Blue in the Face




In the film there is a sense of nostalgia for past days, when a local shop (in this film a tobacconist’s) stood for a meeting place where people could share their ideas, pay one another company and most of all feel united by common values (e.g. friendship, etc.)

What do you feel nostalgic of?

The sequel Blue in the Face, did not meet the critic approval as Smoke.  Can you say why?  Is there anything you did not appreciate of the movie?

Both in Smoke and Blue in the Face, the film director and the filmscript writer, chose famous actors or celebrities from other artistic fields.  Why?  What is the effect?


Can you explain the title “Blue in the Face”?  The dictionary meaning is “exhausted and speechless, as from excessive anger, physical strain, etc.”.  Does this make sense?

What is the view you get of New York? (consider not only the scenes, but also what the actors say about it)


 blue in the faceThe story goes that when director Wayne Wang and writer Paul Auster were making  Smoke, a story about the regulars in a Brooklyn cigar store, they felt such a richness in the characters that they were reluctant to stop after the filming was completed. With their star, Harvey Keitel, as a ringleader, they talked Miramax out of enough money to make another film, right then and there, on the same location, with some of the same actors, plus various celebrities they talked into doing walk-ons.
The new film, called  Blue in the Face, was shot in six days, and sometimes feels like it.  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.
The store’s owner (
Victor Argo
) reveals to Keitel, his manager, that he plans to close down the cigar shop and sell out to a health food chain. Keitel tries to explain that the store is a valuable part of the neighbourhood – that people use it to touch base and stay in touch, and that when enough places close, a neighbourhood dies.
That theme leads to memories of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the way that Brooklyn died a small death when they moved out of town.
There are memories of the Dodgers, augmented with flashbacks, and then a surprise visitor to the store – Jackie Robinson (famous baseball player), turning up like an outtake from "
Field of Dreams."

Here’s an excerpt that features the two best parts, monologues from Lou Reed and Jim Jarmusch:

Lou Reed on living in New York:

I’m scared of my own apartment. I’m scared twenty-four hours a day, but not necessarily in New York. I actually feel pretty comfortable in New York. I get scared, like, in Sweden. You know, it’s kind of empty, they’re all drunk. Everything works. If you stop at a stop light and don’t turn your engine off people come over and talk to you about it. You go to the medicine cabinet and open it up and there’ll be a little poster saying, “In case of suicide, call…” You turn on the TV and there’s an ear operation. These things scare me. New York? No.

Jim Jarmusch smoking his last cigarette ever:

Why is it in every movie there’s a shootout, and when they run out of bullets, they fling the gun away? Like it’s a disposable cigarette lighter or something. What’s up with that? Guns cost a lot of money. Can’t you reload it? You know what I’m saying? They always throw the gun out. And another thing in movies I think is real weird, like war movies, Nazis in movies.  Why do they always smoke like in some weird way…like this? [Holds cigarette upright, between ring and pinky finger]  Yah, vee haf vays of making you talk, Auggie.


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45 risposte a Blue in the Face

  1. anonimo scrive:

    personnally I feel nostalgic of my crew of friends that split up becouse of differnts ages,interests etc…

    maybe the critic did not appreciate the film because of the non-story it deals with:I mean,the setting is the same of smoke, but there aren’t the same stories that underline the relationship with the previous film…maybe the documentary style didn’t like to the critic.

    I found an interesting idea inviting celebrities to participate to the film because it can involve also people who like music and sport and so on…

    I really didn’t understand teh title and his meaning…I will wait the discussion on the wednesday class to make up my own idea on it.

    I liked the view of N.Y. gave by the film character interviewed…it is a truely vision of real life in a big city in which live together different types of etnies, religions, and people in general.

  2. anonimo scrive:

    the previous post is mine….erica…sorry…;-P

  3. anonimo scrive:

    I am nostalgic of the period in which everything was simple, but if it were possible to come back in past I would not like to see this period with the eye of a child. Every problem seems to acquire a different meaning at each age and it is less difficult to face an obstacle a period later because we see it with new eyes. I also find useless to be too nostalgic of a period because if you always look at the past you do not live your present idealizing a period that your mind has purified from bad things.

    The movie was maybe not appreciate for its documentary-like format and also because the theme of nostalgia is threaten in an explicit way. It is also a film which makes the viewers scared from the habitat of New York which seems to be a jungle in which if you live you can make great experience , interiorizing things which can be difficult to meet in other places.Lou Reed is a living example of a people who is survived in New York.He is very scared from the coming corrupted society which is exemplified in “Walk on the wild side”.

    The cigar store was a meeting point in the past for all the people living at Brookline. Now that the baseball team does not exist and that people are much more scared from walking outside they being to be speechless. The anger they prove make them not listening and speaking. An example is the wife of the owner of the shop who can not talk to him because he is not listening. The owner is entering in a new type of society in which the only thing that means something is the business. The cigar store is so a place were people can meet each other just for taking cigarettes and chatting.

    My view of New York is absolutely different.The situation is change very much and I found the city a wonderful place where cultures can meet each other almost in harmony.A fact which stroked me a lot is that near the limousines and skyscrapers there are lots of poor people who are sent away from the police to give a good imagine of New York.When I went to the Bronx lots of people asked me if I wanted to be helped. that means that near lots of esteems there are lots of weaknesses. Auster would have not been such a great writer if he was not born in New York, because all the themes he writes about are taken from that society.

    Perin Marco

  4. anonimo scrive:

    I feel nostalgic of my previous years, when the only important thing was to play with some friends. Now the world is more difficult. We must be responsible of our action, we are put in a society where we feel lost. It was beautiful when our actions didn’t have an ulterior motive. Now, nobody do good action only to help a person, there is always a different purpose. I feel nostalgic of a world based on transparency, innocence, friendship: a hopeful world.

    The film “Blue in the face” didn’t meet the critic approval maybe because it has not the same harshness and simplicity as “Smoke”. I mean that for whom had seen the previous film, it could be seem as a second part of it, a way to give space to those people that had a little part in “Smoke”. Furthermore the critics could have not appreciate the division in sequence with musical breaks.

    I didn’t appreciate the poor acting. I know that the film is the product of 6 days of improvisation, but I like much a film with a unique story-line. Here, there were too many digressions. Although I like the idea of telling and describing New York from the eyes of the characters. Describing the Brooklyn of the past, the Brooklyn of the present and how Brooklyn could be in some years. All that in a comic spirit, where the “engine” was represented by the words (everyone has 10 minutes to speak) and the inspired principle was the spontaneity.

