(1995)3Scott EngelShot in five days and with only an outline to follow, Blue in the Face offers many surprises. After falling in love with the idea of Brooklyn, NY, as Anytown, USA, on steroids and uppers, Wayne Wang and Paul Auster convinced the brothers Weinstein of Miramax to give some cash and marketing muscle to a faux documentary on a week in the life of a cigar shop in Park Slope. They also enlisted some of the most famous figurers of the New York underground hip gone big (Lou Reed, Jim Jarmusch, Giancarlo Esposito, Madonna) to ham it up for the camera. Far lighter and much more fun than Smoke, Blue in the Face is not concerned with story or plot as much as it is with characters, of which the film and Brooklyn have no shortage. Jim Jarmusch and Harvey Keitel have a natural ease with each other as they discuss the power of a cigarette. Michael J. Fox has his funniest moment on the big screen as a colorful local with a clipboard, and Lou Reed is hysterical as he explains in his trademark deadpan why he feels comfortable in New York and how he plans to market sunglasses. Some of the real-life folks included in the film are just as compelling, like The Bag Man who feels it's his duty to vacate all plastic bags from tree branches in which they become entangled, and a Coney Island Girl who knows she has to get out of Brooklyn but isn't sure why. The film is a touch overly sentimental about the Dodgers (time to get over it people), and the final production number with RuPaul tries too hard. But as any resident with a 718 area code will tell you, it's refreshing to see a film nail down life in the outer boroughs without resorting to clichés and stereotypes.