Sunday, November 19, 2006

[1980] HOME MOVIES: Hey--more De Palma! Like Gates of Heaven I am sure this only a 1980 film by some obscure technicality, but whatever. It's a De Palma comedy, which means it isn't laugh out loud funny (for the most part), more an exercise in absurdity. Like when Keith Gordon dons blackface as a disguise to catch his dad in the act of cheating on his mom so he can finalize their divorce. Or when Nancy Allen's evil alter ego turns out to be a rabbit puppet (like the Ventriloquist in Batman) who wants her to go back to being a stripper. Kirk Douglas is wandering through the picture as a film director who has made Gordon's family his subject matter--there's frequent cuts between Douglas' movie-in-the-movie and the movie itself, but there's no clear dividing line between the two. And Gerrit Graham (the Gordon character's brother) is an insane Iron John-like men's empowerment cultist. Supposedly De Palma made this with a class on independent filmmaking at Sarah Lawrence, and it definitely has a student film aesthetic to it, no split screens or crazy crane shots. But it's also supposed to be the closest thing De Palma ever did to an autobiography--Keith Gordon's Denis Byrd is supposed to be a stand-in for young De Palma (he's nerdy, technically apt, unable to get a fraction of the attention from his mother that she showers on his older brother (Graham), and he has a major crush on Nancy Allen.) Basically, you'll love this if you're a De Palma fan, and if you're not it's an amusing little curiosity.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that the opening credits is done over animated versions of the actors done over as horrific caricatures--which actually is a possible metaphor for the rest of the movie. Nothing is creepier to me than creepy animation for some reason.

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