    Blue in the face = to lose the breath. I think that this can be a good definition. The characters had 10 minutes to tell their ideas. Their task was to speak until they were without breath, until the author said them to stop. The colour blue symbolizes a suffocated moment, so represent the state of the characters where they must tell all their thought about Brooklyn in only 10 minutes.

    Santi Monica

  5. anonimo scrive:

    I feel nostalgic of my early childhood days, when life was like a game, when relationships were easier, when emotions and feelings were immaculate, pure, when you could play and have fun with “nothing”.

    During the course of the film, we’re exposed to the Brooklyn of the past, the Brooklyn of today, and an idealized Brooklyn that exists only in memories tinged by nostalgia of the characters. The film explores this sense of belonging that makes this district of New York unique in the memories of its citizen (for example: the loss of the Dodgers team and the dialogues on Belgian waffles).

    Blue in the Face is a low- budget companion piece of Smoke that was filmed in less than a week. It had no script and the direction by Auster and Wang was minimal: that is why there is no plot to speak of, but just a series of disconnected vignettes. The two directors provided comic situations around which the actors could improvise until they were “blue in the face”. This film is designed simply to entertain and is an entirely different sort of film from Smoke. From start to finish in fact, it is pure experimental fun, unprepared dialogues between characters, musical interludes and video inserts (for example: Gorham practicing being sexy in front of the mirror, Argo singing a country song, Jarmusch enjoying his last cigarette, Lou Reed being himself). So, whereas Smoke was a drama, Blue in the Face is surely a comedy.

    Alessandro Piccin

  6. anonimo scrive:

    I don’t feel nostalgic about any moment of my life, all days I live are better than the previous one because everyday I grow up and I became more independent and more responsible!

    About the critics (why should I answer this question? I’m also a critic…). I think that the only possible reason is that the setting and the message are the same as smoke: Presenting the New York, Brooklyn and, in general, the American’s reality.

    About the actors I want only to write that the film is not made by them and so the choose of them is purely to attract people “of the mass” and earn more money from the film.

    I can’t explain the title of the film but I’m sure that Blue in face is something that comes suddenly and assail you.

    New York appears in this film a normal metropolis with good and bad aspects! In the film is not represented the New York of luxury but the everyday New York


  7. anonimo scrive:

    All human beings have tha strange habit to utopize the past: we cancel from our minds most of the feelings we did not like, so we usually remember only the positive things of our past.

    I enjoied more Smoke because there was a real plot, that there is not in Blue In The face. Probably that is the reason because the critics did not appreiciate it. The use of famous people is funny, because it reminds that they are not so different from common people.

    About the title, i have absolutely no ideas. I am expecting a good explanation.

    Damiano Verardo

  8. anonimo scrive:

    I actually didn’t live such a long life, maybe when I will be 30 I would be nostalgic. The only thing I can complain about childhood is that you don’t have complications in relationship but I have to say that now-a-days I try to keep relations as simpler as possible, without searching dramas or fights, sometimes they are inevitable but I go over them.

    I appreciate more “Blue in the Face” than “Smoke” but I can imagine why it becomes less famous, I suppose that is because of his specific topic, maybe only smokers of NY can understand it in a deeply way. But I have to say it was a great fun seeing Lou Reed acting with his strange model of eyeglasses or Madonna being a sexy telegraph postman.

    The title is about a phrase Auggie said to his girlfriend that accused him to cheat on her, so he got upset.

    My mental image of NY is of a city where, even if it is very big there are still some values left (friendship, love, loyalty). The cigars shop is a meeting point, but also a melting pot where different ethnics can talk and relate one to other.

    Francesca Cazorzi

  9. anonimo scrive:

    I agree with what Damiano has written about feeling nostalgic. Anyway when I think about my childhood I remember that all was simple and easy, so sometimes I would like to come back in the past but never grow up, but I know that is impossible.

    Maybe “Blue in the face” does not meet the critical approval of “Smoke” because of the way it is narrated: there are pieces of stories that are not legate. In this film there is not a storyline: it is described Brooklyn, how was in the past, how is in the present and how would be in the future. This is why I don’t really appreciate the movie, but maybe for someone else this is why someone could appreciate it.

    I found funny some exhibition of artist from other artistic fields like Madonna’s performance. Maybe the film director has chosen actors from other artistic fields to amuse who is watching the film..

    New York is a city in continuous changing (as every city). In Brooklyn there are people from different countries and of different religion, so sometimes there could be some problems with relationships. It is nice to understand that Belgian waffles, the official food of Brooklyn have little to do with any food served in Belgium. So why are they called Belgium waffles) Maybe to capture the attention of the person who is pass along the street that could think: “ Well, I don’t have enough money to go in Belgium, but I have money to eat a Belgium waffles so lets do it” (ok, it is a ridiculous example XD).

    Federica Battistin

  10. anonimo scrive:

    Guarino Ilaria

    Personally i can say that the only thing i feel nostalgic of is the presence of my relatives that are far from me.And i feel nostalgic even at the thought of not see largest part of my classmates once i finished school.

    Blue in the Face did not meet the critical approval maybe because the character and the setting were somehow “recycled”.But often happens that films produced by the great American film industry,reproduces something already seen before such as films like “mission impossible” or “Harry Potter” or sequel like these.So i think that for these reason and also for the feature of the film and the way it was created the critic did not approval Blue in the Face.

    Personally i found the film brilliant and i really enjoyed whatching it.It was strange but involving,funny but deep.It seems like a deep analysis of Brooklyn and its thousend faces.Reveals the pro and cons of this city with humor,hysteria and irony.The integration of pieces of “interview” made by ordinary people who entered and left the tobacconist s shop gives to the film authenticity as if the film had lived by this people.People of different ethnic groups living the shop in the sameway they live their Brooklyn.

    I really apreciated this movie in it complex and even because i am really in love with Auggie:)I think he fully rappresent the soul of Brooklyn and incorporates the attitudes of those who live there.

    Paul Auster chose celebriies from other artistic field and gave them very extravagant roles maybe to give to the film a relevant importance.The effect is a real bomb.

    I think that more properly Blue in the Face is a way to express when you feel angry and you are losing controll.Is a way to express a feeling of deep anger.

  11. anonimo scrive:

    Probably blue in the face has not received the same criticism of smoke since it merely give an image of nostalgic brooking, although there are some moment of reflection on life. The plot is less complex: it presents different types of characters, all dissimilar and particular, that one at a time added a special feature of district of brooking emphasing that what makes it unique is the promiscuity of ideas and races.

    Paul Auster probably has chosen the same setting of the other film because between the tow films there is a link: as in smoke time was a set of instants all similar but different, in blue in the face the society is composed of many individuals all similar, but fortunately each different and particular.

