The plot of this movie, like smoke, 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 movie tries to convince us that reality doesn't matter so much as aesthetic satisfaction. In Auggie Wren's (Harvey Keitel's) New York City smoke shop, day by day passes, seemingly unchanging until he teaches us to notice the little details of life. Paul Benjamin (William Hurt), 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>
Most of the telling of Auggie's Christmas story, from when he goes to the projects to the end of the story, is one unbroken five-minute shot. See more »
Auggie takes his daily picture from a typical tripod, below shoulder level. Yet the photos in his album are taken from eye-level position or higher. In fact, the alignment of the traffic signal and the building behind it is so consistent from picture to picture, that they were most likely taken from a fixed mount. See more »
Though the writing is very "stagey", the acting is fantastic all around. The more you allow yourself to get into this movie, the more you will enjoy it. The soundtrack insidiously lulls the viewer into a state where the everyday is made beautiful.
This movie is full of overlooked performances by some of today's best actors, including Forest Whitaker, Harold Perrineau Jr, (who most people know from the OZ HBO series), and Ashley Judd, whose takes one of the smallest roles in the movie but develops an extraordinary character.
Harvey Keitel and William Hurt have a dynamic in each scene that shows the true brilliance of each actor. Stockard Channing plays a character that could easily have been overacted with a style and realism that engage the viewer.
Certainly a movie you have to put yourself into, but you won't be disappointed if you do.
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