A beautiful depiction of humanity (by howard.schumann)
"It's such a sad old feeling, the fields are soft and green, it's memories that I'm stealing, but you're innocent when you dream, when you dream, you're innocent when you dream" ---Tom Waits Smoke is a very difficult film to describe because it does not unfold with a coherent narrative, but rather with slice-of-life vignettes about chance, communication, and inter-connectedness. Author Paul Auster and director Wayne Wang The Joy Luck Club worked on the story for years before it reached the screen and the collaboration produces a highly literate, novelistic <more>
cinema that is divided into separate chapters, each elaborating a different character. I have seen this small masterpiece many times, but I keep watching it because I love its celebration of the simple pleasures of life: friendships, good conversation, and, of course, smoking a good cigar. Smoke is not a complex or experimental film, just a beautiful and simple delineation of humanity.Harvey Keitel plays Auggie Wren, the owner of a small cigar store in Brooklyn. An amateur photographer as well as a raconteur of tall tales, Auggie has taken one photograph a day from the street corner outside his store every day for the past 14 years. "People say you have to travel to see the world,'' Auggie says. "Sometimes I think that if you just stay in one place and keep your eyes open, you're going to see just about all that you can handle.'' When a friend comments that all the snapshots look alike, Auggie points out the differences: the light, the season, and the look on people's faces. It's all a matter of slowing down, Auggie says, being in present time, and observing what is in front of you.One of the store's regular customers is writer Paul Benjamin William Hurt who hasn't published a novel since his wife died a few years ago in an incident of street violence. When a young Black man, Rashid Cole, Harold Perrineau Jr. saves Paul's life by pulling him away from on an oncoming car, Paul offers him a place to sleep. The lives of the two become intertwined in the young man's encounter with some robbers and in his search for his father, brilliantly played by Forrest Whitaker. When Auggie's former lover, Ruby Stockard Channing , shows up, she tells Auggie he has a pregnant daughter Ashley Judd that now needs his help. These incidents come together in a powerful, fully realized conclusion.Although Smoke has its moments of high drama, it is mostly a low-key, slice-of-life type of film that depicts events in life as happening for a purpose, not as random or chance occurrences. The characters are not "movie colorful", but ordinary down-to-earth people brought to realization by a flawless ensemble cast. The film reaches a sublime conclusion in a tender Christmas story narrated by Keitel and supported by Tom Waits' haunting song "Innocent When You Dream". Everyone ends up in a better place than when they started, including myself as viewer.
I cannot begin to convey the intellectual and spiritual riches of this exquisite, almost transcendental film. I have rarely seen a motion picture with better acting or a more literate, insightful script.Harvey Keitel, John Hurt, Stockard Channing, Ashley Judd, Forrest Whittaker, and all the other players contribute some of their finest performances.The film itself ends with a "Christmas story' which conveys more of the religious-and humanist-meaning of that holiday than a thousand scmaltzy TV specials.Watch this movie, watch it carefully. Rarely has the beauty and sublimity concealed <more>
behind the facade of quotidian existence been better conveyed in a film.
A movie that can be watched several times with joy (by theaudrey84)
After I read the comments for Smoke, I was fascinated by the power of cinema while I realized that most of the people felt the same things as I did when they watched the movie. I watched Smoke several times without getting bored and still I sometimes watch some scenes. The characters are so real and the dialogs are so natural that I feel like I meet my friends or a part of my family when I watch it. I feel like if I went to Brooklyn, I would find that tobacco shop with Auggie sitting at the desk, chatting with others.The beautiful scenes are also unforgettable The first scene where Paul <more>
tells about the weight of smoke The scene where Auggie says that the light, season and people are different in the photos that he takes every day I also love the end, where Auggie tells the Christmas story to Paul and the white-black scene with the song of Tom Waits.When you watch the movie, you understand that it is just the little things - a chat with your friend, a moment of happiness, a Christmas story told at lunch, a photo- and the feelings in life that matters. That's why maybe we feel so happy and relaxed when we watch the movie: We forget about the daily stress and want to be a part of Auggie Wren's world.
