Borrowed from Variety __________________________________________________ __________ Film Freaks Loom Large in 'Cinemania' Fri Jun 28, 5:27 AM ET By Ken Eisner SEATTLE (Variety) - This unsettling documentary is about the civilians who virtually surrender everything else in life to attend up to five films a day. The non-narrated "Cinemania" is an unsparing, if light-touched, look at obsession, denial and where to find the cheap seats in Manhattan. By its very nature, pic is bound to make theatergoers feels weird, so indie cablers and public broadcasters are the natural venue when fest popcorn runs out. Of the "cinemaniacs" trailed by German picmakers Angela Christlieb and Stephen Kijak, the most enigmatic and outwardly normal is Bill Angstreich. The youngest and most sociable of the group -- all on welfare or some form of disability -- he confesses to "a hopeless, Sisyphean life" in which no wedding, funeral, or doctor's appointment could take priority over a screening. Boyish, bespectacled Bill Heidbreder is much meeker and in even deeper denial. With his bookish looks and tweedy jackets, he should be a struggling graduate student but has settled for a sexless experience gorping at European art films and dreaming of moving to a mythical France, where pale intellectuals like him are highly respected. More unremarkable are old-timers Eric Chadbourne, an undiscriminating consumer of all things film-related (albeit with a specialty in cheesy B-movies), and burly, bearded Harvey Schwartz, who knows the running time of every movie ever made. Joining these refugees from a Harvey Pekar comic book is the sole woman of the group. Sixtysomething Roberta Hill, known as the Queen of the Cinemaniacs, has the longest history and an established knack for making enemies. Aside from her penchant for hoarding large quantities of well-printed brochures, her tendency to start fights has led to her being banned from several of the standard film-buff venues, including MoMA, where she tried to strangle a novice ticket-taker who was unaware that Hill saves all her stubs! Nicely cut pic, which shifts film and tape stocks for sake of variety, and draws on Kijak's earlier footage from a "Movie Madness" segment, could have used a bit more perspective. It would be nice to know if there are parallel nutjobs in Paris or L.A., for instance, or why these geeks never try to channel their knowledge into anything useful or remunerative. Finally, though, the unguided tour is enough. The soundtrack's French pop songs, all about cinephilia, add a dose of fun, as does the perfect finish, which finds the five protaganists in a small screening room, commenting snarkily on a rough cut of the pic we're watching. "I provided comic relief," offers Hill, trying to get the last word. "We're all comic relief," is Angstreich's apt answer. With: Jack Angstreich, Roberta Hill, Bill Heidbreder, Harvey Schwartz, Eric Chadbourne. __________________________________________________ __________ At least that's what I thought when I read it.