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|Index||74 reviews in total|
In 'Smoke' writer Paul Auster and director Wayne Wang create a slice of life. The film is divided in chapters, each focussing on a different character. It isn't done randomly as all the down to earth characters are part of the story. 'Smoke' has a whimsical touch to it. It looks like a simplistic painting or a photograph that tells the story of one's daily life and their certain unique circumstances. The movie looks authentic. It does not have the typical Hollywood glossy feel to it. It's more like a walk down the lives of these simple yet wonderful characters. Harvey Keitel is terrific as the cigar store owner and amateur photographer. William Hurt is equally remarkable as a writer who hasn't published a novel since the demise of his wife. Harold Perrineau Jr. holds his own as the young Rashid Cole who forms a friendship with Hurt's Paul Benjamin and Keitel's Augie Wren. Forest Whitaker is excellent as Cole's hardworking father with one arm and Stockard Channing is great as Augie's former lover. The cinematography is simplistic and yet it works brilliantly and the soundtrack itself is another huge plus as it gives voice to the mood of the scene. The visuals of the city only add to the charm. Overall 'Smoke' is a charming slice of life and by the end it ends up bringing a smile to the viewer's face. We don't see the characters living happily ever after but we notice their growth and becoming better human beings.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I agree with all of the reviewers who have praised the work of Harvey
Keitel, William Hurt and others in this film.
However, I believe special mention is deserved for the actress who plays the part of an elderly woman in the Christmas story at the end of the film. Without revealing any of the plot, the subtle yet dramatic change in her facial expression, without uttering a single word, blew me away.
I hope others agree.
Years after seeing this film, the haunting song, Innocent in your Dreams, still comes back to me
The casting for this movie was terrible but would have been fine for a stage production. If viewed that way it's very enjoyable but a no-name cast could have made it fly. Shame on the producers for thinking it needed help. Hurt intermittently affects an inner city accent which is somewhere between south Boston and south Bronx putting it squarely in the Atlantic Ocean. Channing is not slutty enough, probably because she doesn't try to be. Keitel coasts through his role but is never really the guide his character might be. All of the characters come across as more sophisticated than what credibility demands. It is their individual stories and their interaction which should elevate them but the director has taken that step away from us - and it shouldn't have been. I still gave it a 7 because it is a good story.
Great script, amazing performances. Beautiful and poignant moments.
Cliché's aren't bad cus they are un-true, they are bad because they are
over-beaten paths to the truth. Love IS blind, but everyone's heard
that so much it's lost it's meaning.
Like Harvey Kietal's character who takes photographs of the same block every mourning, as part of his life's work, this film is familiar, but each moment is different and full of it's own little details.
It's a very dialog driven film, lots of stories, anecdotes, and minutia throughout, everyone sounds natural and all of the actors are at the top of their game.
It's easy to overlook, the little details, here which make this film much more than typical New York dramedy, but they are there, author and screen-writer Paul Auster, has an eye for detail, and for taking the stuff of melodrama and rendering it familiar yet different. If you don't catch it the first time, "slow down", and try again. What is the weight of smoke?
I saw this movie in the Star Movies channel only in Jan 2008, a good 13 years after it was made. It is a perfect work of art - something you will never forget - and its memory will always gladden your heart. Ordinary people, ordinary lives - just like the most of us... its a piece of our life- and it will be taken at the flood along with us... William Hurt, despite his Oscar, has always been an underrated actor. And Harvey Keitel, Forrest Whitaker. Whats great about Hollywood is its wealth of actors all through the last century till date - one cannot help loving them all. I would rate SMOKE high among the 25 best Hollywood movies I have ever seen.
To heap praises on Smoke would be a great disservice to its talented directors Wayne Wang,Francophile poet Paul Auster and its eclectic cast of actors of international prominence like Harvey Keitel, Forest Whitaker and William Hurt.This is because it is more than a great film. We know that a great film can neither be defined nor described. A great film like Smoke has to be felt on an individual basis.It cannot be done by those who are near and dear to a viewer.Smoke is a film in which purest of human emotions overflow in every scene. Each gesture made by these great actors is worth millions of pure joys visible only by naked eyes in our daily existence.As a visual document of pristine beauty, Smoke is a beautiful commentary about the greatness of human existence. Its message is loud and clear ; one should smoke joys of human existence as they are undoubtedly more therapeutic then cigarette smoke which is effective only as a good remedy against cold weather.A comment must be made about one of the greatest actors of all times : Harvey Keitel.His portrayal of Augie is likely to bring laughter on your face and tears in your eyes.There are not so many actors who can achieve such a mesmerizing effect.
