Smoke Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 4, 2013
Paul Benjamin: if you're gonna die, what's more important, a good smoke or a good book. So he smoked his book.

"Where there's smoke... there's laughter!"

Smoke is a very good movie and wasn't quite what I was expecting. I'm not too familiar with Wayne Wang's work, only having seen Anywhere But Here before, but I was thoroughly impressed with this film. What we have here is basically an unstructured story, which was extremely popular in the nineties, centered around a cigar store in Brooklyn. The story follows a variety of characters from the cigar store owner, one of his customers, a young kid, an unknown father, and a woman from the past. It all melts together really well. This isn't a film for anyone. It's a conversational movie that has a lot of long monologues and storytelling, but for fans of these type of movies, it's heaven. I can't really think of better actors for the movie either. The main two, Harvey Keitel and William Hurt give terrific performances as always. 

Smoke is a movie for the person who likes quiet movies that stay away from action and bullshit, that remain real and are just telling the story of human beings. That's what this is to me and that's why I like this movie, and movies like it so much. There's nothing flashy about the characters, there's no big twists, no action to speak of; it's just real life. Smoke blends comedy and drama together really well as well. It's too bad that this isn't a more well known film, but in the end it doesn't really matter. A great film is a great film.
Super Reviewer
November 22, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]"Smoke" takes place in 1990 in the mythical land of Brooklyn where Auggie(Harvey Keitel) is the proprietor of a neighborhood cigar store. One of his regular customers is Paul(William Hurt), a once famed novelist who has not been able to write anything since his pregnant wife was killed at a bank robbery some years before. Paul almost absentmindedly walks in front of a truck but is saved by Rashid(Harold Perrineau, Jr), a 16 year old in need of a place to crash.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Crash" is overall not a bad movie but by using a disjointed story structure misses out on any grand commentary on the main theme of the brotherhood of man . Most of it feels improvised but with a cast like this, you cannot go far wrong. Stockard Channing is one of the few actors who retain their dignity while wearing an eye patch. I would have liked to have seen more of Forest Whitaker, though.[/font]
Super Reviewer
October 11, 2012
There is a scene where Harvey Keitel does a monologue that goes on for what seems like ten minutes. The camera is still and all we are doing is watch a man talk. Nonetheless, it is brilliant..and that is only one part of this film.
Super Reviewer
March 14, 2010
Literary film about a group of people, centred around a New York tobacconist and scripted by Paul Auster. You can tell an author wrote the script as there's lots of monologues and both Harvey Keitel and William Hurt get to tell stories during the film. All very erudite.
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2011
Reminiscent of some of Jim Jarmusch's work, "Smoke" is an incredibly touching motion picture that focuses on the lives of several different people. However, it does not connect them through action or circumstance like "Crash" or "Magnolia", but rather meanders between each of its characters and allows them just to... "talk". Simple as that. As a whole, the "talking" doesn't add up to much of anything, but individually, it speaks volumes. Not only is "Smoke" a magnificent character study, but a genuinely heartwarming movie. It leaves you delighted and deep in thought, reflecting upon past life experiences. When a film has the power to make you do that, you know it's good.
Super Reviewer
April 8, 2008
Awesome ensemble film with amazing performances and an intriguing story. Keitel's speech at the end is fantastic.
½ January 13, 2013
I can't stand this movie at all. Completely uneventful and boring. William Hurt acts like a paint can in this snoozer.
May 18, 2010
AUGGIE: And how's the working these days, maestro?

PAUL: (Still grinning. Absentmindedly)


(Pause. Pulling himself together)

Or it was until a couple of days ago. A guy from The New York Times called and asked me to write a Christmas story. They want to publish it on Christmas Day.

AUGGIE: That's a feather in your cap, man. The paper of record.

PAUL: Yeah, great. The problem is, I have four days to come up with something, and I don't have a single idea.

You know anything about Christmas stories?

AUGGIE: (Blustering)

Christmas stories? Sure, I know a ton of 'em.

PAUL: Anything good?

AUGGIE: Good? Of course. Are you kidding?


I'll tell you what. Buy me lunch, my friend, and I'll tell you the best Christmas story you
ever heard. How's that? And I guarantee every word of it is true.

PAUL: (Smiling)

It doesn't have to be true. It just has to be good.

AUGGIE: (Turning to JIMMY ROSE) Take over the register while I'm gone, okay, Jimmy?

(Begins to extricate himself from behind the counter)

So begins one of the best stories you will ever hear in the movies, so you have to see this movie. Then at the end . . .

AUGGIE: And now you've got your Christmas story, don't

PAUL: (Pause. Thinks)
Yes, I suppose I do.

PAUL looks at AUGGIE. A wicked grin is spreading across AUGGIE'S face.
The look in his eyes is so mysterious, so fraught with the glow of some inner delight, that PAUL begins to suspect that AUGGIE has made the whole thing up. He is about to ask AUGGIE if he has been putting him on
-- but then stops, realizing that AUGGIE would never tell him.

