Blue In The Face

Easy to take but even easier to leave alone, this 1995 instant spin-off of Smoke was shot in less than a week, shortly after the earlier film wrapped. Wayne Wang and Paul Auster (director and writer of Smoke, respectively) concocted a series of improvs set in and around the same Brooklyn cigar store, featuring a few of the same actors (chiefly Harvey Keitel, who served as executive producer) and numerous guest stars. Madonna turns up to deliver a singing telegram, Jim Jarmusch ruminates on what he claims will be his last cigarette, Lily Tomlin impersonates a street person, Keith David plays the ghost of Jackie Robinson, John Lurie jams with a couple of percussionists, Michael J. Fox does nothing much at all, and so on. The clubhouse atmosphere is a major drawback: the actors seem to be having more fun than the audience, though if you aren’t expecting much you might be diverted. 84 min. (JR)

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