There is honestly only one thing that drew my attention to the film Smoke: Harvey Keitel. My obsession with Harvey Keitel is a side effect of my much larger obsession with Quentin Tarentino and a much appreciated side effect at that. While flipping through the possible films I could watch my eyes managed to find Keitel’s face on the poster for Smoke and this week’s Netflix film was decided.
The film Smoke is the story of a group of characters that have one thing in common, they all have something to do with Auggie Wren’s smoke shop. As these characters meet and interact they begin to find connections between themselves and their lives.
• Auggie Wren (Harvey Keitel)- Auggie is a wholly interesting man. Owning a smoke shop, Auggie has spent years trying to save up enough money to be comfortable. With some money in hand Auggie risks everything when investing in an expensive shipment of Cuban cigars. Augie also takes a picture of the exact same spot at the exact same time every day.
• Ruby McNutt (Stockard Channing)- A woman from Auggie’s past who has obviously played him before. Showing up because she needs help with her daughter who has gone astray, Ruby begs Auggie for help.
• Paul Benjamin (William Hurt)- Paul is an author who lost his wife. Stuck with writer’s block, Paul seems to be stuck in life until he meets a young man whom he can help.
• Thomas ‘Rashid’ Cole (Harold Perrineau)- A young man who has run away from home after getting in trouble with a bad thug. A twist of fate leads Paul and Thomas to meet. Paul gives Thomas a place to stay and helps him get a job at Auggie’s smoke shop. As Paul and Thomas start to become friends, it becomes clear that Rashid is not as innocent as he seems in his involvement with the thug. He is also doing more than just hiding, he is looking for his father.
• Cyrus Cole (Forrest Whitaker)- a man with a wife and child, Cyrus had a rough past and has made a point to try and turn his life around. Owning a garage, Cyrus is forced to return to his past when Rashid comes to visit.
This was an odd film. I have always liked films that take a number of different characters and stories and weave them together but the acting in this film had its ups and downs. Some scenes were absolutely outstanding while some left me wanting more effort and emotion. The story was good with a number of different twists but the writing was also lacking in some scenes. When it comes down to it this was a well done film but I’m not going to rave about it. I give this a C+. It was worth watching but nothing you have to look up right now.
Last week I told you that I would try not to pick such depressing films every week for my This Week on Netflix segment but, considering I pick movies at random, I was unable to achieve my goal. This week’s Netflix film comes from Instant Queue and is a film called Paperman. An unbelievably odd story about a writer who is trying to complete his second novel, Paperman quickly turned from the weirdest movie I have ever seen to one of the most touching films I have watched in a long time.
Jeff Daniels stars as Richard Dunn, a failing writer that is desperately trying to complete his second novel. The film opens with Richard and his wife, Claire Dunn (Lisa Kudrow) as they travel to a cabin in Long Island so that Richard can have some solitude in which to write. To keep up with her job and allow Richard time to write, Claire lives elsewhere during the weekdays. It is clear from the beginning that Richard is a quirky, possibly mentally unstable individual. Though his is an adult, Richard is accompanied by his imaginary friend, the hilarious Captain Excellent (Ryan Reynolds), who has been with Richard for years. Plagued by writer’s block and unable to even being his novel, Richard ventures out to town. There he meets the teenage Becca (Emma Stone) along who is with her friend Christopher (Kieran Culkin) and her chicken-shit boyfriend Bryce (Hunter Parrish). Though he is childless, Richard hires Becca to babysit which turns into house-sitting while Richard wastes time in town. Though their relationship seems to start as something that could turn sexual and therefore pedophiliac, the two end up being two lonely people that long for the company of a friend. Drama explodes when Claire misinterprets the friendship between Becca and Richard forcing each character to examine not only their lives but the relationships that make them up.