Auggie Wren (Harvey Keitel) owns a Brooklyn smoke shop where regulars
hang out. He takes a photograph of his shop from the streets everyday
at the same time. Paul Benjamin (William Hurt) is surprised to see his
dead wife Ellen in one of the photos. She was pregnant when she was
killed. Rashid (Harold Perrineau) saves Paul from on-coming traffic. In
return, Paul lets Rashid stay with him and starts mentoring the young
man. Rashid reconnects with his father Cyrus Cole (Forest Whitaker),
who lost his arm and love in a car accident, without revealing their
true relationship. Auggie's one-eyed ex Ruby McNutt (Stockard Channing)
asks him for help with their pregnant daughter Felicity (Ashley Judd).
Paul is assigned by the NY Times to write a Christmas story and Auggie
gives him one.
I love the idea of Auggie's photographs. There is something compelling and poetic about it. These characters are interesting. Some of the stories are more compelling than others. The cast led by Hurt and Keitel are doing solid work. These lives each have their own stories but I'm not sure that every plot finishes. It's like Auggie's photographs. Every one is unique and has a story to tell but it is the congregate where the true beauty is revealed.
A Brooklyn smoke shop is the center of neighborhood activity, and the
stories of its customers.
The film starts out like "Clerks" with its setting in a smoke shop, then gets a bit more like "Pulp Fiction" by focusing on different overlapping characters. This is slightly enhanced because Harvey Keitel happens to be in the film. And, of course, it is a Miramax film. Whether they put their style on a film or buy up pictures with that style, I do not know, but there was a definite mid-1990s Miramax look.
This is pretty satisfying overall, and a great role for William Hurt, who is a fine actor and often overlooked or forgotten. Harold Perrineau is great, too, and it is a real treat to see him before "Lost", the first time I was really aware of him (with all due respect to his parts in "King of New York" and "Romeo + Juliet").
From the Miramax logo that opens it, Smoke is very much of a piece with
90s faux-indy films in the vein of Pulp Fiction or Clerks. It shares a
lot of traits with this wave of films: great actors, somewhat affected
dialogue, a shaky portrayal of race and a distinct sense of machismo
(although not nearly as nauseating as, say, Swingers). Where Smoke
differs is in rejecting the violent nihilism that often haunted this
decade. Instead, this is a story about communities forming and the
minor miracle that is everyday survival.
Smoke is ostensibly centred around an ordinary corner smoke shop in New York City. We follow the shop, and the people around it, over the course of a year. There's a really laudable desire here to tell the story of a social environment rather than an individualist narrative. This is a goal that the film never quite fulfills, meandering into some fairly standard family drama with a refreshing lack of narrative closure. Even when the scenario would suggest melodrama, the overall focus of the film is not on what happens to our protagonists but the bonds that form between them.
The performances are as great as you would expect from reading the cast list, although Stockard Channing's character is too underwritten for her to really shine. The script is by novelist Paul Auster, eschewing most of his postmodern experimentation for street-level human drama. (There is still a novelist named Paul with a dead wife, so I guess some things never change). Auster's dialogue is usually authentic-sounding, save for the tendency to drift into stagey monologues that never really justify themselves.
As a film, Smoke is something of a failure -- it's unable to create the sense of place it aims for without relying on hoary story lines and drama. But there's also a lot to like about the film, from the brilliant cast to the relaxed pace. It's not all it could be, but it still deserves a look.
This rambling drama looks at the intertwined stories of a group of New Yorkers, centered around a cigar shop. While it has its moments, the script is ridiculously contrived, a lackluster mixture of forced sentimentality and pretentious dialog. It is billed as a comedy, but there are no laughs to be had here. The relationships among the characters are not at all believable. There are also subplots, such as the one involving Keitel's ex-wife (Channing in a thankless role) and daughter (Judd in an early role), that are pointless. The acting is uneven, ranging from good (Keitel) to bad (Whitaker) to awful (some of the actors in small roles). Keitel is particularly good in relating a Christmas story.
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