Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Smoke (1995)

Smoke / Blue in the Face Double-Feature!

Synopsis: New Yorkers do good deeds for each other and shoot the shit in a friendly, neighbourhood corner store. So, it’s like Sesame Street without the Muppets! 
Blurb From the VHS Jacket: "In the tradition of The Big Chill... William Hurt (The Doctor) and Harvey Keitel (Pulp Fiction) head an all-star cast in this unforgettably fun and entertaining motion picture! A group of people's lives intertwine when a New York cigar store manager, Auggie (Keitel) befriends them." [Um..."in the tradition of The Big Chill"? Aside from starring Hurt, this movie is nothing like The Big Chill.]

What Did I Learn?: 1) If somebody saves your life, and all they want from you is a cold lemonade, give them the drink and then don’t make any further promises you don’t wish to keep. 2) You can measure the weight of smoke by weighing a cigar, carefully collecting all of the ashes when you smoke it, and then subtracting the weight of whatever is left from the original.

You Might Like This Movie If: you know that smoking brings people together.

Really?: I had a bit of trouble believing Rashid (Harold Perrineau) would leave his semi-stolen $6,000 in Paul’s apartment after he’s been asked to leave. And now that we’re on the subject of the money in Paul’s apartment, it’s funny how: a) nobody once suggests giving the money back to its rightful owners, and b) Paul rather conveniently finds it hidden in his bookshelf sometime later when Rashid pays him a visit.

Rating: I have a soft spot in my heart for Smoke – it’s a smart, moving, extremely well-written, and occasionally funny character-driven drama. Everyone in the film is quite good, but Hurt and Keitel are at the top of their game and share some great moments together; I’ll never forget Auggie Wren’s Chirstmas story, or the scene when he explains both his love for photographing the same street corner every day at 8AM, and the need to sometimes slow down and actually notice the world around you. Smoke is a masterpiece, and highly recommended. 10/10 stars.

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