Friday, March 12, 2010

Check It. 'House' at the New Beverly [Guest Post].

As someone who frequented the New Beverly Cinema during the six years I lived in L.A., I was surprised to learn that the theatre nearly closed late last decade. Luckily for movie lovers, Quentin Tarantino came to the rescue of the ailing revival house. So why not show Tarantino some gratitude by catching a showings of Nobuhiko Obayashi’s classic 1977 Japanese “horror” film House (or Hausu, as the cool kids are wont to call it) this weekend?

I put “horror” in quotes, because House isn’t a particularly scary movie. It’s definitely spooky, eerie and unsettling at times, but the film’s more surreal than anything else. That’s what happened when Obayashi, who made his name directing Charles Bronson-starring deodorant commercials, chose to base the film on a story concocted by his eleven-year-old daughter.

Six school girls (with names like Gorgeous, Fantasy and Kung-Fu) journey to the country for a quick vacation, but instead happen upon a haunted house that has no intention of letting them escape alive. Not exactly anyone’s idea of a relaxing time, but it is a perfect example of how strange Japanese pop culture can be. You’d be hard pressed to find an American film that features a bloodthirsty piano, a demonic (but still kind of cute) cat, and random but hilarious bits of nudity.

It sounds weird—and it definitely is—but the film is more than just another crazy Japanese genre flick. House is a truly beautiful film, each frame a perfectly designed and lushly colored sight to behold. The whole thing brings to mind the work of Michel Gondry, a short form auteur who also successfully made the transition to feature length director. It’s not that the work of the two is that similar, but there is a shared sensibility to it. Like the Frenchman, Obayashi is a director determined to put his imagination to celluloid, no matter how odd it may turn out. And as with Gondry, the result is exuberant film making at its best.

Despite being over 30 years old, and having developed quite the cult following, House has never made it to the United States until now. So seize the opportunity and see it this weekend.

House will be showing at the New Beverly Cinema from March 12-17.

-- Bryan Hood

Bryan Hood is a graduate journalism student who traded in the gold-soaked highways of Los Angeles for the frigid hellhole that is Syracuse, NY. He likes his mustache, misses good Mexican food, and is internationally known for being awesome. He also writes for the blog, Yo Stevie Hawksylvania.

Photo credit: Janus Films

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