Hollywood Theater Celebrates ‘Star Wars’ Milestone With ‘5-25-77’

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5-25-77

The late-1970s was a magical time for American film, with directors like Steven Spielberg spurring the blockbuster age and shaping generations of cinephiles. But on May 25, 1977, George Lucas created a massive pop culture phenomenon with the release of his epic space opera Star Wars. On May 25, the Hollywood Theater will mark the 40th anniversary of the influential hit with the Pittsburgh premiere of 5-25-77.

Writer/director Patrick Read Johnson spins a semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age tale about an aspiring young filmmaker (John Francis Daley of Freaks and Geeks) growing up in 1970s rural Illinois, falling in love, and becoming the first fan of Star Wars.

5-25-77 begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $8-10.

Best Limited Releases Coming To Pittsburgh: May 2017 Edition

Risk – Hollywood Theater

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Filmed over six years including through the 2016 presidential election and up to the present moment, Risk takes viewers closer than they have ever been before to Julian Assange and those who surround him. With unprecedented access, director Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) captures the WikiLeaks story from the inside, allowing viewers to understand the current era of massive leaks, headline-grabbing news, and the revolutionary impact of the internet on global politics. Risk opens on May 12 at the Hollywood Theater.

Hounds of Love – Harris Theater

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The debut from writer/director Ben Young takes place in suburban Perth during the mid-1980s, where people are unaware that women are disappearing at the hands of serial killer couple John and Evelyn White. After an innocent lapse in judgment, Vicki Maloney is randomly abducted by the disturbed couple. With her murder imminent, Vicki realizes she must find a way to drive a wedge between Evelyn and John if she is to survive. Hounds of Love opens on May 19 at the Harris Theater.

The Lovers – Manor Theatre

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Debra Winger and Tracy Letts play a long-married and completely dispassionate husband and wife. Both are in the midst of serious affairs and are increasingly committed to their new partners. But on the brink of officially calling it quits, a spark between them suddenly and unexpectedly reignites, leading them into an impulsive romance that forces them to navigate the hilarious complications of “cheating” on their respective lovers. The Lovers opens on May 19 at the Manor Theatre.

Norman – Regent Square Theater

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A small-time operator named Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) befriends a young politician at a low and lonely moment in his life. Three years later when that politician becomes an influential world leader, Norman’s life dramatically changes. For better. And for worse. Norman opens on May 19 at the Regent Square Theater.

Alternate Histories Presents The Sounds Of Sci-Fi With New Project

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Plan 9 From Outer Space

Pittsburgh artist Matthew Buchholz has embarked on his share of bizarre experiments, from his year with Hitchcock to printing pocket-sized editions of notoriously bad B-movie scripts. Now he’s venturing into unexplored territory with Forbidden Sounds for a Future Age, a vinyl album consisting of clips from classic and not-so-classic sci-fi movies from the 1950s and 1960s.

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Forbidden Sounds for a Future Age album art/Courtesy of Matthew Buchholz

“This is something completely new for me,” Buchholz said in a press release. “And it’s an idea I’ve been contemplating for a long time. All of my work up until now has been printed: art pieces, greeting cards, a calendar, even a full-length book. I’m nervous but excited to explore the world of sound.”

Launched through Buchholz’s Alternate Histories brand, the album will include clips from films such as The Phantom of 10,000 Leagues (1955), Cat-Women of the Moon (1953), Mesa of Lost Women (1953) and Ed Wood Jr’s Bride of the Monster (1955) and Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959).

To help get the project off the ground, Buchholz enlisted the skills of co-producer Madeleine Campbell, a sound engineer, educator and founder of Accessible Recording, an upcoming studio and learning space focused on amplifying voices of artists and groups underrepresented in professional audio. He also successfully completed a Kickstarted campaign meant to cover the cost of producing and printing a vinyl album.

Row House Cinema Declares Independence With ‘The Mutineer’

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The Mutineer

On April 29, Row House Cinema will spotlight a Pittsburgh-made film with the premiere of The Mutineer.

