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Nobuhiko Obayashi’s wild and crazy HAUSU kicks off Japan Society retrospective of the unique filmmaker

Nobuhiko Obayashi’s wild and crazy HAUSU kicks off Japan Society retrospective of the unique filmmaker

HOUSE (HAUSU) (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977)
Japan Society
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
Friday, November 20, $15, 7:00

Japan Society kicks off its retrospective of pioneering Japanese experimental filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi with one of the craziest movies ever made, Obayashi’s 1977 cult classic, House (Hausu), which took more than three decades to get its U.S. theatrical release, in a new 35mm print in 2009. Truly one of those things that has to be seen to be believed, House is a psychedelic black horror comedy musical about Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) and six of her high school friends who choose to spend part of their summer vacation at Gorgeous’s aunt’s (Yoko Minamida) very strange house. Gorgeous, whose mother died when she was little and whose father (Saho Sasazawa) is about to get married to Ryoko (Haruko Wanibuchi), brings along her playful friends Melody (Eriko Ikegami), Fantasy (Kumiko Oba), Prof (Ai Matsubara), Sweet (Masayo Miyako), Kung Fu (Miki Jinbo), and Mac (Mieko Sato), who quickly start disappearing like ten little Indians. House is a ceaselessly entertaining head trip of a movie, a tongue-in-chic celebration of genre with spectacular set designs by Kazuo Satsuya, beautiful cinematography by Yoshitaka Sakamoto, and a fab score by Asei Kobayashi and Mickie Yoshino. The original story actually came from the mind of Obayashi’s eleven-year-old daughter, Chigumi, who clearly has one heck of an imagination. Oh, and we can’t forget about the evil cat, a demonic feline to end all demonic felines. The film was released in 2009 prior to its appearance on DVD from Janus, the same company that puts out such classic fare as Federico Fellini’s Amarcord, Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Jacques Tati’s M. Hulot’s Holiday, François Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player, Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game, and Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre sa Vie, so House has joined some very prestigious company. And who are we to say it doesn’t deserve it? House is screening at Japan Society on November 20 at 7:00 with Obayashi’s 1964 silent short, Complexe; Obayashi will introduce the films and participate in a Q&A afterward, followed by what should be a wild Hausu Party. “Nobuhiko Obayashi: A Retrospective” continues through December 6 with such other films as Bound for the Fields, the Mountains, and the Seacoast; I Are You, You Am Me; Sada; The Discarnates; and Obayashi’s latest, the three-hour epic Seven Weeks, in addition to a special conversation and audience Q&A with Obayashi, moderated by series curator Aaron Gerow, on November 21 at 1:00 ($12). As a special early bonus, on November 18, Japan Society will present the New York premiere of Chigumi Obayashi’s 2014 documentary, A Dialogue: Living Harmony, followed by a discussion with the debut director and Richard McCarthy of Slow Food USA and a reception.

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