Benjamin Smoke

Jem Cohen and Peter Sillen’s 1999 documentary pays tribute to Robert Dickersonbetter known as vocalist Benjamin Smoke of the offbeat Atlanta band Smokewho died of AIDS shortly after the film was shot. It captures his unaffected honesty and charm and his poetic way with words, but what’s really fine is the filmmakers’ sensitivity in blending all kinds of disparate material. Patti Smith, Dickerson’s first inspiration, let Smoke open for her in Atlanta, which provides the film with a satisfying climax, yet the talking/singing/playing/goofing-off heads that precede this apotheosis are just as watchable (and listenable). 80 min. (JR)

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