  12. anonimo scrive:

    franceso marson

  13. anonimo scrive:

    I feel nostalgic of my childhood, the period in which all was so simple compared to now, but I also feel nostalgic of the moments in which I felt happy. In this moment I really miss last summer… The best summer I’ve ever lived (for the moment) and every time I hear a song that reminds it to me, I feel glad but also sad, because I know that moment will never come back, and next summer will be completely different… The exams at school, at university… All will change, also people around me. And I’m already nostalgic of them, even if the year has not finished yet.

    I think “Blue in the face” did not meet the critical approval as Smoke because of its contents. It is a pleasant movie, but is more similar to a documentary than to a tragicomedy (as Smoke), and the themes treated are not as deep as those approached in the previous film. I really liked this film, because there is continuity with the previous one (in the setting, the characters) but also some news, that makes it completely different. I did not appreciate the appear of Madonna, because she is always half-naked… But this element “fits” the film, anyway.

    The effect is strange… We can see artists improving their capability of acting, and this makes the movie really interesting. I really appreciated Lou Reed’s theory about glasses… It seems absurd, as many things in life, but it is not.

    The title makes sense, because Auggie tells he is “blue in the face”, in fact he is angry… Life deceives men, and when you think something is over, it comes back on time (see his lover of youth).

    New York seems to be a really complicated city… There are so many cultures living there, and so many problems between them… Ney York has also a symbol, Belgian waffles, that are not Belgian, actually. It is a city guided by interests, as the Auggie’s boss will to sell the shop and the disappearance of Dodgers demonstrate. Anyway, the fantastic thing is that “tradition” wins in the film, in fact a player (who’s now dead) “appears” to the boss and convinces him not to sell the shop.

    Giulia Marcassa

  14. anonimo scrive:

    I’m honest,i don’t like so much the film “blue in the face”, I don’t understand the sense of it.I only saw in the film people who quarrelled,who talked about the city,who expressed themselves about something in particular and who opened up with Auggie.”Smoke” is better than “blue in the face”,because in this last film there is nothing special,the scenes are not linked each other,the film is dotted with sketches from Brooklyn, there isn’t a real plot.Yes,there are famous actors and celebrities from other artistic fields because they represent the icon of American culture and Paul Auster wants to criticize the society of USA.They don’t give a beautiful image of them:for example Madonna who is almost naked (as she is used to be) and has a singing telegram,she does an appearance,but then,what does she do?Nothing.I am not surprised that she accepted to do only this,because she wanted to appear in the film even if for few seconds.

    Well “to get blue in the face” means “to get angry,to get mad” and this makes sense because in the film you see people who have got problems and who run to tobacconist’s shop, where works Auggie,to tell him their problems as if he is a confidant.

    The view i get of New York?Well,I always thought about New York as the most busy city in the world,with lots of people who walk and run up and down in the roads. You see it also in other films.When I saw the film i thought the same, because you see lots of people,the skywalks full of people,but there is another element that distinguishes New York from other cities:well in every part of the world there is always somebody who steals.I don’t know why,but I think that in New York is more often than in other parts.Yes also in London but New York is the Melting Pot,things like this happens everyday there.It is also true,and I think this thing not only because I saw it in the film but because I thought,there somebody helps you to catch the person who has stolen you something.In Italy, for example,the thieves don’t act during the day,seldom,but in the night and they steal in the house most of all.It is also true that if happens something during the day, nobody helps the person who is in difficulty,everybody thinks about her/himselves.So,I agree with Lou Reed when he said that he is scared,yes he isn’t scared in New York because it is his city and he knows it,but in other parts he fears.I am scared also in my country and in my city because nowadays you should see behind you everywhere.I am scared also to get out in the night…Perhaps this is the reality…..

    Santarossa Barbara

  15. anonimo scrive:

    Blue in the face is not as “intellectual” as Smoke, it could be the reason why the critic was not too enthusiastic about it. Then it is an experimental movie, a sort of documentary, it is uncommon and perhaps they appreciate a more traditional kind of films. on the other hand I personally found this originality its strongest point.

    About the cameos present in the movie, I must admit that I did not recognise most of them, for example this Lou Reed that I had never seen before seems to be very popular in the US. Anyway, the role played by Madonna is quite ridiculous, I though that she had been employed just for marketing reasons but your interpretation is more interesting than mine: the authors decided to speak a language that also common people can understand, and this language expresses the consumer American culture. Summarizing, it is social criticism. Actually it is true, these celebrities are not famous for their exemplar life or high works. But does it mean that the authors chose them… to criticize them? This could give a sense to Madonna’s presence in the movie!

    The central point of the movie is Brooklyn, (Mr Auster is obsessed with it, isn’t he?) but the interesting thing is that this time the city is shown by real inhabitants, who say some statistic about it and by the “free” comments of the actors: its pro & cons, the urban legends, the peculiarities that make it unique.

    It is a very nostalgic and passionate portrait of the city.

    federica zille

  16. anonimo scrive:

    “Blue in the face” is a film by Wayne Wang and Paul Auster which deals with the people and the life in Brooklyn. The main Character, Auggie, is the same as in “SMOKE” by the same directors and also the set is unchanged. Auggie is the shop-assistant in the same cigar shop of the first film and, as in the first film, his store is the shelter of the buyers, who held together by a series of circumstances/coincidence. The film has some ideas which had been left behind in the previous film, giving the film some peculiar characteristics: as far as the shooting, the actors and the language are concerned. The shooting makes the film look like a documentary, most of the characters, were probably taken from the street, in the sense that they were not professional actors. This choice contributed to make the documentary style more realistic. Furthermore the characters, despite they show a very different cultural background, are part of a common American culture. They are witness of the racial integration and, in the film, the cigar shop symbolizes this ethnical mosaic. Nevertheless this film has lots of characteristics of ordinary films: what happens in this store is so unnatural that could be possible only in a film. Wayne Wang, Paul Auster and the actors play with the plot and do the most illogical things in making a documentary. An example of this is Jackie Robinson’s ghost, that appears in order to save the store and unrealistic vision of Brooklyn as a kind of heaven on earth.

    Concluding this is the most unusual film by Paul Auster, which gives the audience a positive feeling of hope and trust in other people’s help.

