7.5/10
206
5 user 8 critic

Benjamin Smoke (2000)

This highly unorthodox documentary follows the crooked path of Benjamin (no last name). He lives in a hidden neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia called "Cabbagetown." Drag-queen, speed-freak, ... See full summary »

Directors:

Jem Cohen, Peter Sillen
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Benjamin Dickerson Benjamin Dickerson ... Himself (as Benjamin)
Tim Campion Tim Campion ... Smoke Perkussion
Brian Halloran Brian Halloran ... Smoke Cello
Coleman Lewis Coleman Lewis ... Smoke Guitar
Bill Taft Bill Taft ... Smoke Trumpet / Banjo
Patti Smith ... Herself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Deacon Lunchbox Deacon Lunchbox ... Himself (archive footage)
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Storyline

This highly unorthodox documentary follows the crooked path of Benjamin (no last name). He lives in a hidden neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia called "Cabbagetown." Drag-queen, speed-freak, all-around renegade, Benjamin left the straight (in every sense of the word) world behind a long time ago.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

What is the sound of the queer southern blues?

Genres:

Documentary

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 June 2000 (USA) See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,183, 23 July 2000, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$36,807, 7 January 2001
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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User Reviews

 
Absorbing portrait of a man who should have been famous
3 December 2000 | by Erich-13See all my reviews

I was lucky enough to see Benjamin sing in concert once (playing Caiaphas in a production of "Jesus Christ Superstar"), and was struck by his craggy, Tom Waits-like vocal delivery, as well as his cadaverous but flamboyant stage persona. Now, thanks to the documentary "Benjamin Smoke," I've got a more fully rounded picture of this enigmatic performer. Virtually unknown outside his hometown (although his music did inspire Patti Smith to write a song about him), Benjamin deserved to be a bigger star. Hopefully, this film will introduce more people across the country (and even around the world) to both the man and his music.

The filmmakers spent several months (years?) just hanging out with Benjamin. They let him talk about whatever he wanted, and he held nothing back, freely discussing his numerous addictions, his HIV-positive status, his mother's reaction to his homosexuality...and he tells all these stories with an easy-going charm and wit.

While I hope people from all over the world will seek out and watch this movie, I do feel a twinge of pity for viewers outside Atlanta. They'll never experience the heady feeling of connectedness that I got from attending the premiere at the Lefont Plaza theater...located directly across the street from the apartment building where Benjamin lived out his last months, next door to the diner where the filmmakers recorded a conversation with the band, and just down the street from the club where Benjamin played his final concert. After leaving the theater, I made a point of visiting all of these sites and soaking up the atmosphere of Benjamin history.


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