The independent feature film from writer/producer/director John Jaquish follows a group of criminals who, while fleeing a gun possession charge, take over a farm in rural Appalachia and try to secede from the United States. The film, which was shot in West Virginia on black-and-white 35mm film, used an all-Pittsburgh crew, as well as some local acting talent.

The Mutineer premiere takes place at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $7. The screening includes appearances by Jaquish along with a number of cast and crew members.

Row House Cinema Dives In For ‘My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea’

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My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea

Cartoonist Dash Shaw recently made waves (pun intended) when he premiered My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea, an absurd animated feature that’s exactly what the title suggests. On April 25, Row House Cinema welcomes Shaw for the Pittsburgh premiere of his new work.

Dash (Jason Schwartzman) and his best friend Assaf (Reggie Watts) are preparing for another year at Tides High School muckraking on behalf of their widely-distributed but little-read school newspaper, edited by their friend Verti (Maya Rudolph). But just when a blossoming relationship between Assaf and Verti threatens to destroy the boys’ friendship, Dash learns of the administration’s cover-up that puts all the students in danger. As disaster erupts and the friends race to escape through the roof of the school, they are joined by a popular know-it-all (Lena Dunham) and a lunch lady (Susan Sarandon) who is much more than meets the eye, in this wild send-up of disaster cinema, high school comedy, and blockbuster satire. (Synopsis courtesy of GKIDS)

The My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea Pittsburgh premiere begins at 7:15 p.m. Shaw and cartoonist Frank Santoro will kick off the event with a live interview followed by the screening. Tickets cost $12, $20 for VIP tickets that include a private meet-and-greet in the Bierport taproom. The film will continue to show as part of Row House’s High School Sucks week. 

JFilm Showcases Period Dramas, Timely Docs, And The Beauty Of Comedy

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Fanny’s Journey

For over two decades, JFilm Festival has worked to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of modern Jewish culture and history. From April 20-30, the event will present new films from around the world, along with complementary programming such as visiting filmmakers, guest speakers, and more. See below for highlights and details:

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Take My Nose…Please

The 2017 JFilm Festival will present a variety of documentaries, including the Pittsburgh premiere of Take My Nose…Please. Directed by veteran journalist Joan Kron, the film looks at the role comedy has played in exposing the pressure on women to attain physical perfection. From Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers to Roseanne Barr and Kathy Griffin, female comedians have been unashamed to talk about their perceived flaws, and the steps taken to remedy them. The film follows two women – up-and coming improv performer Emily Askin and seasoned headliner Jackie Hoffman – as they deliberate about going under the knife.

Also showing in the documentary category is There Are Jews Here, a film about the struggle to keep small-town synagogues open; The Last Laugh, an exploration of how comedians deal with the horrors of the Holocaust and World War II; and On the Map, a look at how, in 1977, an Israeli basketball team gave the country hope.

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There Are Jews Here

The festival will also present narrative films such as The Exception. Filled with espionage and romance, the star-studded World War II thriller features Jai Courtney as a German soldier on a mission to investigate exiled German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer). As he begins to infiltrate the Kaiser’s life in search of clues, he finds himself drawn into an unexpected and passionate romance with one of the Kaiser’s maids (Lily James of Downton Abbey) who is secretly Jewish. Their relationship becomes even more complicated when SS leader Heinrich Himmler (Eddie Marsan) suddenly shows up with a large platoon of Nazis in tow.

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The Exception

Other narrative selections include The Jews, a dark satire about anti-Semitism in France; Fanny’s Journey, a WWII-era tale about a 13-year-old girl on the run from the Nazis; and Family Commitment, a screwball comedy about an Arab-Jewish gay couple and their dysfunctional families.

Visit the JFilm website for more film descriptions, a complete screening schedule, and tickets. Events will take place at Manor Theatre and the Hollywood Theater.

CMOA Honors Director Neil Jordan With Wild West North Film Screening Series

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Breakfast on Pluto/Sony Pictures Classics

From April 14-15, the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) will honor Neil Jordan, the acclaimed Irish filmmaker best known for The Crying Game and Interview with the Vampire, with the Wild West North Film Screening Series. Presented in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Film Studies department, the two-day retrospective includes three of the director’s films and conversations with renowned Irish novelist and visiting Pitt faculty member Patrick McCabe, who collaborated with Jordan on adapting two of his books – The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto – for the screen.

