Cinemania (2002) / Documentary
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for language
Running Time: 83 min.
Cast: Jack Angstreich, Eric Chadbourne, Bill Heidbredder, Roberta Hill, Harvey Schwartz
Director: Angela Christlieb, Stephen Kijak
Review published November 8, 2003
Cinemania is a cathartic experience for a film buff like myself. I often look at the amount of films I watch (usually between five or six a week) and think to myself, this is quite a lot for one person to be watching. Well, that's nothing compared to the subjects of this documentary, who regularly watch 5-6 movies every day! And very unlike me, these people actually watch every film in a theater. Yes, that's right. They travel all over New York City, going from film festival to film museums, watching and re-watching movies from sun up to sun down, every single day.
Cinemania is a German produced documentary, following a handful of these people around on their daily routine. Some of them are on disability, unemployment, or probably living off the public dole, filling up their available time with nothing but movies. Although the film only explores the surface as to why these folks do what they do, it is still a fascinating to listen to these people, as most of what they do defy our comprehension. One man is obsessed with soundtracks, owning thousands of albums, but has no stereo to listen to them on. He also can tell you the running time of almost any movie he has seen, using a stopwatch to time them at every screening, and quibbling with the theater if it is off in the slightest. Another woman is on the verge of eviction from her apartment, which is filled to the ceiling with programs and promotional merchandise she has picked up over the years. She also attacked a woman for tearing her ticket stub, obviously not knowing that she has collected every stub for every screening she has attended since a child.
There are many other examples of "cinephilia" to be found here, and although the habits of these five people sometimes border on pathetic, Cinemania does not judge them for their compulsive natures. Rather, it takes a light-hearted approach to a rather benign way to spend one's life, because if it were not for the movies, many of them would probably burn out doing something else, or end up living on the street. Some of the humor comes in the way they each point to each other as being completely over the deep end, as if they have it under control themselves.
If you're obsessed with movies, or know someone that is, Cinemania is definitely worth a viewing. In case you're wondering, yes, even the five cinemaniacs have watched their own movie, which the last few minutes showcases, and it's reaffirming that even they see the folly of their existence, although it's ironic that they only can do this when viewing themselves from the familiar comforts an aisle seat.
©2003 Vince Leo