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Home Movie (2002)
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by Thom

"A fascinating doc about place and person in spiritual synergy"
5 stars

They say there’s no place like him and this documentary means it. Some people are inseperable from their home. I don’t feel nearly so rooted and most people I know can’t even paint their off-white walls in their rented apartments, much less modify it to suit the most arcane elements of their personality. The people in this film chose a place and then rooted themselves deep deep until everything they are is in their house. Chris Smith (American Movie) lovingly frames the eccentricities of his characters and gets you thinking about the meaning of “place”. According to Home Movie, location IS everything.

The documentary follows five unique and extraordinary homes along with the people they keep in them. It’s as if the homes themselves chose a human to come and help it express its deepest longings. In each case, a philosophy of life underlies each of the homes.

Smith found a thousand interesting homes and over a hundred that fit his stricter criteria. “The home had to be interesting but so did the people. They also had to live in their home. I wanted somebody where [their home] was for no other reason than they just had this inspiration and this drive to create this environment that they wanted to live in. Finding that match of personality and property and how those intergrated was the defining factor in if the people worked or not.”

A couple who live in a converted Missile Silo engaged in a laborious act of transforming something that was meant for destruction into a life-affirming shelter where they gather with their friends to make music. Their act of transforming the silo is tied into their efforts to create a peaceful world. A woman who lives in a treehouse deep in a lush Hawa’ain valley loves plants “to an absurd degree” and says she’s not sure if she’s the owner of the tree house or the property of the tree. She thinks at some point she will have all her furniture outside as the lines between inside and outside blur.

The Hawa’ain segment was inspiring and I thought she was the luckiest woman in the world. She has a waterful on the property that runs a generator that supplies all the electricity she needs in the middle of a jungle. To get to the road, she has to cross a river but before she does, she recites a lengthy prayer in Hawa’ain and upon safe crossing thanks the Gods who helped her, “mahalo, mahalo, mahalo”. She’s also got a hotty little didgeridoo playing houseboy to fetch her fruit and tend to the property.

Then there is the cat couple who have designed their home to not only reflect their love for their cats but it is designed to be a cat paradise.

The paranormal researcher / inventor who has created a 60’s B-grade sci-fi house complete with a fireworks launcher in the roof. His latest research involves hypnotizing his new, younger wife, so her body won’t age.

And then the crocodile hunter living on houseboat on a Bayou in Lousiana who also has found a perfect complement in personality and place. His privelege in life is to live in a vast lotus field thus attracting out of town guests when the flowers are in bloom.

The metaphysical, deeper meaning, lotus, peace, nature, transformation, war and peace are themes that run through each story. While unintentional, it seemed to be what the documentarians got when they sought out the owners of these unusual homes. The houses are a convenient excuse to explore human adaptation and cooperation with not only nature, but spirit and each other. It’s not explicit, but its there, in between the lines. The design elements of each home were focused around sustainability, adaption, celebration, cooperation and process, which are all feminine principals.

I don’t think that means I can draw a broad metaphor about the feminine and freedom loving people with a deep connection to self but the documentary shades that in to a great degree. It’s a nice peep into the lives of people you don’t usually meet. Home Movie is inspiring and instructive about what’s possible. And the houses are pretty cool, too.

The film screens with the short Heavy Metal Parking Lot filmed at a Judas Priest concert in 1986. Everyone seems so much more grown up then their age. Those people that would have been Sabbath fans in the 80s are now Blink 182 and Eminmen fans. My theory is that while everyone is saying kids are growing up faster, I think they are staying immature longer.

Heavy Metal Parking Lot started as a joke but it kept replicating itself and passed from hand to hand, video store to video store and now, irony aside, it’s a legitimate document of the subculture. John Heyn and Jeff Krulik just let the people in the parking lot speak for themselves. And while I’m sure there is some cocky, witty comment that I should include here since it was THOSE VERY PEOPLE that made my life a living hell for being a freaky little club kid and queer in the best sense of the word, they do a good enough job embarassing themselves that I don’t have to. I want to call up all the people in the short just to call them an asshole.

The funniest bit of all this is that elements of the rocker style have been rappropriated and made into something like punk/camp by the new regime of twenty something club hoppers. And that shit was tack-ay but kinda sexy since it showed everything off. But I feel a little dirty thinking about the lust I had at 16 for 20 year old rocker dudes and now at 32 looking at the same 20 year old.

Pansy Division has a song called “Heavy Metal Boyfriend” that subverts the whole hyper-macho rocker culture. Not to mention Rob Halford of Judas Priest is a big fag himself and telling the world about it on “our” music station, VH-1. You should bring a Walkman and listen to the Pansy Division while watching the short. It’ll bring the whole scenario into a sharp perspective. Recontextualization is the best revenge.

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originally posted: 05/10/02 15:27:50
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User Comments

6/10/02 yoda Plagued by bad acting, was this film. 1 stars
5/26/02 Indrid Cold Nothing special. Think drive-in/make-out type movie 3 stars
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  24-May-2002 (NR)



Directed by
  Chris Smith

Written by
  Chris Smith

  Linda Beech
  Francis Mooney
  Diana Peden
  Ed Peden
  Darlene Satrinano
  Ben Skora

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