"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.
[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]
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?
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.