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PEOPLE SAY I’M CRAZY John Cadigan is a large, bearded, often morose, sometimes not morose, sometimes far worse than morose, schizophrenic in his early 30s. Katie Cadigan, one of his two sisters, older than John but looking younger, is a lively, attractive, spirited woman who, like John, grew up in the Danbury, Connecticut, area, but as an adult has mostly lived, as does John, in Northern California. Together they have made a film about John, his illness, his family — mother, father, two sisters, one brother — his occasional friends, and his life and work as an artist. It is an 83-minute documentary called “People Say I’m Crazy.” The first thing to be said about John Cadigan, on the evidence of his woodcuts and other art work in the film, is that he is a real artist whose striking iconography, whether or not intended, bears graphic, and other overtones, resemblance to the German and Austrian Expressionists and ancient Japanese masters. That with all of his emotional ups and ferocious downs Cadigan could still turn out this work says a great deal both about art and about him. Cinema Village. (J. Tallmer)

COFFEE AND CIGARETTES Indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch challenges the notion that anything in life is “larger than life” with “Coffee and Cigarettes,” a series of short films on a unified theme: the humble coffee break, with its requisite small talk, accompanying cigarettes, and absolute normality. Bringing together an all-star cast including Iggy Pop, the White Stripes, Bill Murray, Roberto Benigni, Steve Buscemi, and Wu Tang’s GZA and RZA, Jarmusch treads over the same ground with featherlight precision, each new set of players extolling the virtues or damning the vices of coffee and cigarettes, conspiracy theory, Nikola Tesla, and more. Much identical dialogue also carries over from one short to the next, including the obligatory toast that punctuates each scene. Yet Jarmusch resists letting “Coffee and Cigarettes” become a sight gag; a skilled magician, he distracts the viewer with this fun pretense while delving into deeper issues like the meaning of family, and the idea of fame as something that both opens doors and creates prisons. A clever turn by Cate Blanchett playing both herself and her free-wheeling cousin illustrates this dichotomy to tragicomic end. Cinematically, Jarmusch’s use of black (coffee) and white (cigarettes) photography is too effective to be mere ploy. Those with a close eye will revel over the small details like the high art arrangement of objects of everyday use, and will note that each player flicks a different brand of cigarette into a different, unremarkable ashtray. Playing Citywide. (W. Mccroy)

BULGARIAN LOVERS “Bulgarian Lovers” is a romantic drama from Spain about Daniel, a 40-something gay man who becomes hopelessly smitten with Kyril a young Bulgarian with a bulge in his pants. Although Daniel maintains that he is a gentleman, and Kyril maintains that he is straight, the two men share some pretty passionate moments. Daniel is a patsy who ignores his friends’ warnings about getting involved with Kyril, and Kyril is shameless in using sex to get what he wants. While the point of “Bulgarian Lovers” may be to show how (Daniel’s) love is blind, he emerges as unsympathetic because he seems to want Kyril to take advantage of him. The film tries to convey the view that Bulgarians fall prey to screwy logic, such as when they shake their heads “no,” but actually mean “yes.” If this is meant to be a charming irony, consider Kyril’s explanation that although he is straight, and married to his girlfriend, it is okay for him to fuck Daniel because it is not cheating when he is with another man. Quad Cinemas. (G. Kramer)

The Saddest Music in the World In 1933 Winnipeg, amputee beer baron Lady Port-Huntly holds a contest to determine what country’s musicians make the saddest music in the world. The $25,000 prize, offered at the peak of the Great Depression, draws groups from all over the world. Chester Kent and his amnesiac girlfriend Narcissa enter as the American contestants, although Chester is originally from Winnipeg. His father represents Canada in the contest, while his brother Roderick, disguised behind a veil and false mustache, pretends to be a Serbian cellist. “The Saddest Music In The World” grapples with what it means to be Canadian. Not surprisingly, that entails some engagement with the U.S. Maddin’s critique of America is sharper and subtler than Lars von Trier’s sledgehammer allegories. His American Dream seductively encourages immigrants to assimilate by aping their new culture’s most meretricious and vulgar aspects. As a wannabe American, Chester’s showbiz pizzazz attempts to hit new heights of excess, especially when he tries to win the contest by co-opting foreign musicians to work with him. In pretending to be European, his brother also seems ashamed of his Canadian roots. Playing Citywide. (S. Erickson)

