Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Smoke (1995): review- 2/10

Talk based picture centred round Keitel's cigar shop in New York and the characters who pass through there.

The film is in-necessarily slow, and becomes boring. This is for various reasons but:

1. The plot does not contain sufficient tension; indeed it just seems to be made up arbitrarily as it goes along. Ergo, it's boring. This is not the same as slow.

2. Harvey Keitel is the only one who can really hold the screen, and the characters are too blank to sustain sympathy.

3. Lighting and scenography aren't used with any imagination- thie film has the washed out look of a cheap tv soap and lacks atmosphere. Where is the use of music also? We want more than a few bars of Tom Waits.

4. The interlacing of lives is too contrived and it's hard to sense that the young black man is really in danger.

5. Lacks the sense of existential revelation which, I think , must play a part in all good art- certainly the existential art Noir-esque of Auster. That is to ask, where is the sense of magic, or the question, what lies beneath it all?

It's peculiar that these difficulties should have arisen from a Paul Auster penned film, given how very well he does atmosphere and narrative and existential questions in his books.

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