"Cigarette Girl" is a hot low-budget mess, but fun.

The sort of movie a young Russ Meyer would be making if he had digital cameras and were addicted to graphic novels, noir pastiche “Cigarette Girl” is a hot low-budget mess, but fun. As a serious dystopian vision of a future in which smokers are literally ghettoized, this latest from prolific underground filmmaker Michael McCarthy reps a disaster, but as a tongue-firmly-in-cheek homage to pics with busty femme fatales and corny hardboiled dialogue, it just about works, although it’s not clear which effect McCarthy intends. Pic could smoke out slots at edgier fests.

It’s the year 2035, and whole chunks of every major American town designated smoking sections are the only places you can light up. In one unnamed burg, Cigarette Girl (charismatic Bettie Page lookalike Cori Dials) sells cancer sticks at a nightclub, but also shills black-market product elsewhere, angering her boss (J. Lazarus Hawk). When her granny (Helen Bowman) starts dying of emphysema, Cigarette Girl quits smoking, but getting out of the biz ain’t so easy. Thesping goes frequently over the top, and tech credits offer a weird blend of invention and amateurishness, but the pic never bores.

Cigarette Girl

Production

A Guerrilla Monster Films production. (International sales: Breakaway Media, Los Angeles.) Produced by Michael McCarthy. Executive producers, Jay Carl, Les Edwards, Brett Magdovitz. Co-producers, Emmy Collins, Lee Gordon, Adam Hohenberg. Directed, written by Michael McCarthy.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Wheat; editor, Wheat; music, Jonathan Kirkscey; art director, Brian Dixon, set decorator, Sam Bahre; costume designer, Sona. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (market), Feb. 14, 2010. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

With: Cori Dials, Helen Bowman, J. Lazarus Hawk, James Buchanan; Lary Love Dolley, Ivy Mclemore, Danny Vinson.
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