38 of 366: Smoke

“You never know what’s going to happen next. And the moment you think you do, that’s the moment you don’t know a goddamn thing.”

Auggie Wren


I watched Smoke over the past few days in between having a fun time with my family and all I could think is how have I never seen this movie before?

It’s such a prize and just takes you in immediately with vignettes about different characters all connected through a cigar store in Brooklyn owned by Auggie Wren (best character name ever), played by Harvey Keitel.

William Hurt is introduced early on as Paul Benjamin, a writer who lives in the neighborhood and exemplifies the literary feel of the film as he tries to finish a book and ends up incorporating his experiences stemming from Auggie’s shop into the story.

Auggie and Paul build a friendship throughout the film while they work through their own life struggles and trying to be happy.

Another great quote from Auggie: “If you can’t share your secrets with your friends then what kind of friend are you?”

Auggie and Paul are also connected through helping a boy in the neighborhood, Rashid Cole (Harold Perrineau). Rashid has had his share of trouble, but is a good kid and equally helps Auggie and Paul through his outlook on life despite what he has been through.

Stockard Channing rounds out the main cast as Auggie’s ex, Ruby McNutt, who comes back into his life wanting money to help her support their (supposed) daughter Felicity, played by a scene-stealing Ashley Judd.

Forest Whitaker also plays a key role when it comes to Rashid’s story and the way director Wayne Wang and writer Paul Auster weave all the plot themes and characters together is well, marvelous.

As much as the prominent themes of Paul finishing his literary work and moving forward in his life after a loss, Auggie trying to keep his business afloat and Rashid finding his place in the world anchor the film, the little moments between the characters and especially when they are on their own make it complete.

The soundtrack of instrumental songs and crooning by Tom Waits and The Jerry Garcia Band take you right into the film and effectively match the stories it tells.

I have to watch a lot of movies by the end of the day tomorrow to get caught up on my challenge, but I definitely want to see Smoke again when I have the time. That is, of course, after I use any spare moments I have to find everything in Stockard Channing’s wardrobe in the film — eye patch included.








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