Blue in the Face (1995)

This semi-sequel to 1995’s “Smoke” follows the general, episodic blueprint of its predecessor, but with an added focus on comedy, all of which is improvised by its all-star cast. The many vignettes are mostly terrific, with Roseanne’s hostile rambling and Jim Jarmusch’s diatribe about quitting smoking emerging as stand-outs, but there aren’t any weak links along the way. Lou Reed also appears many times as himself, pontificating on his many neuroses with a subversive nudge-and-wink that’s unexpectedly charming, and his recurring inserts are all a lot of fun. There are also many video vignettes of on-the-street interviews with longtime Brooklyn residents that provide genuinely informative and purposeful information about the borough for those of us who haven’t been there (although I understand it’s changed quite a bit over the last decade because of gentrification). In the end, it’s very different than “Smoke” but about on par with it: It’s fine and it’s got its moments, but like “Smoke,” it doesn’t really ever convince you that its story is worth telling – but at least it’s fun to watch so many A-listers indulge in a gutsy experiment like this.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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