Benjamin Smoke | Chicago Reader

Benjamin Smoke

72 minutes 2000

Jem Cohen and Peter Sillen's 2000 documentary pays tribute to Robert Dickerson—better known as vocalist Benjamin Smoke of the offbeat Atlanta band Smoke—who died of AIDS shortly after the film was shot. It captures his unaffected honesty and charm and his poetic way with words, but what's really fine is the filmmakers' sensitivity in blending all kinds of disparate material. Patti Smith, Dickerson's first inspiration, let Smoke open for her in Atlanta, which provides the film with a satisfying climax, yet the talking/singing/playing/goofing-off heads that precede this apotheosis are just as watchable (and listenable).

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