Lou Reed, Madonna & RuPaul In Wayne Wang's Blue In The Face

ATN correspondent Margaret Bream reports from the Toronto International Film

Festival: The coolest movie to unspool at this year's filmfest has to be

Blue in the

Face, the follow-up flick to American director Wayne Wang's recent hit

Smoke. In Blue, Harvey Keitel reprises his role as Auggie Wren, the

philosophical

manager of a Brooklyn cigar store that's a haven for the neighborhood's

oddball characters. Of these, the highlight has to be Lou Reed, who deadpans

droll monologues straight into the camera. The inscrutable rocker, who was

born in Brooklyn, offers opinions on everything from the safety of his home

town to the health benefits of smoking.

  • On his fears: "I'm scared, but not necessarily in New York...I get scared

    in Sweden. It's empty, they're all drunks, and everything works. These

    things scare me."

  • On blocking out his unhappy childhood: "I don't remember anything before

    the age of 31."

  • On smoking: "It's a health tool. (When I'm smoking) I'm not downing a fifth

    of scotch every 15 minutes."

In one of the funniest riffs of the film, Reed discusses his entrepreneurial

vision: he's thinking of manufacturing a new line of eyeglasses with a

difference. "Lou's Views" will be like his in the movie: frames with no glass

at all.

Reed also contributes his music to the movie; the closing credits roll over

his new song, "Egg Cream." Also on the soundtrack (due out September 19) are

two cuts from former Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne. The soundtrack

promises to be a powerhouse, featuring a variety of rhythm-heavy Spanish

cuts.

Reed's not the only musician that appears on screen in Blue in the

Face. Also

making cameos that prove that clothes do indeed make the man are RuPaul and

Madonna. The former turns up as an overdressed party animal who teaches

Auggie's Brooklyn neighbors how to cha cha, while Madonna does a blessedly

short spin as a tarty (what else?) singing telegram girl. What a girl's got

to do to get a little exposure!

Even if you care not a whit for Reed, RuPaul or Madonna, Blue in the

Face is

a must-see. In a masterstroke of improvisation, directors Wayne Wang and Paul

Auster have created a wickedly sardonic look at racial integration, sex,

money and life in the '90s through the unlikely metaphors of smoking and

Belgian waffles. As Auggie's boss Vinnie says, "Tobacco's out, Auggie. Wheat

germ's in.