See below for film schedule and details:

April 14

7 p.m.

Michael Collins (1996)

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Liam Neeson plays the title role in Jordan’s award-winning biopic about Michael Collins, the statesman who negotiated Ireland’s break with England and went on to become a political martyr. The film also stars Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea, Alan Rickman and Julia Roberts.

April 15

2 p.m.

The Butcher Boy (1998)

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Jordan weaves an inventive tale of a boy who uses humor, hooliganism, and horror to cope with the world around him.

April 15

5 p.m.

Breakfast on Pluto (2005)

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Abandoned at birth by a “Phantom Lady” mother and fathered in secret by the local parish priest, Patrick “Kitten” Braden (Cillian Murphy) grows up to lead a picaresque life as a transvestite, magician’s apprentice, sometime prostitute, suspected IRA terrorist, seeker of truth and illusion, loyal friend, and tirelessly witty observer of life.

All screenings take place in the CMOA Theater. Tickets cost $45 for all three screenings (members: $36, students: $24), $18 for individual films (members: $15, students: $10). Every ticket includes a book signed by McCabe.

Row House Cinema Showcases Cult Classics At Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival

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House

From April 7-13Row House Cinema hosts the second annual Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival, the city’s only event dedicated solely to Japanese cinema. Presented in part by the Pittsburgh Japanese Cultural Society and the Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania, the festival features seven handpicked historically and culturally significant films from Japan, all representing different eras and genres.

See film descriptions and details below:

Opening Night Film Samurai Cat (2015, Takeshi Watanabe/Yoshitaka Yamaguchi)

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This action comedy follows a feared swordsman who gets caught between two warring gangs after he absconds with a warlord’s cat.

The Opening Night event includes a special screening of the Studio Ghibli short film Ghiblies: Episode 2. Tickets cost $15 and include admission to the screenings, Japanese snacks, special treats by bakery Yummyholic, and goodies from the Black Cat Market.

House (1977, Nobuhiko Ôbayashi)

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Director Nobuhiko Obayashi’s bizarre fantasy horror film follows a schoolgirl who travels with six classmates to her ailing aunt’s creaky country home and comes face-to-face with evil spirits, a demonic house cat, a bloodthirsty piano, and other ghoulish visions.

Sailor Moon R: The Movie (1993, Kunihiko Ikuhara)

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Long before Mamoru found his destiny with Usagi, he gave a single rose in thanks to a lonely boy who helped him recover from the crash that claimed his parents. This long-forgotten friend, Fiore, has been searching the galaxy for a flower worthy of that sweet gesture long ago. The mysterious flower he finds is beautiful, but has a dark side – it has the power to take over planets. To make matters worse, the strange plant is tied to an ominous new asteroid near Earth! Faced with an enemy blooming out of control, it’s up to Sailor Moon and the Sailor Guardians to band together, stop the impending destruction and save Mamoru.

Harakiri (1962, Masaki Kobayashi)

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Following the collapse of his clan, an unemployed samurai (Tatsuya Nakadai) arrives at the manor of Lord Iyi, begging to be allowed to commit ritual suicide on the property. Iyi’s clansmen, believing the desperate ronin is merely angling for a new position, try to force his hand and get him to eviscerate himself—but they have underestimated his beliefs and his personal brand of honor.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (2013, Sion Sono)

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There’s a war going on, but that won’t stop Director Hirata and his inexperienced wannabe film crew from following their dreams of making the ultimate action epic. Ten years ago, yakuza mid-boss Ikegami led an assault against rival don Muto. Now, on the eve of his revenge, all Muto wants to do is complete his masterpiece, a feature film with his daughter in the starring role, before his wife is released from prison. And Hirata and his crew are standing by with the chance of a lifetime: to film a real, live yakuza battle to the death.

