7.4/10
29,627
74 user 55 critic

Smoke (1995)

R | | Comedy, Drama | 9 June 1995 (USA)
A Brooklyn smoke shop is the center of neighborhood activity, and the stories of its customers.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writer:

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ON DISC
9 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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OTB Man #3, Dennis (as Steve Gevedon)
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Daniel Auster ...
Book Thief
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Rashid Cole (as Harold Perrineau Jr.)
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Sue the Waitress
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Aunt Em
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Vincenzo Amelia ...
Irate Customer
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Doreen Cole
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Storyline

The plot of this movie, like smoke itself, drifts and swirls ethereally. Characters and subplots are deftly woven into a tapestry of stories and pictures which only slowly emerges to our view. This film tries to convince us that reality doesn't matter so much as aesthetic satisfaction. In Auggie's New York smoke shop, day by day passes, seemingly unchanging until he teaches us to notice the little details of life. Paul Benjamin, a disheartened and broken writer, has a brush with death that is pivotal and sets up an unlikely series of events that afford him a novel glimpse into the life on the street which he saw, but did not truly perceive, every day. Finally, it's Auggie's turn to spin a tale.... Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Where there's smoke... there's laughter! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

9 June 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Smoke  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$8,349,430 (USA)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

(DuArt)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Harold Perrineau is only two years younger than Forest Whitaker who plays his father. See more »

Goofs

When Ruby (Stockard Channing) and Augie (Harvey Keitel) meet in the tobacco shop for the first time, Ruby's left eye can occasionally be seen underneath the black eye patch. The character is said to have lost her glass eye. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
OTB Man #1, Tommy: I'm gonna tell you why they aren't going anywhere.
OTB Man #3, Dennis: Why aren't they going anywhere?
OTB Man #1, Tommy: Management.
OTB Man #3, Dennis: Aw jeez.
OTB Man #1, Tommy: Those guys are walkin' around with the head up their asses.
OTB Man #3, Dennis: Right, yeah. Well ya know, they made some good trades too ya know. Carter and Manis. Without them two there never woulda been a World Series.
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Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Baby want kisses
Written and Performed by Annabouboula
Courtesy of Shanachie Entertainment Corp.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A beautiful depiction of humanity
21 October 2002 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

"It's such a sad old feeling, the fields are soft and green, it's memories that I'm stealing, but you're innocent when you dream, when you dream, you're innocent when you dream" ---Tom Waits

Smoke is a very difficult film to describe because it does not unfold with a coherent narrative, but rather with slice-of-life vignettes about chance, communication, and inter-connectedness. Author Paul Auster and director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) worked on the story for years before it reached the screen and the collaboration produces a highly literate, novelistic cinema that is divided into separate chapters, each elaborating a different character. I have seen this small masterpiece many times, but I keep watching it because I love its celebration of the simple pleasures of life: friendships, good conversation, and, of course, smoking a good cigar. Smoke is not a complex or experimental film, just a beautiful and simple delineation of humanity.

Harvey Keitel plays Auggie Wren, the owner of a small cigar store in Brooklyn. An amateur photographer as well as a raconteur of tall tales, Auggie has taken one photograph a day from the street corner outside his store every day for the past 14 years. "People say you have to travel to see the world,'' Auggie says. "Sometimes I think that if you just stay in one place and keep your eyes open, you're going to see just about all that you can handle.'' When a friend comments that all the snapshots look alike, Auggie points out the differences: the light, the season, and the look on people's faces. It's all a matter of slowing down, Auggie says, being in present time, and observing what is in front of you.

One of the store's regular customers is writer Paul Benjamin (William Hurt) who hasn't published a novel since his wife died a few years ago in an incident of street violence. When a young Black man, Rashid Cole, (Harold Perrineau Jr.) saves Paul's life by pulling him away from on an oncoming car, Paul offers him a place to sleep. The lives of the two become intertwined in the young man's encounter with some robbers and in his search for his father, brilliantly played by Forrest Whitaker. When Auggie's former lover, Ruby (Stockard Channing), shows up, she tells Auggie he has a pregnant daughter (Ashley Judd) that now needs his help. These incidents come together in a powerful, fully realized conclusion.

Although Smoke has its moments of high drama, it is mostly a low-key, slice-of-life type of film that depicts events in life as happening for a purpose, not as random or chance occurrences. The characters are not "movie colorful", but ordinary down-to-earth people brought to realization by a flawless ensemble cast. The film reaches a sublime conclusion in a tender Christmas story narrated by Keitel and supported by Tom Waits' haunting song "Innocent When You Dream". Everyone ends up in a better place than when they started, including myself as viewer.


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