The second annual Japanese Film Festival takes place at Row House Cinema | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The second annual Japanese Film Festival takes place at Row House Cinema 

Samurai Cat, House and Sailor Moon R are among the offerings

click to enlarge Things are not going well in House.
  • Things are not going well in House.

Last year, Row House Cinema, in Lawrenceville, debuted the Japanese Film Festival. The festival, highlighting historically and culturally significant films from Japan, returns for a second year, and with expanded programming. The festival, offering seven films with multiple screenings, runs April 7-13 at Row House Cinema. The complete schedule, tickets and details about special events, which include ramen nights, a pajama party and a tea ceremony, are at Below are some highlights:

SAMURAI CAT. In Takeshi Watanabe and Yoshitaka Yamaguchi’s 2014 comedy, a samurai, hired by a dog-loving clan, finds he cannot complete his assignment — to kill the pet cat of the rival clan. Also screening: “Ghiblies: Episode 2,”a 24-minute animated film from 2002, and directed by Yoshiyuki Momose, that purports to show life at the famed Studio Ghibli. Among the highlights: hot curry for lunch. 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Fri., April 7

HOUSE. Nobuhiko Obayashi’s gloriously oddball 1977 Japanese horror-comedy is like putting a teen comedy, a haunted-house story and a surreal art film, along with some Japanese history, sexual fetishism, myth, romance and a cat, into a blender. Now hit “chop” and leave the lid off. Seven high school girls vacation at a country house, and things go very, very weird, with the house and its contents turning on the girls. Some scenes are played for laughs, whereas others are more disturbing or cryptic. The whole thing is a visual, aural and narrative jumble — part art, part shlock — but it’s unlike anything you’ve likely seen. April 7-10 and April 12-13

HARAKIRI. Masaki Kobayashi directs this 1962 samurai drama, set in 17th-century Japan. An older warrior, set to commit the titular ritual suicide, changes his plans to revenge after learning what befell his son-in-law. April 7-9 and April 11-13

SAILOR MOON R: THE MOVIE. Adapted from the popular manga, Kunihiko Ikuhara’s 1993 anime follows the plucky schoolgirl’s adventures as she saves Earth from dangerous seeds. April 7-13

WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL? Shion Sono’s 2013 mash-up of comedy, gangster film and martial-arts actioner requires patience: There’s a pretty epic payoff, but Sono takes well over an hour to set up all the components. Key players include: a slapdash amateur film crew; two groups of battling yakusa; a 98-pound weakling fake-dating a gangster’s wild-child daughter; a toothpaste commercial sung by a perky young girl; and the God of Film. It all comes to a head when the two gangs go to war, and both sides agree to let a movie crew film the action. For fans of filmmaking, martial-arts movies and silly humor, this is some amusing, albeit very bloody, stuff.  April 8-13

TSUNAMI PUNX. This 2013 documentary from Maki Kimura and Shuichi Obaichi recounts the struggle of Japanese punk musicians and DIY organizers to form new artistic spaces called “Live Houses” in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami. 4:30 p.m. Sun., April 9

GHOST IN THE SHELL. The critically acclaimed 1995 sci-fi anime from Mamoru Oshii set in a dystopian 2029 has the moody animation, pumped-up action and pneumatic heroines one expects from the genre, while it also tackles less linear philosophical questions: How human is human; can machines possess a soul; and is technology liberating or threatening? 9 and 10:50 p.m. Thu., April 13



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