Paul Auster the novelist and Paul Auster the filmmaker are related but different men. The former is a New York Borges, specializing in metafictional funhouses built of urban intellectualism and wit. The latter, in Smoke and Blue in the Face, similarly deals with pet themes like chance and the art of illusion (and the illusion of art), but replaces the writer’s detachment with melodrama and mawkishness. Unlike its predecessors, Martin Frost, Auster’s first directorial effort since 1998’s poorly-received Luluon the Bridge, fails to hold those tonal deficiencies in check. Like Wings of Desire centered on a writer-inspired-by-his-muse country romance, this four-character chamber piece is next to impossible to take seriously, despite a typically good performance by David Thewlis as Frost. Can’t get past the plot about Martin’s love for an angel (Irene Jacob) who sacrifices herself for his novella? Then take pleasure in saccharine flashbacks, hokey dream sequences, and broad-side-of-the-barn caricatures. Have fun!