One of the biggest downsides of the streaming era has been the decline of movie theaters. It’s so easy to watch movies at home — and so much cheaper, considering how expensive and elaborate chain movie theaters have gotten. While they don’t have glorified La-Z-Boy chairs as seating, locally-owned, independent theaters have a lot to offer that their mainstream competitors don’t.
Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville has just one screen, but it manages to satisfy every type of moviegoer with a diverse lineup, from documentaries, to cartoons, to foreign dramas, to black-and-white classics. Row House specializes in showing movies you can’t see at mainstream theaters, like second-run movies and cult classics.
Each week at Row House has a theme, varying in specificity. Sometimes a week will feature a slate of films by one director, like Alfred Hitchcock or the Coen brothers. Other times, there will be a broader theme tying different films together, like the upcoming Modern Action Classics week, which includes the likes of Mad Max: Fury Road and John Wick. On top of the theme, Row House will also add other attractions. One night of the Action Classics week, for example, is “Puppy Adoption Night with John Wick” (Aug. 14), which features visiting puppies from the Humane Animal Rescue, inspired by the title character’s quest for revenge over the killing of his dog.
Row House is known too for its film festivals, which also come with a twist. Every year, the theater hosts a Sweded Film Festival, showing purposely amateurish recreations of popular films. The recent Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival featured an array of international, independent, and nostalgic programming for kids, as well as ways to make it easier on parents. The festival included “baby-friendly screenings,” where parents who wanted to get out of the house could bring their baby to a low-volume screening without worrying about if a baby crying or getting fed would disturb other customers.
Watching movies at home on your own couch is nice, but it can’t really compare to watching something — even a movie you’ve seen a dozen times — on the big screen.