PAUL smiles.

PAUL (cont'd)

Bullshit is a real talent, Auggie. To make up a good story, a person has to know how to push all the right buttons.

I'd say you're up there among the masters.

AUGGIE: What do you mean?

PAUL: I mean, it's a good story.

AUGGIE: Shit. If you can't share your secrets with your
friends, what kind of friend are you?

PAUL: Exactly. Life just wouldn't be worth living,
would it?

AUGGIE is still smiling. PAUL smiles back at him. AUGGIE lights a cigarette; PAUL lights a little cigar. They blow smoke into the air,
still smiling at each other.
½ August 11, 2008
Paul Auster's well-crafted screenplay centers around a Brooklyn cigar shop, in which its owner, Auggie Wren, encounters just about every colorful character under the sun: the washed up writer, Paul Benjamin, a young teen who may or may not make it to his seventeenth birthday, Rasheed, and Ruby McNutt, Auggie's old flame who has quite a secret to share. The highlights of the film include wonderful performances from a stellar, near perfect ensemble cast: Harvey Keitel, William Hurt, Stockard Channing, Harold Perrineau, and Forest Whitaker. How could you go wrong? Well, you can't when you've got Auster's witty script and Wayne Wang's subtle direction. The movie is undoubtedly funny, but it has moments of true humanity in its finest form. You simply want to know these people. They may be dysfunctional, but aren't we all just a little bit screwed up? Another great moment from the film (without giving too much away) is Auggie's Christmas story... perhaps the best ever told and with Tom Waits "Innocent When You Dream" playing underneath, no less.
½ July 30, 2008
Great script, amazing performances. Beautiful and poignant moments. Cliche's arent bad cus they are un-true, they are bad because they are overbeaten paths to the truth. Love IS blind, but everyone's heard that so much it's lost it's meaning.

Lik...(read more) e Harvey Kietal's character who takes photographs of the same block every mourning, as part of his lifes work, this film is familair, but each moment is different and full of it's own little details.

It's a very dialogue driven film, lots of stories, anecdotes, and minituia 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.
July 15, 2008
A few very good stories with interesting characters, and Forest Whitaker and Harvey Heitel are 2 of the best.
½ November 26, 2007
This was an interesting little film that explores different lives linked by a Tobacco shop. Very good....BLUE IN THE FACE is the kind of sort of sequel to this, but is more comedic and improved.
½ November 18, 2007
Lumped in with the Comedies section on cable ON DEMAND. Didn't see much humor in it although it was a good study of characters. More about the tragic side of life in a microcosm.
June 6, 2015
I wanted to visit this corner of Brooklyn after seeing the movie.
April 19, 2015
poignant art-house movie about melancholic characters with uplifting stories who like nothing better than telling a story and having a smoke. A surprising performance by Harvey Keitel in an unfamiliar role for him, also strong performances by Hurt and the rest of the cast. A film worth seeing for anyone who likes to hear a good story.
½ April 7, 2013
The cover they chose to advertise this film is very misleading. 4 white people. Ashley Judd and Stockard Channing were in the movie probably for a combined 15 minutes. Guess they needed two blondes posing with cigars to appease a white audience. Keitel and Hurt definitely headline the movie with Forest Whitaker and Harold Perrineau making the story meaningful.

Harvey Keitel seemed very comfortable in his smoke shop, swearing, screaming, and bossing people around in his hometown of Brooklyn, NY. Cameo's from Stockard Channing and Forest Whitaker were very well acted and powerful. Everyone played their part well and helped the story piece together. This was a well written story adapted well to the screen.

My take away from this story is that everyone needs someone to love. This is a character study that follows lives that have been broken, devastated, and heartbroken as they search for hope through companionship with friends, former loved ones, and complete strangers. Each of these characters in an attempt to repair or build a family has lots of work ahead of them. We are left with a heartfelt story told by Keitel as he traced a thief into his blind grandma's project housing. Posing as her grandson, old, white Keitel and the elder black woman had dinner and wine together and laughed and socialized as if they knew each other their whole lives. The human need for love and company was apparent to Keitel and his heart kept him there in high spirits. It made her night and may have eased her pain of loneliness and disappointment. The experience seemed to humble Keitel and usher some form of forgiveness for the thievin' grandson.
February 19, 2014
Evenly paced, captivating, wonderfully told. Don't miss Ashley Judd's early-career performance.
August 1, 2011
straight up drama, not my fav genre. solid movie though
½ March 27, 2013
Wonderful writing and acting. An excellent, entertaining cast. I recommend this film.
August 16, 2012
Photography, writing novels, drawing pictures - ways to capture the transient moments. Moments that stay around a while and then dissipate, like smoke.
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