7.4/10
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77 user 56 critic

Smoke (1995)

R | | Comedy, Drama | 9 June 1995 (USA)
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2:13 | Trailer

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A Brooklyn smoke shop is the center of neighborhood activity, and the stories of its customers.

Directors:

Wayne Wang, Paul Auster (uncredited)

Writer:

Paul Auster
10 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Giancarlo Esposito ... OTB Man #1, Tommy
José Zúñiga ... OTB Man #2, Jerry
Stephen Gevedon ... OTB Man #3, Dennis (as Steve Gevedon)
Harvey Keitel ... Auggie Wren
Jared Harris ... Jimmy Rose
William Hurt ... Paul Benjamin
Daniel Auster Daniel Auster ... Book Thief
Harold Perrineau ... Rashid Cole (as Harold Perrineau Jr.)
Deirdre O'Connell ... Sue the Waitress
Victor Argo ... Vinnie
Michelle Hurst ... Aunt Em
Forest Whitaker ... Cyrus Cole
Stockard Channing ... Ruby McNutt
Vincenzo Amelia Vincenzo Amelia ... Irate Customer
Erica Gimpel ... 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:

Five strangers. Four secrets. Three schemes. Two best friends. And one neighborhood hangout where the world still makes sense. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Miramax | Official site | See more »

Country:

Germany | Japan | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 June 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Smoke See more »

Filming Locations:

Phillipstown, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$8,349,430
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color (DuArt)| Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Paul Benjamin" is a reference to writer Paul Auster, whose middle name is Benjamin: Paul Benjamin Auster. 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.
See more »

Connections

Followed by Blue in the Face (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Brooklyn Boogie
Written by Louis Prima and Earl Bostic
Performed by Louis Prima
Courtesy of MCA Records
Licensed by Larry Spier, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The beauty of the commonplace, if we can see it
18 May 2002 | by csm23See all my reviews

Every once in a while, a film comes down the pike that is so refreshing, so rich, you'd swear it was inspired by some immortal spirit who condescended to take human form in order to share her perspective with us. Smoke is one such film.

Although there's nothing particularly special about each of several main characters, seemingly picked at random off of a New York street corner, they come off as noble, even heroic, in spite of the fact that their collective problems amount to nothing more than the usual garden variety. The main character, for example (Auggie Wren, played by Harvey Keitel) is a tobacconist around whose shop the main characters revolve. He has an unusual habit: every morning, at the same time of the day, he photographs the same street corner, and puts the pictures together in a series of albums. It's time-lapse photography on an enormous scale. He can't explain why he does it. He just needs to do it. And it's a really marvelous device for delivering the movie's main theme: everything that matters, all the meaning in the world that can be condensed from holy books and vows and catechisms and poems, is right there before us. We just need to have the eyes to see it. The things we tend to dismiss as prosaic, out of familiarity, emerge from the pages of his album as special, wonderful, enchanted.

There's a great line in the movie about how Sir Walter Raleigh measured the weight of smoke. He took a cigar, weighed it, smoked it, and weighed the ash. The difference between the cigar and the ash was the weight of the smoke. Although he new nothing of the chemistry of combustion, he did the best that he could, based upon what he knew. Likewise, Smoke is a movie about people with limited knowledge and perspective. Their assumptions are often wrong; but, they do the best that they can. A small, seemingly insignificant piece of information can, and does, change everything.


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