In The Soup

The main reason to see Alexandre Rockwell’s flaky, independent black-and-white comedy (1992) about an aspiring filmmaker (Steve Buscemi) on New York’s Lower East Sidea movie one feels was made every few months during the late 60s is John Cassavetes veteran Seymour Cassel, playing a petty crook with a heart of gold who suddenly appears to the hero like a fairy godfather (no pun intended, despite his compulsive displays of physical affection) to serve as his producer. The movie seems conceived according to the joint emblems of Jim Jarmusch (who appears in a cameo, along with Carol Kane) and Cassavetes rather like the first episode in Jarmusch’s Night on Earth, which used Gena Rowlands as an emissary from Cassavetes’s world. Here Cassel seems to be a variation on the noble/foolish hero played by Ben Gazzara in Cassavetes’s The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, but you certainly don’t have to know this source to respond to Cassel’s enormous funds of charm and charisma. (There’s also a wonderful performance by Sully Boyer as one of the crook’s incidental victims.) With Jennifer Beals, Pat Moya, and Will Patton. R, 90 min. (

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