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.