GYPSY 83 Todd Stephens penned the wonderful, semi-autobiographical coming out drama, “Edge of Seventeen.” His latest film, “Gypsy 83,” which he both wrote and directed, is an unofficial companion film to “Seventeen,” continuing the emotional narrative of a gay small town boy dreaming of a better life in New York City. The film begins in Sandusky, Ohio (the same town as “Seventeen”) where Clive dresses like the Cure’s Robert Smith and hangs out with his best friend Gypsy a Stevie Nicks wannabe. With their offbeat fashion sense and musical sensibilities, it does not take much for the pair to raise more than a few eyebrows in town. Treated as “freaks and losers” by both their peers and strangers, both Gypsy and Clive are looking to belong. What is more, Gypsy hopes to reunite with her long-lost mother, Velvet, while Clive wants to lose his virginity to another man. The odd couple get their chance when Clive learns about a “Night of 1,000 Stevies” concert event in New York City. Hitting the road, they begin a journey that, of course, transforms them. While the road movie narrative is as old as “The Wizard of Oz,” “Gypsy 83” accepts this fact, and tries to introduce interesting characters to distinguish the story. Bambi Le Bleau is an “Internatio­nal Recording Artist and Karaoke Hostess Extraordin­aire” who teaches Gypsy about the price of fame. Zachariah is a studly Amish guy the travelers pick up hitchhiking, and they have fun determining if he is straight or gay. Then there is the frat boy who secretly catches the eye of Clive, away from the judgment of his college buddies. As Gypsy and Clive learn more about their new friends, their luster begins to wear off, and things are a bit less special than they originally thought. City Cinemas Village East (G. Kramer)

CONNIE AND CARLA “Connie and Carla,” a modern-day remake of the 1959 classic “Some Like It Hot.” In this modern-day retelling, Connie and Carla play lifelong buddies with a dream—mostly Connie’s dream—to make it as cabaret stars. Sadly, the pair seems destined for heartbreak, despite their sunny demeanors. When they witness the murder of a witless nightclub employee who has stolen the Mafia’s cocaine, they hop in their station wagon and head for the sunny shore—not Florida, like Curtis and Lemmon, but California, a cultural wasteland safely devoid of dinner theater. On the way, they accidentally discover a mystery package in a purse, and bust open the mob’s stash, sending it flying in a pricey cloud down the highway. The girls think they’ll be safe and happy in the land of earthquakes and high crime rates, until they realize their tap dancing days have afforded them no job skills. Stopping at a gay bar to drown their sorrows, they witness the world of drag. Connie, hearing that the club seeks a new act, convinces Carla to pretend they are men, pretending to be women. One––sung, not lip-synched!––“Cabaret” number later, they’re in. Soon after, the duo are the toast of gay L.A., happily performing and throwing off their gay neighbors just enough to pass as men. That changes when lonely Connie (literally) bumps into Jeff a nice guy looking to make amends with his gay, cross-dressing brother Robert/Peaches. The two hit it off, and Jeff can’t seem to shake his feelings for Connie, if only he was “that way.” Meanwhile, the mob has sent a hit man to scope out every dinner theater between Baton Rouge and Boca Raton in order to find the girls. He discovers nothing more than his secret love for “Mame,” until Carla’s loveable doofus of a boyfriend unwittingly tells the mob boss he received a mystery call from California, and the gig is up. Connie and Carla evade the mob long enough to perform with a cadre of new drag queen friends and special guest Debbie Reynolds, and make a sad bar owner’s dream of opening a dinner theater in L.A. a reality. Carla breaks down and bares her heart, and her breasts, to a disgusted crowd of gay men, Connie. Playing citywide. (W. McCroy)

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND Written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Gondry, “Eternal Sunshine” shows a fascination with the byways of memory and the infinite possibilities of the editing room. Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) meet twice, first before the opening credits, the second time well into the film. Depressed about Valentine’s Day coming up, Joel takes the Long Island Railroad out to Montauk. There he meets a blue-haired woman, Clementine, in a coffee shop. She makes the first move, striking up a conversation on the train back. They wind up going home together. Joel’s friend shows him a card from a company called Lacuna Inc., but requests that Joel not mention his name to Clementine. We learn that both Clementine and Joel were customers the company, which erases one’s memories of a particular person. Joel and Clementine’s relationship forms the prologue and epilogue to the film’s real meat: the night in which Joel’s memories are wiped from his mind. In this non-narrative sequence, Joel decides that he wants to remember Clementine after all. He recalls happy times, but arguments and tense moments pop up as well. Their attraction to each other is obvious, but so are the reasons they couldn’t stay together. Playing Citywide. (S. Erickson)

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Updated 5:14 pm, July 20, 2018
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