    Nicola Truant

  17. anonimo scrive:

    “Blue in the Face” is a film really full of nostalgic moments and speeches: all the people that appear in the film speak about their cheerful youth, their past, their previous loves and passions and also about their several and different vices ( the most common of them is obviously smoking!).Everyone who is asked for his own memories about the Dodgers Team, tells they were more than a passion for Brooklyn people, they were like an obsession, even for those who can stand baseball, as they were a pride for the inhabitants of the poor and chaothic Brooklyn and a big disgrace when they moved to Los Angeles. By the way, during the movie some people are interviewed about what they know about their neighborhood and what they like or dislike of it: there are people coming from all over the world, from deeply different cultures, religions, countries, all talking about their lives in brooklyn and what do they feel about them. There is a black man who tells the huge number of muslims that live in New york, and in particular in Brooklyn; and there is a man wearing arabian clothes who tells how many black people are in New York; or an old, poor and anguished woman who tells the number of murders happened just in Brooklyn the year before. (i don’t remember very well who precisely tell what, but the most important thing is the situation and the feelings they create all together with their words spoken through so different accents!). So Brooklyn appears to be a messed up place where gangsters, murderers,beggars,and any kind of miserable people live together, but, in the same time, is a site where there are still people who try to protect themself from its too complex and dangerous reality, thanks to their friendship, mainly born in Auggie cigar’s store. In fact it is this incredible confusion that make the protagonists feel “blue in the face”: thy are so overwhelmed by the life that flows very fast around them, that they need to recover for a while, not to be swallowed by anger and depression.

    Although lots of famous actors and celebrities were called to play a role in this film it didn’t get the same success as Smoke did. I think that’s because of the plain and simple plot, which in fact had been totally improvised! and that’s why the movie story can’t be complicated or heavy, as it has been shot in 6 days and without any script. Most of the famous actors seems to be enjoying themselves during the film, as they can finally do and say whatever they want and also let people know the reality where some of them were born and grown up.

    The only thing i don’t like is the documentary way by means of which the director decided to shot the film: e.g. the division in chapters, the long monologues without any actions and the big jumps (both in time and place) from one of them to the other.


  18. anonimo scrive:

    In my opinion “Blue in the face” has not meet the critical approval because of the lack of a precise story. I did not found a linearity in the plot, maybe for his documentary style. The choice to relate the history and life in brooklyn through numbers and statistics was good and somehow a novelty, but it was a little bit dispersive. The setting was the same of “smoke” and the characters had nothing in common, their stories did not cross each others in a clearly way as it happened in “smoke”. They have their own life, separated from the others. The only thing that somehow unite them is the meeting place, Auggie’s tobaconist.

    Personally i did not find it so intriguing….it is not my standard of film!

    Answering to the first question…I feel nostalgic of my childhood, it seems expected because, as i have noticed by the other posts, lots of other peolpe share my opinion, but if you reflect on it, childhood is the most pure period of our life. You have not responsabilities, you have not worries and you are still too inexperienced to understand the importance of life and all difficulties that are involved.

    Now you must face reality in a different way…you can not take anything for granted and you must face all what comes to you with the awareness of your responsability. I feel nostalgic also of all good moments that i have passed last summer with my friends because i know that it will never happen again….yes, there will be lots of other special moments but those won’t never be replaced!

    Marson Chiara

  19. anonimo scrive:

    sincerely, i didn’t like so much the film. maybe because i prefer a story-line and in “Blue in the face” there isn’t a general plot. but, i appreciate that this film is the mirror of reality, more than “Smoke”, because the actors have improvised all film in 6 days. i think that Paul Auster has decided to do this experiment to exalt the capability of actors and to exalt the personality of the actors, who in general must be different person in a film, but in “Blue in the face” they were real, theri character was “be yourself” and i very like this aspect. but, for me it’s a difficult film to follow, because there isn’t a connection from beginning to the end and there were separated scenes where people sing, tell, dance and joke. the purpose to show the feelings, desires and Brooklyn’s memory of every person. personally, i’m a nostalgic person, but not for my early childhood, but for past happy moments. in general, i’m happy to be an eighteen girl because i know how go the world, but i’m not an adult yet. but i like to think my past…more over to remember happy moment…for example…this summer sang in a concert…well…everyday i dream that moment…i would come back on the stage to feel the same shudders. i’m a nostalgic person for past feelings and i like to remember happy moment, in fact more person say that i’ve a elephant memory!!! 😉

    Laura Sist

  20. anonimo scrive:

    Blue in the face might be boring to many because it doesn’t follow a standard hollywood paradigm of rising action, climax, resolve. It is more documentary style, although fictitious, and quickly jumps from story to story and character to character. The editing is an interesting component because it successfully brings together disparate themes and characters (who are improvising their lines and stories to some degree). This and some fantastical elements provide a very romanticized view of Brooklyn. Altogether a cohesive piece with some nice performances and some insight into what it is to growup and live in a special loved place.

    Plazzotta Federico

  21. anonimo scrive:

    Personally I am nostalgic of my childhood, or, without having to go too far with the memory, even some recent moments in the past. But the strange thing is that we always tend to desire, something in the future, and maybe we look forward to reaching it, and then, when we got it, we feel nostalgic of past time. As Giulia said, I also feel nostalgic for the period of life that I am living now, even if it has not finished yet, because I know that everything will change, in which direction is not known.

    The movie “Blue in the face” deal with a strong sense of nostalgia, shared by all the characters in the Auggie’s cigar shop, which is, once again, an intimate and friendly place where everyone can share their personal experience, in this case, memories. Auggie’s cigar shop is only a small dot in the immense reality of Brooklyn: it is a separate reality, which has little in common with the city of murders and violence, or with the sickness of our society. In my opinion, the film focuses on a small and comfortable reality, which tries, as far as possible, to stay away from the chaos of the “global” Brooklyn. Even if I don’t know how to explain the title, “blue in the face” probably has to do with this sense of anguish at seeing the confusion of Brooklyn, which is taking the upper hand (this is the reason why there is the need to carve out a small space in order to be with friends and share experiences in tranquility). I think this movie has not received the same critic approval of “Smoke” because it was not much studied in the plot (so that was shot in 6 days), but in this aspect there is his truthfulness and closeness to reality.

    Federica Cozzarin

  22. anonimo scrive:

    “Blue in the face” is a documentary film whose task is to show different positive aspects of Brooklyn, a quite big district of New York. The setting is the same of “Smoke”, Auggie’s shop, but I think that this movie did not meet the critic approval because of its discontinuity in the plot and its topics, too close to the Brooklyn’s reality. Actually I really didn’t like the interview, because they were detached from the leitmotif of the movie. To tell you the truth, while I was watching the film I had fun, especially in the scene in which the little boy was caught after having stolen the girl’s bag; but when I came back home it hadn’t left in me any good or bad emotion. The nostalgic feeling comes out not in the parts in which the film treats with the past or the present Brooklyn’s reality, but in which there is the idealization of Brooklyn, the one which only exist in people’s memories, the one of the “Dodgers” age, the only baseball teams which came from there but also which soon was cancelled from the baseball American teams. The title “Blue in the face” stands for angry and the only time which is said is when Auggie’s girlfriend(Mel Gorham) is in front of a mirror, talking about him. I think it could also stands for the feeling that wafts on Brooklyn, in order to represent a strong feeling, to make the other understand it is an alive and multicultural district.

