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Cinemania
Loop FilmWorks
Official Site
Directors: Angela Christlieb, Stephen Kijak
Producer: Gunter Hanfgarn
Featuring: Jack Angstreich, Bill Heidbreder, Eric Chadbourne, Harvey Schwartz, Roberta Hill

Rating: out of 5


Cinemania is probably the scariest film I’ve seen in ages, although I probably wouldn’t have been so unnerved had I not seen three movies a day every day for the previous four days. This is contrary to my usual viewing habits. Three to four movies a week is my norm, which is more than your average American but, I think, a reasonable and not debilitating amount. And there’s more to it than just blank viewing. I watch, think, and write about what I see (to you, my ever-loving readers’ benefit... right?). If I sound defensive, it’s because I’m afraid you might confuse me with the subjects of this documentary. Cinemania scours the dregs of the New York film scene to show my antitheses, five devoted freaks who regularly watch three to five movies a day, every day, subsisting either on an inheritance or disability payments. Their disability? The “neurosis,” as one of them turns it, which is a compulsive need to see film. After watching the film, you’d probably agree with that psychiatric evaluation. They live in filthy, cramped apartments, and have no qualms about their anti-social ways. Says one, “Film is a substitute for life. It is not pathological—to not have had sex for many years, but to have seen all these experiences instead.”

What’s truly unnerving, then, is that that’s all they have: experiences. Thoughts? Critical evaluations? Nothing of the sort. They exchange two-sentence judgments on obscure 40s starlets. Their memories are nostalgic, not acute or critically pointed, and they bring nothing to the movies they see other than other movies. The fundamental error one of them makes is in assuming that “these films are being made for us.” Dead wrong: Films (especially those of Godard, whom one of them confesses to trying to emulate, unsuccessfully, in a Paris cafe) are made for active, vital humans with a variety of interests and messy lives, not sterile overweight losers. “Film buffs do not socialize”? Shut the hell up and stop ruining my reputation. Cinemania is basically a comedy, which a German TV team has edited down to all its funniest bits, and it’s wildly amusing (it also features a bouncy and apt score by Stereo Total), but anybody who loves film may find themselves unnerved and praying that they bear absolutely no resemblance to anyone on-screen.

—Vadim Rizov

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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