A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
The new film, called "Blue in the Face," was shot in six days, and sometimes feels like it. Keitel provides a benevolent and stabilizing presence as characters wander into the shop, light up and interact. Some of the bits work and others don't, but no one seems to be keeping score, and that's part of the movie's charm.
The movie begins well, with an early scene where Mira Sorvino plays a woman whose purse is snatched in front of the store.
Keitel races after the little boy who grabbed it, and hauls him back to the store, only to discover that Sorvino has taken pity on him and doesn't want to press charges. Keitel, who has seen a lot of purses snatched, tells her the cops should be called, and when Sorvino doesn't budge, what he does next follows a certain seductive logic.
If the movie had continued in this vein, as slices of street corner life, it might have worked better. But it doesn't. Some of the other scenes play more like guest shots on "Saturday Night Live," and by the end of the film we aren't much surprised when RuPaul turns up to lead the whole cast in a song and dance number. Roseanne, Madonna and other luminaries have already drifted through, and for every bit that works (like Jim Jarmusch's ritualistic preparations for smoking his last cigarette), there's one that feels forced and artificial.