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Off-site with the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre

Off-site: Smoke / Blue in the Face

Actor Harvey Keitel
September 18, 2022 - 7:30 pm
Q&A with filmmaker Wayne Wang.


Germany/Japan/U.S., 1995

Wayne Wang’s captivating independent film centers on a Brooklyn tobacco shop, the hub where a diverse cast of characters hang out, tell stories, and share secrets. William Hurt, Forest Whitaker, Harold Perrineau, Giancarlo Esposito, Stockard Channing, Jared Harris and others each deliver some of their finest performances playing the customers who gather at the store at different walks of life. At the center is Harvey Keitel as the earnest shop owner Auggie Wren, who invests his life in these patrons and curiously photographs the store from across the street every morning. As each character’s story collides, Wang seamlessly weaves together the subplots, creating a fascinating portrait of a lively New York neighborhood.

DCP, color, 112 min. Director: Wayne Wang. Screenwriter: Paul Auster. With: Harvey Keitel, William Hurt, Forest Whitaker, Stockard Channing, Giancarlo Esposito.

Blue in the Face

U.S, 1995

After coming in under budget at the completion of Smoke, Wayne Wang and screenwriter Paul Auster managed to convince their producers to make an immediate sequel, this time shot almost entirely on the fly with no script in just five days. Despite the constraints, Wang and Auster, serving as co-directors, deliver a satisfying follow up, returning once again to Auggie Wren’s Brooklyn tobacco shop, and assembling another impressive cast, including Harvey Keitel, Victor Argo, Keith David, Giancarlo Esposito, Roseanne Barr, Michael J. Fox, Lily Tomlin, Mira Sorvino, Lou Reed, Mel Gorham, Jim Jarmusch, Malik Yoba, and Madonna. What emerges is yet another funny, moving, and authentic portrait of a Brooklyn neighborhood.

35mm, color, 83 min. Directors/Screenwriters: Wayne Wang, Paul Auster. With: Harvey Keitel, Victor Argo, Keith David, Giancarlo Esposito, Roseanne Barr.