Watching this film is an odd experience throughout but during the last half an hour it becomes abundantly clear that this film is brilliant. With a script as quirky as the main character, the film messes with your mind in more ways than one. Richard spends the film obsessing over the name for his novel’s main character, a bird that is the last of his kind. We hear the first line of the novel over and over again, “Richard regarded his solitude as something sacred”, and each time with a different name. We don’t realize that the line is about Richard himself until he realizes it at the end of the film. The realization, in my opinion, serves as the films resolution, giving it a sense of closure. The film also brilliantly develops Becca and Richard’s relationship. At first, seeming to be something that was going to lead to an unholy and illegal situation, the relationship evolves without the audience realizing it. What initially made me uncomfortable turns into a heart breaking friendships between a man longing for a child and a young woman longing for a family to love her.
This film is certainly worth watching, especially if you have Neflix because….well you can stream it instantly whenever you want. The film is darkly comedic and seems to deliberately mess with your head. I give it an 8 out of 10. The acting, though nothing award winning, is great throughout the film but its real appeal is it’s oddly thought provoking content and story.
Approximately six days ago, I was searching through On Demand and became instantly elated and dismayed. The elation: for some reason, that I’m not complaining about, Showtime had put almost every season of every show that the network had created On Demand. Feeling quite like a kid in a candy store, I flipped through all the different shows trying to decide what to watch first. The dismay: the first 4 seasons of Californication were being removed from On Demand on April 3rd. So began my quest to watch four Seasons of Californication in six days. Throughout my quest I got to know the show’s main character, Hank Moody (David Duchovny) quite well. Here is what Hank Moody taught me.
- What I Want To Do (minus the writer’s block): For years my goal has been to become a famous writer. After completing countless blog posts and entering an endless number of short stories in contests with no monetary gain to show for it, I had begun to lose sight of my goal. Watching Moody’s roaming lifestyle reaffirms my life’s goal. I want to be like Hank in the sense that I want to write, meet people and write more. I don’t need to include Hank’s ability to screw-up every aspect of his life and his inability to escape writer’s block.
- Rant: It baffles me when people say they try to avoid ranting. If you begin a rant, one of two things can happen. One: people agree with you and your rant sparks a conversation. Two: people disagree with you and your rant sparks a conversation. Either way, as long as you’re not a complete asshole, you get a conversation out of the rant.
- Friend Fights: How are two friends supposed to fight over something The Hank method seems to work pretty well. A couple minutes of wrestling combined with a few solid punches to the ass (no gay meaning there, just legitimate ass punches) seems to clear up a lot of arguments in Hank’s world.
- The Power of Words: Words are something that you can always use, manipulate and play with to create humor, joy, sorrow or any real emotion. They are a tool that, if used correctly, can get you in or out of any situation. To properly wield words like the weapons they are, one must practice. Play with words, use new words, see what effects different words can have on different people. Knowing that words can be your most powerful weapon is not enough. Like all weapons, your words need to be practiced and honed.
- Listen: Hank Moody is a douchebag, a womanizer and an asshole but he exercises one of the most important skills a person has: listening. No matter how wronged a woman has been by Hank Moody, they always credit him as a man who hears everything. To actually listen and hear what a person has to say allows you to really know that person. Not everybody can do it as well as Moody though.
- God Hates Us All: While we may not all have a Karen (Natascha McElhone), the woman whom Hank endlessly loves and constantly mess up with, or a Mia (Madeline Zima), the sixteen year old that tricked Hank into sleeping with her, the truth behind moody’s book title is universal. God (Buddha, Allah, Zeus, ect.) hates us all, every last tone of us. That being said, stop wallowing in your own misery like you’re the only sad person in the world. God hates us all. We all have some terrible, shitty thing happening so stop thinking you’re the only one. Either accept your miserable fate or pull one over on God and figure out how to be happy.
This six day Californication marathon has been some of the most fun I’ve had watching TV. The show is witty, well written, well acted, wholly entertaining. I give Seasons 1-4 the following
- Season 1: 7 out of 10
- Season2: 8 out of 10
- Season 3: 9 out of 10
- Season 4: 9 out of 10
The show is awesome, though quite raunchy. If you have no problem with sex, drugs, alcohol and profanity then I highly recommend this show.