A great, slow paced movie that works. Many stories, and the ongoing theme is to figure out which are real, and which are BS. Smoke is centered around a cigar shop in Park Slope which, by the way, was shot on Prospect Park West and 16th St., NOT 7th Ave. and 3rd St... if you look hard at the street signs in Auggie's photos, you can see the "Prospect Park West" sign... and Auggie, the owner. The stories come from his own life, the life of his ex-wife, the life of a customer, and a boy with an active imagination and a troubled past. By the end, they are all intertwined. I <more>
don't think there's a larger point to the movie other than that people have a million stories to tell, some are real, and some are not.
This is a quiet, charming film about people. It is beautifully shot and carries a lot of intimacy and sensitivity. I was honestly lost in their world for a few, beautiful hours. The acting in this film is absolutely excellent and I love the subtle humor. The characters are very real and genuine. I haven't seen a movie with characters that seem like actual people in a while. This film definitely affected me after watching it, it feels very honest and real. Nothing's sickeningly sugar-coated, and nothing is overtly depressing either. It has an excellent balance. A very well done movie.
A truly excellent Movie experience (by holo_dan)
This is the kind of movie usually shunned by the mainstream, instead of using loads of SFX, it relies on a more valuable asset - it's cast!Hurt and Keitel are fantastic and bring their character's to life in a grand style - the rest of the cast is great also. Wang's direction is fresh, yet the narrative is not lost in an art for art sake attitude - sweet. Auster's script is also great.The movies greatest attribute is that it is very human.
A nice, quiet film, light years away from the Hollywood mainstream (by zozon-1)
The characters are genuine, funny, sensitive, tragic... just human. They are sympathetic with their small weaknesses and their daily problems. The movie gives a realistic description of the daily life of ordinary people in Brooklyn. Brooklyn has the star role. In fact the movie seems like a declaration of love to this city, although when compared to Woody Allen's "Manhattan", the approach is completely different.The message is in a way surprising maybe because of my European bias : Even in this money driven, rough, fast living, time-is-money, urban and individualistic <more>
environment there is a lot of love, friendship and humanity. Humanity means also that we do things which eventually do not make very much sense, are not logical and which may be very emotional. Smoking belongs to such activities. It is an activity which needs a work break. It gives us an opportunity for a stop and for starting rethinking issues. Therefore the small cigar shop, which appears like an island within a stormy ocean, like the antipode to the bustle environment.Sometimes some of the hurry enters the shop, but the clocks seem to tick differently there and at the end everything calms down. I like this movie.
"You'll never get it if you don't slow down." (by dav4is)
Pointless? Boring? You're not taking the time to think about what you're viewing. Some films are about more than action and SFX. This is one of them. So, forget about quick takes. Forget about "interesting" camera angles. Despite the package label as "Comedy", this is a serious film that requires serious study.And serious study will reward you with an understanding of this film as the masterpiece that it is. It's not about smoke -- although tobacco and the smoking of it is a thread that ties the film together: a mere plot device.Everything happens for a <more>
purpose. That's what this film is about.Rashid/Thomas is witness to a robbery and ends up with the cash dropped by the robbers. Which puts him on the run from the robbers. Which puts him at the right time and place to save someone's life. So that person can befriend him and get him a job in a small shop. So he can accidentally ruin thousands of dollars of stock. So he can repay his employer with the cash from the robbery. So the proprietor has the cash to give for someone's rehab treatment.And so it goes.Reviewers who liked the film were taken with Keitel's performance, which was exceptional. But look more closely at William Hurt. Take the time to study his method: his delivery, his small expressions, his body language. Very subtle, but masterful. An example: In the scene where Rashid/Thomas is chatting up the clerk to get her to come to his birthday celebration, he tells one of his tall tales. Hurt as novelist Paul goes along with a tiny roll of the eyes: What am I getting myself into? Easily missed.At the end of the film, stay through the entire Christmas story, even though the credits begin to roll. The Tom Waits song, "Innocent When You Dream", is an nice touch.I had to laugh at the reviewer who made much of the "improvisations" of the actors. In fact, much of the dialog is word for word from the screenwriter's previously published short story: "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story".I remember reading that story in the New York Times, Christmas, 1990.
Human emotions can also be measured if you say that cigarette smoke is measurable. (by FilmCriticLalitRao)
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 <more>
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.