working for the Doors, Cream, Lou Reed, Nico, Judy Collins and managing groundbreaking artists like the Stooges, the MC5 and the Ramones. The documentary follows the life and time of Fields from his days as a Phi Beta Kappa whiz-kid, to Harvard Law dropout, to the Warhol Silver Factory, to Director of Publicity at Elektra Records, to punk pioneer and beyond. Danny Says will screen at 8 p.m. at the Harris Theater.
Phantasm (1979) – Hollywood Theater
Newly restored by J.J. Abrams and his company Bad Robot Productions, this imaginative creeper from filmmaker Don Coscarelli pits a young boy against the mysterious Tall Man, an undertaker who enslaves reanimated corpses. The film defies genre conventions with its dreamy, surreal style and bizarre take on the battle between good and evil. Phantasm will screen at 10 p.m. at the Hollywood Theater. Doors open at 9 p.m. The event includes vintage 35mm film trailers, special Phantasm merchandise and a live stream with Coscarelli. Tickets cost $10 and are available for purchase at Showclix.
Conflict Kitchen will stay open late for a special event. On September 16th, the eatery, which serves cuisine from countries with which the US is currently in conflict, will complete their focus on the food, culture and politics of Iran with a free outdoor screening of the 2014 film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.
Strange things are afoot in Bad City. The Iranian ghost town, home to prostitutes, junkies, pimps and other sordid souls, is a bastion of depravity and hopelessness where a lonely vampire (Sheila Vand) stalks its most unsavory inhabitants. But when boy (Arash Marandi) meets girl, an unusual love story begins to blossom.
Considered to be the first Iranian Vampire Western ever made, Ana Lily Amirpour’s directorial debut basks in the sheer pleasure of pulp. A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype, and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave.
The Conflict Kitchen screening of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night will take place at 8 p.m. Food will be available for purchase.
Both nights will feature director Steven Spielberg‘s first three Indiana Jones movies in sequence (sorry, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull fans), beginning with Raiders of the the Lost Ark. The 1981 film follows archaeologist and occult expert Indiana Jones, who’s hired by the US government to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant from the clutches of Nazis who intend to use its mythical powers to achieve world domination. After teaming with his old flame Marion (Karen Allen), the two go on an epic adventure across the deserts of Egypt, where they tangle with snakes, swordsmen and Hitler’s henchmen.
Released in 1984, the prequel Temple of Doom marks the return of star Harrison Ford as the intrepid Jones in a story that takes him, his pint-sized sidekick (Jonathan Ke Quan) and a nightclub diva (Kate Capshaw) and into the jungles of India, where they must save a village from an evil cult.
Last but not least, The Last Crusade (1989) unites Jones with his estranged archaeologist father (Sean Connery) in a quest to find the Holy Grail before the Nazis do.
The Indiana Jones Trilogy will begin at 8 p.m. on both nights. Gates open at 7 p.m.
On July 13th, Row House Cinema will celebrate the origins of hip-hop with a special screening of Wild Style.
Released theatrically in 1983 by First Run Features, and later re-released for home video by Rhino Home Video, Wild Style is regarded as the first hip-hop motion picture. Produced by Charlie Ahearn, the film features seminal figures from that period, including Fab Five Freddy, New York graffiti artist Lee Quinones, Lady Pink, the Rock Steady Crew, The Cold Crush Brothers, Queen Lisa Lee of Zulu Nation, and Grandmaster Flash. The protagonist Zoro is played by Quinones.
The event will begin at 9:15 p.m. with a pre-movie performance featuring DJ Selecta and the Get Down Gang dance crew. The film will follow. Tickets cost $9 and are available for purchase at the Row House website. Wild Style is shown as part of Music on the Big Screen.
Documentarian and beloved local celebrity Rick Sebak has made a career out of capturing the cultural and culinary distinctions that make Pittsburgh and other US cities great. Bayardstown Social Club and WQED will pay tribute to his legacy with Sebak to Back, a two-week outdoor retrospective featuring films, trivia, food, music and appearances by the man himself, Rick Sebak. See dates and event details below:
A History of Pittsburgh in 17 Objects looks at 17 artifacts – from an 18th century powder horn to Heinz pickle pins – that define the storied history of the Pittsburgh region. Also showing is A Few Good Pie Places, an hour-long travelogue about the delicious art and business of pie making.
The evening will also include pie tastings and live music by members of The Beagle Brothers and James Hart of the Harlan Twins.
A Hot Dog Program highlights America’s favorite junk food by visiting famous vendors such as Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island, Pink’s in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh’s own Original Hot Dog Shop. Kennywood Memories chronicles the history behind historic West Mifflin theme park, from its turn-of-the-century origins to its modern day appeal.
In keeping with the night’s theme, Bayardstown will provide hot dogs cooked on the grill and a full toppings bar.
Doors for each event open at 6 p.m. Movies begin at dusk. Admission is $5 for Bayardstown members, $10 for non-members.