Wednesday, July 7, 2010

HALL OF FAME - BLUE IN THE FACE (1995) by jeff

CAST: Harvey Kietel, Jared Harris, Victor Argo, Keith David, Roseanne Barr, Michael J. Fox, Giancarlo Esposito, Lou Reed, Jim Jaramusch, Malik Yoba, Lilly Tomlin, Mel Gorham, Mina Sorovino, Madonna, Jose Zuniga, Michael Badalucco, Debra Wilson

Written (situations) & Directed By: Wayne Wang & Paul Auster
Cinematography By: Adam Holender
Editor: Christopher Tellefsen

This film while not one of the best films made the list of my favorites with ease. It has a laid back comfortableness that makes watching the film make you feel like a film you have seen before and can never watch it enough. It’s one of the few films I can watch over and over and never get tired of it.

This film wasn’t supposed to happen it only did come into being because the film SMOKE finished a week ahead of schedule and under budget so the director and screenwriter Celebrated Author Paul Auster decided why not make a mini movie a pseudo sequel. So they had 6 days to come up with a idea film it and with half the cast gone they decided amongst themselves and the cast to call up any friends who were available and wanted to be in the film for improved scenes held together by a loose narrative and thin plot. So the film plays more like a series of scenes that are only connected through a main character and location the smoke shop.

It’s more like a companion piece then a sequel, but it is so freewheeling it’s like a Freelance jam session where you think you have the rhythms figured out and are getting into the groove but before you know it it’s changed up it’s style and your expectations. Usually I only see this type of thing happening in horror films.

The film plays like the block party that ends the film. It takes place right at the beginning of the gentrification of Brooklyn and plays eclectic and with a lot of multi-culturalism. You get the rare chance to actually see the actors having fun in what they are doing and it must have been infectious with the celebrities they get to cameo in the film. Since the narrative is so loose the actors allow themselves to be open and on there toes but with a good amount of professionalism. So its’ not like you pay to see them be leisurely and telling inside jokes. Now while not all of the cameos work at least they tried and came out to support the film and it’s actors. If I could use a word to describe the film is it feels homemade. Something that is safe makes you nostalgic all at once.

Harvey Kietel really shines in his role and surprisingly it’s the cameos by non filmmakers that are the most memorable Musician Lou Reed, Director Jim Jaramusch., and Rupaul. So automatically the film has indie cool but isn’t pretentious. Plus a song on the soundtrack performed and written for the film by the late Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead fame. The video to the song Coffee & Cigarettes is included right before the film

I went to see the film twice in theaters it s very quotable and it presents itself as a type of film when I hopefully achieve my dream of filmmaking I would like to make. It’s experimental. So if you are looking for a straightforward narrative blockbuster film this is not for you. But if you are an indie fan it’s a must see. I remember reading all the movie magazines like FILM THREAT and PREMIERE about it and while I never made it to go out and see smoke I knew this film I would catch so with my usual companion at the time my cousin Aziza we went to see this film to a half full theater. It was one of the good times I remember really enjoying a film at the Angelica Theater and living up to it’s admittedly limited hype.

I can’t really go into the plot because really there isn’t one. The film takes place in a week inside a Smoke shop that is due to be closed and the neighborhood comes out to say goodbye to it and the staff as they reminisce over there memories. While seeing how it will affect the citizens of the neighborhood.

It’s like the Pseudo sequel so SMOKE where as that film was deeply dramatic this film is more silly and fun.

I know I’m giving the movie probably more credit then it deserves, but it is a movie that means a lot to me. So while the grade I give it isn’t grand. It means more then just a grade.

It’s short and sweet and while not perfect is worth seeking out. Give it a chance I don’t think you’ll be sorry


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