FIVE STRANGERS. FOUR SECRETS. THREE SCHEMES. TWO BEST FRIENDS. AND ONE NEIGHBORHOOD HANGOUT WHERE THE WORLD STILL MAKES SENSE.
Watching this movie is like immersing oneself into a Paul Auster novel; he wrote this collection of stories that revolve around a Brooklyn tobacco store managed by Harvey Keitel, and worked very closely with Wayne Wang. We’re introduced to several characters, including a writer (William Hurt) who lost his wife in an accident, and a black kid (Harold Perrineau, Jr.) whom he strikes up a chord with. Themes concern parenthood, broken relationships and the art of storytelling (such as the last sequence, a Christmas tale, where Keitel is absolutely spellbinding). Very easy to get drawn into these people’s lives; great performances and delicately handled.
1995-U.S. 112 min. Color. Produced by Greg Johnson, Kenzo Horikoshi, Hisami Kuroiwa, Peter Newman. Directed by Wayne Wang. Screenplay: Paul Auster. Cast: William Hurt (Paul Benjamin), Harvey Keitel (Augustus Wren), Stockard Channing (Ruby McNutt), Harold Perrineau, Jr, Forest Whitaker, Victor Argo… Giancarlo Esposito, Ashley Judd.
Trivia: Followed by Blue in the Face (1995).
Berlin: Special Jury Prize.
Last word: “I remember that the day before ‘Joy Luck Club’ was even released, Harvey Weinstein started calling me, and that’s when I took a script that I was working on with Paul Auster for three years by that time, and I said, ‘Well, this is the one I really want to make, Harvey; would you make it?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ And that was ‘Smoke’. […] It] was actually very low budget also, because, again, on the page it was a very wordy script, and no apparent signs of how it would make any money at all. I don’t know why I go for those.” (Wang, IGN)