    Carolina Braghin

  23. anonimo scrive:

    Giualia Raineri

    I don’t feel nostalgic because I’m convinced that I have to live my life without regret or nostalgia for the past. I’m proud of my whole life and the present is as good as the past. Sometimes I’m wondering if I have acted in a different way or I’m thinking at a period of two years ago but I get rid of this thoughts. The only way to apreciate the present is to live without nostalgia.

    The sequel Blue in the face didnt meet the critic aproval because of the documentary form of the movie. The film is composed by many shot of scenes diffrerents from each other that hasn’t nothing to do one to other. There isn’t a main plot but the plot changes with the scene change. I don’t apreciate the documentary form of the movie because I prefer a film which has an entire plot that has a begin, a development and a end.

    The title makes sense if we look at the way the film was shot: Paul Auster wanted the actors to recitate their role without a script. They acted and acted till they fell blue in the face as without breath.

    NY is a city that I’ve never seen but I make an idea from the view of actor and Paul Auster too. NY is a city caothic where there isn’t a single culture but lots of different culture and habits cohabit inside. NY is as a multiethinc city, where you can find in it a piece of everywhere of the World.

  24. anonimo scrive:

    What do I feel nostalgic of?? Ahah!! Good question!! I feel nostalgic of childhood, when I didn’t need to ask myself questions, where the only things I cared were: eat, spleep and play; when everyday was a new and beautiful day full of adventures and discoveries, which I faced always with a smile.

    I personally didn’t like “Blue in the face” soo much. I think that the all story doesn’t make a sense. Ok…they are living and talking about NY and Brooklyn…and so what?? I can spot two main “stories”, the one of the four friends that gather together at the tabaconist’s shop, and the one of Auggie and his girlfriend; this stories, even if they are really strange, have somehow a meaning. But all the other sketches, like the interviews at the people who live in NY and at Jim Jarmush, don’t make a sense inside the story (and sometimes it is hard to spot even the meaning of them, if we take them separate). What maked me anguish even more is the for example the interview of Jim Jarmush is 10 minutes long, you see it speaded all over the film, 2 minutes at the beginning, then the camera focuses on Auggie’s relationship, then you see the interview at a newyorker, and then you return again to Jim Jarsmush talking nonsense, and then you ask yourself: “What the hell does all this mean??” I think the camera moves too fast from the situation to another, and this speed, that generally speaking paves the way and prepares the audiance to a tourning point of the story, doesn’t corrispond to a particular changement of the all story in its term.

    In this film there are some famous actors and celebrities, but they play a marginal role in the story and their fame is here ironically minimalized, for ex. Madonna paly the role of a singing telegramm, a famous jazz player plays music in the street…

    I don’t know why the director of the film wanted to cal the film “Blue in the face”, but for sure he gives to this idiom a different meaning from the one of the dictionary, as for sure I can state (at least) that this film doesn’t deal with anger and frustration.

    Chiara Pinardi

  25. anonimo scrive:

    I feel nostalgic of my childhood, maybe. I feel nostalgic of my life when I had not so many worries, when life seemed to be more beautiful, when I had not to think about my future… But growing up is something that couldn’t be avoided. Everybody has to face the difficoulties of life. I don’t feel nostalgic about changes in the world, or in my city, because I’m not old enough to have noticed them. I can’t feel nostalgic of the 60s or the 19th century, because I can only read descriptions of them, I didn’t see them.

    I think the critic didn’t appreciate the film as much as “Smoke” because in “Blue in the Face” there is not a clear and linear plot. There are not different stories mixed up, but only some little scenes of life in Brooklin. It seems to be only a view of the city, and not a film. This is because there was not a script, but only a general thread to follow, and actors were supposed to improvise.

    I think some celebrities were chosen to give a sort of good quality to the film. Another reason could be the effect they may have on the public: seeing Madonna in the film, and recognising her, made me happy in a certain way, I was…like proud, but I don’t know why.

    The actors were told to act until they were “blue in the face”, probably this is the reason of the title, even though I can’t match it with the theme of the film, or the “plot”.

    I’ve been to New York, but I didn’t visit Brooklin. I didn’t recognise the atmosphere I found in Manhattan, which was more free, more open to new people. Watching the film it seems that Brooklin is more close: there are people from all countries of the world, and from any social class, but they seem to live in their world. They know each other, and their life is bound to something, the tobacconist’s shop in this case. It seems they create a sort of circle, open only to people from Brooklin.

    Pietro Perin

  26. MicheleDB scrive:

    In my opinion we must overcome our past or at least to leave back bad things and to keep the other. However, as I saw many times in this blog, I’m nostalgic of my childhood. I would prefer an easier life, without any kind of problem and where the only important thing were to play. Our life was focused on game, day after day everyone matured a conscience and the consciousness of belonging to the human society.

    The film did not gain the success of the previous movie because of its fragmentally plot and for the choice of the music. The use of famous people can create interest and curiosity in the spectator even if the part they act is not very long.

    The cigars shop represents the missing part of a big city, New York that, by now, lose some values that are typical and necessary in every other city.

    Concerning the title, I cannot give a strong explanation but it is linked to the sentence said by Auggie when he is angry.

  27. MicheleDB scrive:

    correzione: lose -> has lost

  28. anonimo scrive:

    I don’t think I would have my childhood again. I hated it and I still hate it. My only expectation and hope is to go away and start a new life. People think about their childhood because they have a terrible life and they wish they were in the past, playing with simple games, living a life simple and happy. Others talk about their childhood because they love refresh their memories. Childhood for some people is like an utopian world, for others is a nightmare which has to be deleted.

    I already said that I didn’t like “Smoke”, so do I for “Blue in the Face”. I have no idea why critics didn’t approve this movie as the previous, maybe because the plot was less linear then in “Smoke” (where was all except for linear) or because the dialogue were quite unrealistic.

    So I have no idea why they use famous actors in the movies. It’s beautiful having someone famous in the film but if the movie works, I don’t catch the necessity of using them. Perhaps to demonstrate that also famous people are human being and not aliens. But I don’t see the connection.

    For what concern the title I can suppose that refers to Auggie: he is “blue in the face” because they want him to sell the shop which is the place where they meet. But this is only a thought.

