Home Movie (review)

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In 1999, documentarian Chris Smith brought us the triumphantly pathetic American Movie, about one man’s quest to make a low-budget horror film. Now, he gives us Home Movie, in which he uses that same cockeyed but sympathetic lens to introduce us to more true American originals: kooky but engaging people who live in weirdly fascinating houses. Sure, they might bring down the property values if they lived in your neighborhood, but across the safe distance film provides, they’re a hoot, from the crazy cat couple of California who’ve transformed their home into a haven for pussums to the New Age hippies who live in a modified missile silo in Kansas. Smith’s approach is never to tease, except gently and in that way that makes us consider our own eccentricities and how they are expressed through our homes. Also playing with Home Movie is Heavy Metal Parking Lot, the infamous underground short documentary from 1986. John Heyn and Jeff Krulik took their camera to the parking lot of a Maryland arena and spent the hours before a Judas Priest concert talking to fans, and the results are hilarious: skinny high-school guys with black t-shirts or bare, sunken chests; gals with big hair and no compunctions about propositioning Rob Halford on camera; and muscle cars galore. It’s a riot, but it’s probably a good thing it’s only 15 minutes long — the flashbacks to high school are horrifying.

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