Closing Night FilmGhost in the Shell (1995, Mamoru Oshii)

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Set in the year 2029, Oshii’s anime masterpiece follows a female government cyber agent and the Internal Bureau of Investigations are hot on the trail of a “The Puppet Master,” a computer virus capable of invading cybernetic brains and altering its victim’s memory.

Check the Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival website for ticket prices and showtimes. The festival also includes performances by Pittsburgh Taiko, food and movie pairings with Blue Sparrow Food Truck, local vendor tables, and more.

Best Limited Releases Coming To Pittsburgh: April 2017 Edition

Personal Shopper – Regent Square Theater

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Actor Kristen Stewart reteams with Clouds of Sils Maria director Olivier Assayas for the story of Maureen (Stewart), a young American in Paris making her living as a personal shopper for a celebrity. Also, she may have the psychic ability to communicate with spirits, just like her twin brother, Lewis, who recently passed away. Maureen soon starts receiving mysterious messages coming from an unknown source. Personal Shopper screens from March 31April 6 at Regent Square Theater.

Queen of the Desert – Harris Theater

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Nicole Kidman and director Werner Herzog bring to life the extraordinary true story of a trailblazing woman who found freedom in the faraway world of the Middle East. Gertrude Bell (Kidman) chafes against the stifling rigidity of life in turn-of-the-century England, leaving it behind for a chance to travel to Tehran. So begins her lifelong adventure across the Arab world, a journey marked by danger, a passionate affair with a British officer (James Franco), and an encounter with the legendary T.E. Lawrence (Robert Pattinson). Stunningly shot on location in Morocco and Jordan, Queen of the Desert reveals how an ahead-of-her-time woman shaped the course of history. Queen of the Desert opens on April 7 at the Harris Theater.

The Void – Hollywood Theater

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When police officer Carter discovers a blood-soaked man limping down a deserted road, he rushes him to a local hospital with a bare-bones night shift staff. As cloaked, cult-like figures surround the building, the patients and staff inside start to turn ravenously insane. Trying to protect the survivors, Carter leads them into the depths of the hospital where they discover a gateway to immense evil. The Void opens on April 7 at the Hollywood Theater.

Frantz – Manor Theatre

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Set in Germany and France in the immediate aftermath of World War I, the latest drama from director  François Ozon recalls the mourning period that follows great national tragedies as seen through the eyes of the war’s “lost generation.” Anna (Paula Beer in a breakthrough performance), a bereft young German woman whose fiancé, Frantz, was killed during trench warfare, and Adrien (Pierre Niney), a French veteran of the war who shows up mysteriously in her town, placing flowers on Frantz’s grave. Adrien’s presence is met with resistance by the small community still reeling from Germany’s defeat, yet Anna gradually gets closer to the handsome and melancholy young man, as she learns of his deep friendship with Frantz, conjured up in evocative flashbacks. Frantz opens on April 14 at the Manor Theatre.

Tull Family Theater Launches Cultural Screenings With ‘Hermitage Revealed’

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Hermitage Revealed

The Tull Family Theater recently opened in Sewickley to bring art films and events to people living outside of the city of Pittsburgh. The theater lives up to its mission on March 23 when it kicks off its Cultural Screenings series with the sprawling 2014 museum documentary Hermitage Revealed.

The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world holding over 3 million treasures and boasting more curators than any other art institution. Hermitage Revealed presents a cinematic journey through the museum’s tumultuous 250-year history and offers unprecedented access to special collections and exclusive areas that remain hidden from the public eye.

The production brings together the oldest, the rarest, the most precious and the most closely guarded of Russia’s greatest treasures; items bought with great wealth or acquired by other means, items hoarded and saved from violent revolutionaries, items thought lost and later re-found – all works and their unique stories presented with an intimacy and immediacy that no museum or gallery experience can match. From Rembrandt to Russian masterpieces, from prehistoric artifacts to the private gemstone collection of Catherine The Great, from Michelangelo to Matisse and much, much more, the exquisite treasures the Hermitage has to offer are seemingly endless.

Hermitage Revealed begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase online or at the door.