Friday, August 1, 2008

"He Smoked His Own Book...Down To The Last Page"


Directed by Wayne Wang(1995)

Great script, amazing performances. Beautiful and poignant moments. Cliché's aren't bad cus they are un-true, they are bad because they are over-beaten paths to the truth. Love IS blind, but everyone's heard that so much it's lost it's meaning.Like Harvey Kietal's character who takes photographs of the same block every mourning, as part of his life's work, this film is familiar, but each moment is different and full of it's own little details. It's a very dialog driven film, lots of stories, anecdotes, and minutia throughout, everyone sounds natural and all of the actors are at the top of their game. The lives of several New Yorkers, revolve around a Manhattan cigar shop, owned by Kietal. The stories are broken into chapters, each named after a character, (the screen writer is critically acclaimed novelist Paul Auster, and it shows), and revolve around Kietal and a woman he hasnt seen in decades returning to tell him he has a daughter, whose currently in dire straights. To the life of a widowed writer named Paul (Auster's fiction often includes himself as a character, or someone with a similar name, occupation, etc), who is saved from carelessly being hit by a bus, by a teen named Rasheed. Paul, claiming the universal rule that if someone saves your life you have to do something for them, invites Rashiid to move in (which he nervously eventually accepts). That is until Paul, can't "focus" on his writing, so he gives Rashiid the boot, who finds his way to Forest Whitaker's gas station up state (the man who Rashiid has recently learned is his father), where he begins working, under the pseudonim "Paul", and then....well that's enough plot. The proof, so to speak, is in the pudding. It's easy to overlook, the little details, here which make this film much more than typical New York dramedy, but they are there, author and screen-writer Paul Auster, has an eye for detail, and for taking the stuff of melodrama and rendering it familiar yet different. If you don't catch it the first time, "slow down", and try again. What is the weight of smoke?