28 July 2001 | Katmiss
A GENUINELY STRANGE FILM
Brian DePalma's "Home Movies" is a genuinely strange film. It is hard to believe that DePalma made this. It doesn't have the superb technical credits that you come to expect from him. It doesn't have a logical story (for DePalma that is). And it doesn't have the big budgets DePalma's films are accustomed to ("Sisters" has a budget of 500,000 bucks; this film was made on a few thousand)
What it does have is a goofy charm that most Hollywood comedies lack these days. The story is nonsense, but that's a good thing in this case. And the low budget is appropriate because it suits the story. Most of the cast are from other DePalma films, of which I'll let you know.
The film stars Kirk Douglas ("The Fury")as The Maestro (the video title), a teacher who films his life constantly. He attempts to have his prize pupil Keith Gordon ("Dressed to Kill")do the same, but he has problems of his own. The object of his affection is Nancy Allen ("Dressed to Kill", "Carrie", "Blow Out"), a hooker who has too many vices for her own good. The problem? She is attached to Gordon's brother (wonderfully played by Gerrit Graham, who appeared in most of DePalma's early films and just about stole "Soup for One"), who is a nut.
All this is established within the first 25 minutes or so and the film's success depends on all of the surprises DePalma sets up, so I won't reveal any more. Some people might be turned off of "Home Movies" possibly due to the content, but more probably due to the visual style. Today's audiences are accustomed to gloss and if they don't get it, they protest. If you are one of those people, I just want to say three words: SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!! How dare you criticize a film just because it doesn't look glossy like Hollywood product does? "Pi", a film I admired highly, had the same dilemma. Made on a shoestring budget, the film's grittiness helped it more than hurt it and the same goes for "Home Movies".
DePalma shoots on 16mm and makes the film look like someone's home movies, which is appropriate since the Kirk Douglas character is constantly filming his own life (and others). Also, give DePalma credit for helping his students get a first credit (the film was made as a class project for Sarah Lawrence College). Robby Benson did a similar thing in 1990 with "Modern Love" and was heavily criticized, despite the fact that it was a good, strong film. "Home Movies" isn't as strong as his more accomplished thrillers, but it is a very entertaining movie that had me smiling most of the way. And how can you hate any movie that casts Gerrit Graham as a slimeball?
*** out of 4 stars