No Place Like Home

I had the best intentions of going to shows on Sunday, but a really late flight back into Anchorage made me a zombie most of the day. So the first film I’ve seen thus far in the fest is “No Place Like Home,” Perry Henzell’s second and last feature film (screens 8:30 Thurs at Out North).

A few years ago, my husband and I were torn between renting “The Harder They Come” or “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.” We were looking for something from the ’70s and funky, probably because one of our favorite movies is “Boogie Nights.” “The Harder They Come” won out — it just has a better name. And we loved it. Gritty and authentic, it has a lot of things that make homages to gangsta life appealing. The main character is both lovable and loutish. And it’s easy to see how he becomes caught up in crime, that that’s perhaps the only viable way he has of becoming of supporting himself. It’s also a treat to see Jamaica before it became the cruise-ship destination it is today. There are references in that movie that help explain some of the Jamaican presence in early hip-hop in the celebration of dance and parties and gangster culture. See the book “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop,” by Jeff Chang.

“No Place Like Home” reads like an unfinished work. The last couple of scenes, in which the protagonist, Susan O’Meara, recalls her placid days on the island and we see what became of her lover, just fail to come together.Unlike Orson Welles, who somehow managed to stitch together a watchable “Othello” that was many years in the making, this film needed a better editor.There are some treats, though. The young woman in the shampoo commercial is P.J. Soles who was briefly married to Dennis Quaid and I think had roles in “Halloween” and “Our Winning Season.”And, of course, the music is a highlight, as are the scenes in which Susan nimbly handles her Pentax camera shooting portraits of Jamaicans dancing, picking their way through a chaotic market and hanging out on the beach.

Find out more information for No Place Like Home.

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