    Elena Poles

  29. anonimo scrive:

    Arnoldi Martina

    i’m nostalgic of my chilhood when at Christmas my family,my relatives and i went to my grandparents and we ate my grandpa is very ill and my grandma is not very well..but at least i have a wonderful remembrance!every christmas i am with my relatives and with my family but is not the same as my childhood’s Christmas.

  30. anonimo scrive:

    In the past, relating with other people was very important I think. Now people are isolated and no interested very well in meeting places; perhaps we have no time to do this, but the difference is evidence. Our vision of relationships is very different from the past, sometimes more superficial because we think that we can survive without the interaction with other people,but we can’t. We can’t go on thinking that ignore the other is the solution. We are afraid of other people.

    “Blue in the face” is not an easy film to understand and is it very particular as a film because it is a docu-film; this is why people didn’t like it,I think. I like the film, so I have nothing negative to say.

    Famous actors are example of our lifestyle,of how the society is changed in positive and negative. Auster’s purpose in this film is to criticize the contemporary society,represented by celebrities.

    The title is perfect: every character in the film quarrel with one another and so the viewer perceive this anger during all the film.

    In this film New York semees a common city, not the big city we know, a city in which are living people from different countries.

    Giulia Canzi

  31. anonimo scrive:

    Luca Gasparin

    I feel nostalgic of my childhood, when I didn’t have all the problems I have now.

    With this sentence I do not want to say that I condemn my present, but I think that now I am growing and I have more responsibilities and more things to think about.

    I think that “Blue in the Face” is too static to be a film and while, for example, in “Smoke” there is a sort of story of all the characters, in this film there is not a principal story but is more like a documentary about the rule of Brooklyn in different people’s lives. For this reason I think that this movie did not meet the critic approval as “Smoke”.

    In my opinion Paul Auster and Wayne Wang chose famous actors or celebrities from other artistic fields as Madonna and Lou Reed, to catch people interest and attention and to emphasize the concept that I’m going to explain later.

    “I’m blue in the face” is said just one time in the film by Auggie’s girlfriend, when she was angry with him. For this reason I think that the title is appropriate to the film because although it was said just one time, but in a very important moment of the film.

    With this film we can see the real NY and not the utopian view of this city that others films give us. Another important aspect is the behaviour of people that appear in the film that is the same as people who are living in different cities, in fact in any city there is someone who want to escape from it and change his life; in the film there are the store’s owner’s wife and the black guy that want to make a change in their common and normal life.

  32. anonimo scrive:

    This is one of my defects, I feel nostalgic of everything: my previous school (marks :)), friends, I feel nostalgic of all my unusual experiences (St. Petersburg for example), even of my driving school! In general, I feel nostalgic of my past, especially of when I didin’t need to make important choices, when things were easier, life was easier..

    I will be honest.. My first reaction to the film was: “Well, better than Smoke!”.. but I feel “guilty” after reading what the critics and you think about it.. perhaps it is because it was easier for me to understand “Blue in the face”, the plot was easier and I laughed during the film, which is very important in my opinion! I think the critics reacted like that because there isn’t a real plot in this film, there is only a sequence of moments, not always linked one another; there are not many important themes and I think the role of the “stars” was just to make these “light” moments appear as “important”, to catch the attention, to raise the level of the film.

    With regard to the title, I remember a scene of the film when the woman who is in love with Auggie is angry, looks at herself in the mirror and says: “I am blue in the face!!”, I think the meaning of the dictionary corresponds perfectly.. Perhaps the choice of this title was taken from this scene.. I can’t think about any other possible meaning..

    I like the image of New York given in this film: I thought it was a chaotic city full of different kinds of people but I thought they weren’t interested in communicating.. Auggie’s cigar shop showed us the opposite: many people come and go out of the shop, tell their stories, argue, laugh, play the guitar :). Anyway the will of Auggie’s boss to sell the shop means a lot about what New York is becoming, fortunately he won’t be able to do that!

    –Maiutto Jessica–

  33. anonimo scrive:

    I feel nostalgic of the past , when all the things seem to be easy, when there were no problem that made us suffer.I fell nostalgic even of the period of the elementary school when i begin to meet the real friends that even today i frequent. In the end i feel nostalgic of the period when i stay with my grandfather.

    The film “Blue in the face” haven’t meet the critic approval as “Smoke” maybe because this film hasn’t got a real plot.There are lots of people that gives their ideas,their points of view.There are people of different culture and ideas that they meet each other in a cigaret shop,that is a point of reference.

    The fact that some characters are famous people involve people that like that person.For example if i like Madonna and i know that she plays a part in that film as an actress, i’m intresting in see how she acts and what part she acts.

    “Blue in the face” meens that we are angry,that we don’t see nothing because we are nervous and we don’t agree with some decisions and we suffer.We suffer inside and we can’t change the things so we are soffocated by the things that we want to say but that aren’t sufficient to change the real situation.

    Denise Martin

  34. anonimo scrive:


    This film is the metaphor of many human vices. Starting from the man that smokes his last cigarette, the movie takes every human fault and gives it in front of the spectator’s eyes. Brooklyn is the example of a borough with too much differences and regrets and it is the symbol of a society troubled by so many yearnings; but Brooklyn is also a “little New York” in which we can see serious social hardships. So Blue in the Face (that stands for a society exhausted and speechless, as a form of physical strain) is a title that gives exactly this meaning to the film.

    In spite of Smoke, this film did not meet the same critic approval maybe because Blue in the Face is a film less upright than Smoke. As a matter of fact in Smoke there is continuity that Blue in the Face does not have. Both the films however have famous actors or celebrities in their casts; I think that it is a way to surprise spectators.

    In the end I don’t feel nostalgic for something; I think that at my age I can only be happy for the life that was given to me.

  35. anonimo scrive:


    I feel nostalgic for the two years I spent in Belgium. There I made lots of friends, I had a great time with them, and sometimes I miss them.

    I know that you did not ask me if I liked this film, but I want to share my opinion.

    I found this film really boring.

    There is not a real and strong story as background. There are some characters that speak to each other, they share their opinion on Brooklyn, on cigarettes, on society.

    I do not know why they chose famous actors, I think it was a nonsense choice, above all the choice of having Madonna in this film. I find it very superficial.

    Blue in the Face can be referred to Auggie: he is angry because his manager plans to close down the shop; to Auggie’s girlfriend, because she is angry with Auggie; to the store’s owner’s wife.

    The only think I like about this film is Auggie. I love Harvey Keitel, the way he can represent his character and the way he give voice to the real soul of Brooklyn.

