Monday, January 5, 2009

Smoke (1995) R - 3½ Stars

Now here's an unusual little movie with a great cast of strong performances. If you are looking for that adrenaline rush, this won't be your movie but more, it's the touching story of the bond of friendship within usual people that make up our world, and their daily struggles at life. Everyone connects to each others life just the way they need to.

Auggie Wren (Harvey Keitel) lives and owns a cigar shop in the center of his world in Brooklyn NY. Every day over the last many years, at precisely 8:00 am, he snaps a photo in black and white of his corner store, to capture the people who enter his world. One of his regular customers and friend is Paul Benjamin (William Hurt) who's life has been turned upside down ever since his wife was killed, along with their unborn child, in front of the store.

Paul, a writer, walks around in his fog and walks in front of oncoming traffic when he's pulled to safety by Rashid (Harold Perrineau, Jr.). Rashid is on the streets as he refuses to live with his overbearing aunt, and is desperately searching for his father. Paul feels the need to repay Rashid for saving his life and invites him to stay for a few days, almost becoming his temporary dad. While the two become closer, the distraction is too much for Paul to handle while he tries to complete his novel. So instead, Rashid is once again on the streets in search of his father. His trail leads him to Cyrus Cole (Forest Whitaker) who owns and operates an out of the way gas station in the middle of nowhere. As he studies Cyrus, he knows this is the man he has been looking for. But when he sees Cyrus already has a new family and son he feels he probably has little need for him. In order to stay close to his father in any way possible, he snags a job with him helping out around the station.

Meanwhile, back at the cigar store Paul runs into his ex girlfriend Ruby (Stockard Channing), who needs money in order to help out what might be his drug addicted daughter Felicity (Ashley Judd). Paul feels the need to help eventually leading all of their lives to somewhat interconnect allowing each of them to discover the true meaning in theirs lives.

1995 - Smoke - Berlin International Film Festival - Silver Bear - Special Jury Prize
1995 - Smoke - Independent Spirit Awards - Best First Screenplay

Miramax Films
Director: Wayne Wang
Writer: Paul Auster
Producers: Greg Johnson, Peter Newman, Diana Phillips
I viewed 12/08

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