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Cinemania - documentary DVD review
Cinemania Not Rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 stars
Actors: Jack Angstreich, Eric Chadbourne, Bill Heidbreder, Roberta Hill, Harvey Schwartz
Director: Angela Christlieb & Stephen Kijak   Studio: Winstar
DVD release: 04 Nov. 2003   Runtime: 80 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Color, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD features: Audio tracks (English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Deleted scenes

Directed by the team of Angela Christlieb and Stephen Kijak, Cinemania is a quirky documentary that follows filmaholics (Cinephile, as one them puts it) as they trek through New York City trying to see as many films as they can. The characters are extremely dedicated to their love of film (they revile video), which is a funny thing as the documentary is shot with video. There is no need to go into depth with the characters - Roberta, Bill, Eric, and Jack - as there is no purpose to the film other than to show their silly foibles. They live like pack rats with books stacked to their ceilings, memorabilia shoved in odd spaces, and piles of movie guides atop desks. The filmmakers go the easy route and gloss over these people in a rather predictably dull effort.

That isn't to say it's all bad (or all good, for that matter). Extremely serious film buffs will no doubt recognize themselves in some of these people; as odd as they might seem, they are passionate. But when is it overkill? A compulsion is a compulsion, but is the addiction to film comparable to sex, drugs, or food? For these people it is. The fact that this has become an all-consuming passion, to the point that one of these cinephiles alters his diet so that he doesn't have to go to the bathroom while watching or traveling to one of his movies, borders on the absurd. The shame of it all is that there is a genuine film appreciation scene that could have been delved into, but the directors chose to collect the idiosyncrasies of extreme movie lovers and put it on film.
If you can make a connection to someone in this film and find entertainment in it, then more power to you. But I'm not so sure whether this is supposed to be a genuine look at cinemaniacs or just poking fun at them. The first forty minutes or so are entertaining, but the treks through the city become monotonous. After the midway point, the film shifts from quirky documentary fun to a bit more disturbing as we see how these people live. It is no surprise that almost all of them are on disability (minus one who inherited a large sum of money), don't have significant others, or do anything else but see films. There are no answers as to why they are this way. Nor do we come to a poignant end where anyone of them manages their obsessive compulsion to watch film on the way to leading a more balanced life. The DVD comes with deleted scenes, trailer, and web links. Overall, Cinemania is a marginally entertaining look into the obsessed lives of film lovers. In a similar nature to the documentaries Word Wars or Trekkies.
reviewed by Bobby Blades
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