  36. anonimo scrive:

    i feel nostalgic of one part of my childhood, the years i spent in my old house. i had a stronger relationship with my grandparents but i remember with vivid nostalgia the school. we were only 9-10 students in each class, we were united and were i moved with my family, althought for 1 or 2 dozens kilometers, i lost all my friend.

    i personally appreciate blue in the face more than smoke. i think it is an experiment made to portrait the real life of a district of the busy and caotic NY. unlike the ordinary films, this shows the coexistence of people from all part of the world but it give ( at least in my opinion) a sensation that everyone who lives there feel a sense of being at home. even the people who say their opinion are so unusual and different ( black, white, yellow, old, young and so on ) that if they all say that they love there, well, i believe it. and a place like the tobacconist’s is extraordinary vbecause has the power to unite all the people and all the difference. perhaps it was too much experimentalist to have a good mark. perhaps they didn’t appreciate the original connotation of the movie.

    about the presence of famous character in the movie i agree to what we said in class. m. j. fox, madonna are icons of the american ( and international) low culture and so their presence, and their ridiculous parts, are made for a critic intent

    giacomin elena

  37. anonimo scrive:

    In this moment the only thing of what I feel nostalgia is my boyfriend, he makes me feel happy and a good person, when he recovers me of attention I don’t miss anything, i don’t need to feel nostalgia of my childhood because my present is nicer than the past now =). When I think of the last years the only thing that I remember vividely are moments when I felt like crying or shouting, because of some marks at school, or because lots of my best friends, cousins and relatives are far away from me and so I felt alone. He doesn’t make me miss them, that doesn’t mean that I don’t care any more about school or the lack of relatives near me, but everytime that I’m sad or I feel like crying, even if we are far away from each other, only listening to his voice makes me happy, and then he knows always how to make my mouth laughing again.

    I don’t like Blue in the face very much, maybe because of the lack of a plot, the scenes change confusionally and sometimes seems they don’t make any sense, perhaps that is why it didn’t meet the critic approval as Smoke; this one, I would say, is more interesting, maybe is only an opinion, but I prefer to see film with a plot or a semi-plot, where I’m able to connect the events. In both of the films there are famous actors and celebrities, maybe to create connection between the different artistic fields (I’m referring to Madonna and Lou Reed), celebrities have not a relevant role on these films, maybe to underline that everybody are the same, there are not person who are better than other.

    At the end of the film I’ve given to the title a possible meaning, after the film I felt a bit ”Blue in the face”, exhausted and speechless, because of the confusion and the unconnection between the scenes.

    There are in the film lots of moment when people talks about New York, exposing the pros and the cons, I would like to see it one day in my future, I’m curious!

    ..carla cipolla..

  38. anonimo scrive:

    Blue in the face is the sequel of smoke,in fact the setting is the same(the tobacco shop in Brooklyn)and even the main character is always Auggie Wren played by an actor that in my opinion perfectly embodies the essence of the movie and the city of Brooklyn.

    I think it didn’t meet the critic approval because it hasn’t got a real plot a real story to speak of,it is dotted with several sketches,disconnected vignettes not always linked together.,it may seem the result of the collection of notes Paul Auster jotted down during the creation of smoke,that make the film recycled,not so fresh.

    I personally liked the film,it was extremely funny,the actors were spontaneous the cues realistic and it shows the real soul of new york and its boroughs,it is not only characterised by business consumerism frenzy detouched relationship between people,in this beautiful city there is also a great sense of community,in the movie people coming from different places,of different ages meet in the tobacco shop,help each other in order to find their own identity,this is what makes NY unique.moreover I appreciated the numerous cameos such as the singing telegram messenger played by Madonna it was amusing even if behind there is a deep social criticism.

    I think it is the best film directed by Paul Auster it is really amazing!

    Montrasio Valentina

  39. anonimo scrive:

    I feel nostalgic of lots of moments for example moments of my childhood when the biggest problems was choose the best dress for my favourite doll, when play and have fun were key words!. In winter I feel nostalgic of summer, sea and friends! And now I already feel nostalgic of these Christmas holiday, of all wonderful moments spends with my family and above all with my friends in this holiday atmosphere that is going to end while school impends over!;-)…So I feel a “little bit” nostalgic of everything!! XD…but this feeling doesn’t condition my everyday life because I’m curious and enterprising and I love watching to the future more than the past!!

    In the film Blue in the Face there is a strong sense of nostalgia for all moments and meanings of the tobacconist’s shop which represent the centre of the entire city of Brooklyn where people meet each other, share opinions, mix cultures and knowledge and in all these differences they feel all friends! all citizens of Brooklyn! In my opinion the main character Auggie Wren embodies best this concept! I found this actor perfect for this role! His personality, his voice and his expressions represent the real Man of Brooklyn and he is also the one that carries on the tobacco’s shop and all the meanings that are linked with it!

    In my opinion, The film is funny and easy to see, even the fact that there is no plot but only a sequence of scenes gives to this film a new taste, different from the film that we normally see at the cinema or on tv!, it is an experimental film ,actors have no script and the result consists in a film that is a total improvisation!!!

    One thing remains unappreciated by me: the role of the two famous artists like Madonna and Lou Reed.. I didn’t like at all the scene interpreted by Madonna, I found it superficial and unnecessary, I know that there are strong social meaning behind this scene and the choice of the actress but I didn’t enjoy seeing it!!!

    -Martina Nadal-

  40. anonimo scrive:

    I feel nostalgic of the time I spent during my childhood in our villa in the country. It is a very big house, with a huge park behind it and with an orchard. I spent there a lot of time during my summer holidays, playing with my cousin and her dog. There, the days passed so quickly that I couldn’t even realize it.

    Perhaps ‘Blue in the Face’ didn’t meet the critic approval because it seems to be a continuation of ‘Smoke’, a ‘minor part’, like the ones you see once a film is over. They considered it less serious, not so deep as ‘Smoke’. Moreover, this film hasn’t got a thread, it is made of a series of skits that sometimes appear completely disconnected. I would say that this is a very curious film, the different vignettes, although disconnected, reflect perfectly Brooklyn’s multifaceted character: it is a city in which different races of people live and thus very different habits and customs coexist.

    I liked the fact that famous characters were chosen, it makes the film more intriguing.

    ‘Blue in the Face’ is a title that suits the film: it means exhausted and speechless; in fact the many different aspects of New York, its frenetic lifestyle and the moltitude of people makes you always feel in a rush, ‘blue in the face’…

    Jana Stefani

  41. anonimo scrive:

    I feel nostalgia of the beautiful moments of my life, not exactly a period, but events, weeks passed with friends, outings, entertainment.i take with me good memories of many occasions that stimulate me to collect new and beautiful experience. I am sure that despite all I will feel nostalgia high school once outside.

