From surreal stop-motion to method-acted mania, director Colin Healey peels back the layers of inspiration in his newest feature.
Cinema is a lively and never-ending conversation that blossoms across time and space, which is part of what makes it such a dynamic and enduring art form. In this new post series, some of our favorite independent film directors will walk us through their movies with an eye towards the rich tapestry of their cinematic catalysts. It’s like DVD commentary (remember that?) but interactive! Welcome to Filmmakers Under the Influence.
We’re thrilled to kick off the series by taking a deeper look at Colin Healey’s quirky, soulful coming-of-age domestic drama Homemakers, which is now playing in select NYC theaters and, thanks to Fandor, at your house. Healey also wrote this story of an enfant terrible whose efforts to fix up an inherited house create an allegory for more spiritual renovations, but movies are never made in a vacuum, and so he was generous enough to walk us through the amazing moments of his film that were shaped by his own “mental queue” of movies seen over the years. Without further ado, we’ll let Colin tell (and show) you in his own words:
Alice (1988), directed by Jan Svankmajer
My mother introduced this to me. A healthy diet of Jan Svankmajer is good character-building, and Alice is dusty and cluttered, obliterating the line between domestic fantasy and claustrophobic nightmare, a frequent theme for the Czech animator. In production, we liked to joke that the Homemakers’ sets looked like Jan Svankmajer had beat up Wes Anderson.
Aguirre the Wrath of God (1972), directed by Werner Herzog
Herzog renders Aguirre and the impossible Amazon jungle with such naturalism that you feel you’re watching a documentary filmed during Spanish conquest. Both this film and Homemakers feature a moment of total supernatural implausibility, depicted casually and without comment. Rachel McKeon (who plays Irene McCabey in Homemakers) is a wonderful person, and Klaus Kinski was by any definition horrible, but they both kill it in the eyes.
A Woman Under the Influence (1974), directed by John Cassavetes
This is the best film I’ve ever seen about relationships and how damaging people can be for one another even when they love each other very much. I can’t watch it without crying. I won’t pretend Homemakers approaches Woman’s continuing social importance, but we did look this particular Cassavetes film for its kinetic blocking and great use of home-space. Gena Rowlands is my favorite actor, and one of Rachel’s, too.
Kid-Thing (2012), directed by David Zellner
Full disclosure: I didn’t see this film until after we had shot Homemakers. But I saw it at a time when I was a bit lost, wondering if Homemakers’ themes and conclusions were going to connect with anyone beyond myself. Kid-Thing’s unsupervised, oft-ignored, disrespectful and persistently destructive young anti-heroine was a nice hint that we were onto something with Irene.
This is John (2003), directed by Jay Duplass
This is a seven minute Duplass short where a man struggles to record an answering machine message that satisfies his sense of self. I loved to teach this film when I taught video to teenagers – another film about a domestic fantasy collapsing into claustrophobia and desperation, self-identity teetering on the brink.
If you haven’t watched Homemakers yet, what are you waiting for? Let us know what other treasures you find on your cinematic scavenger hunt. Happy watching!