    Although the two films are set in the same place,they treat various topics, “Blue in the face” tells of shares ideals of a neighborhood of Brooklin,for them the cigar shop is a meeting place, where share their ideas . This film is not linear but crammed interventions, flashbacks, and parallel stories that makes it differ from the “Smoke”. I

    I really appreciated the film as it is funny but rich in events and dear to those people.

    I think that the authors have chosen famous people of the artistic world because they are closer to viewers, and better able to convey the reality of what they are saying instead. (Madonna was great).

    The title is about a phrase taken from the film, Auggie said it to his girlfriend that accused him to cheat on her, so he got upset.

    I was in New York, but the impression I had during those 3 days is quite different from what the players told . Only those who live there can feel the pulse of the people, the frustration of some and the joy of others. This film made me rethink everything that I have seen in a new light.

    Matteo Cervesato

  42. anonimo scrive:

    This film definitely stroke me, well, it is not a film that you’d call so, I mean, it is more like more films mashed up together, it is a sort of documentary of life in Brooklyn. The only leitmotiv you can find in the film is the cigar shop. It has a function of keeping the neighbourhood together, in fact it is the place where several “characters” of the society meet and relate. From the businessman, owner of the shop, to a black rapper, who tries to sell watches in the cigar shop while he talks of black people, from Auggie’s strange helper, who is a constant presence in the film, to Auggie’s Hispanic neurotic girlfriend. I liked also the spots, in which people of different nationality give data on Brooklyn. And obviously I enjoyed the extremely funny monologues of Lou Reed, where he mixes wise concepts with total nonsense, and the weird cameo of Madonna singing a telegram. These appearances probably make the watcher notice the difference between this kind of film, shot in six days with a limited budget with no special effects etc., and an Hollywood’s film. In the end I must say that I really enjoyed this movie, even if it took me a while to understand it. I think the negative response of the critic is caused by the psychological characteristic of the film, it is not a “ready-to-be-watched film” but you must interpret it and recollect and reconstruct the various moment in order to understand your own meaning of the film. Maybe the critic thought the audience wouldn’t have appreciated this aspect.

    Riccardo Bagattin

  43. PaulAuster2008 scrive:

    sorry for the delay, but i thought i had posted my reply to your considerations, whereas, just now i was checking our blog and i realised that some of my posts had not been added to the page. so here is the comment to your considerations (for the sake of brevity, I am not referring to each post!):

    I must confess that the more I read what you write the prouder I feel of most of you. I can see in some of you such headway that convinces me even more that the blog is a great means of expression and a great means of improving one’s writing skill. Why don’t you assess that yourself? Why don’t you go to your first post and compare it to your latest? You will soon realize yourself the progress you have made! Unfortunately this is not the case for all of you. Some do still need to work harder, very few still need to start working!!!

    Thanks for your nice comments, it seems we all feel nostalgic in different ways and about different things. There are some of us who look back in time and long for past values, emotions that seems lost now, there are others who do not want to live on past memories, but desire to live the present fully.

    Marco (n.3) points out an important element: it is easier, perhaps, to appreciate Paul Auster, if you have visited New York yourself. Most of his works are a tribute and an analysis of his own city (Brooklyn), which he describes beautifully and enigmatically at the same time.

  44. anonimo scrive:

    What is “Blue in the Face”? An experimental film, a documentary or a series of episodes that have nothing in common but Auggie Wren’s famous tobacconist?

    We can find the answer, as in the predecessor of this film, “Smoke” in the context in which the events develop. The slogan of the movie poster is: “Welcome to the Planet Brooklyn”. Our, so to say, spaceships are the two directors Paul Auster and Wayne Wang, who make us land on this multicoloured, multifaceted planet, and we can explore, for 80 minutes, the most varied life forms that inhabit this peculiar corner of the world. Once again, the American author gives the spectator the opportunity to become part, for a moment, of a place that is, perhaps, unique. Brooklyn, the district of New York, the protagonist of the first film “Smoke”, here is back: more ironic, multifaceted than ever. The district is always the same, like the persons who populate it. The fundamental difference between the two movies is the way of shooting them, very different in “Smoke” and in this sequel. In the first film, the story developed issues such as paternity, the randomness of life and the tragedy or lucky it may lead to; leaving, however, some moments that described the irony and the particular vitality of the shop and of Brooklyn. “Blue in the Face” is characterized by the fragmentation of events and by a stronger and more explicit irony, showing the most comic and serene aspects of Brooklyn’s life. This must not confuse: the film is not explicitly a comic film, it is an original comedy, who knows how to alternate absurdly cheerful and carefree moments and highly introspective moments that suggest a deep sense of nostalgia and sadness, looking at the past time. The Brooklyn of the past is what Auggie and his friends remember with great pleasure, because it is the Brooklyn of their youth. There is the memory of the times when Brooklyn was one of the most important places of American baseball, when the Brooklyn Dodgers team was a great protagonist on the sports grounds, strengthening the pride of Brooklyn’s inhabitants, because all the players were from Brooklyn. The images of a documentary on the old stadium in Brooklyn, now demolished, flow fast in black and white, as if they symbolize the elusive and far memory, of what was and will never return again. Nostalgia, that comes from everyday small things, that are full of meaning for each one of us (like the last cigarette, which becomes the occasion to remember the most important occasions when we smoked). And Paul Auster tells us a lot about his inner life and his personal experience in this; the nostalgia for the past is a human, almost physiological event: the writer is nostalgic of “his” Brooklyn, and he says it, hoping to be able to make the spectator understand that and, why not, share this feeling with him.

    But “Blue in the Face” is much more. It is a parade of stars, Brooklyn is populated for the first time by world renowned characters (Michael J. Fox, Madonna) that represent extravagant and sometimes absurd persons, emphasizing the incredible heterogeneousness of the district. Famous people who not only play someone but also give (Lou Reed) his vision of the place where they spent most of their lives, with irreverent and disarming humour. Next to music and movie stars there is the real “soul” of Brooklyn, ordinary people, those who know Brooklyn as it was a close relative and speak about it. And this is the intent of Auster in these two films, to show what is really Brooklyn, and to make the spectator appreciate and savour the essence of this place, its small manias, its people and its traditions, remembering with nostalgia his past experience. And, perhaps, for this reason Auster -and Brooklyn’s people too- is “Blue in the Face” (from the words of Auggie’s girlfriend, Violet): because of something that is gone, because of the mistakes of the past, because of the very essence of a past that remains only an image in black and white, with a stadium that inexorably falls down.

    Raggiotto Francesco

  45. PaulAuster2008 scrive:

    Francesco, you can really write good film reviews! Ever thought of dealing with this issue (fiction and film adaptation) for your project area? You’d certainly do a good job.