Anyway, this movie has been released in several versions, and I’m watching the three hour DVD version:

While the studio insisted the film’s running time could not exceed 150 minutes, Lonergan’s preferred version was closer to three hours. Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker contributed to editing a 165-minute version that Lonergan approved; the cut was never released because producer Gary Gilbert refused to approve it. Eventually, Fox Searchlight Pictures released the 150-minute film in a limited release in the United States on September 30, 2011, to moderately positive reviews from critics.

Hey! Anna Paquin! I like her…

Oops. This guy… not a fan. Whatsisname… er… Batfleck? No… Matt Damon!

Basic instinct.

This starts very strong, and not how you’d expect at all.

And I have no idea why I bought this movie — somebody must have recommended it, or something? But as usual, I have no recollection of why I bought it.

You know, I’m not sure about this movie. On the one hand, there’s interesting stuff going on — and on the other hand, there’s scenes like this that are supposed to be … knowing? in a way? and instead it comes off as clichéd.

I mean, clichéd in that it’s a middle-aged director doing a movie about teenagers getting laid.

And I’m guessing Lonergan was a huge nerd, so it’s like a Mary Sue on his part.

Checks out.

Hey, it’s that guy…


Yeah. that guy.

I’m enjoying this movie, but I can understand why the producers wanted to edit it down… All the scenes are interesting and stuff, but some scenes, like discussing Shakespeare, might not be … vital? But I like it — it’s a very unusual movie for a 2011 movie: It’s more like a 70s movie, but with better hair and less sweat.

Oh my god, I want to live there.

OK, into Mary Sue territory again — Mary Paquin’s character (who’s like 18?) is totally hot for her middle-aged teacher.

Checks out.

OK, there’s wobbly parts in this, but it’s a really original, interesting and affecting movie.

And it totally bombed.

Margaret. Kenneth Lonergan. 2011.

Blue in the Face

So, this is the companion movie to Smoke — I saw both of these when they were released, but I don’t remember at all what this is all about.

This little box set was released by Arthaus — a German distributor. (But the soundtrack and stuff is in the original English.) When I was looking for these movies, this seemed to be the only bluray option — which makes me wonder: Are Miramax movies just verboten in the US these days? Because of the Weinstein thing? But Miramax was perhaps the most important US indie thing back in the 90s, so it’s a shame that their catalogue is … er… mostly forgotten now? Perhaps it’s because Disney bought them, though?


Roseanne! Is this just a bunch of adlibs done on the sets of Smoke? With famous people doing cameos?

John Lurie!

Jim Jarmusch!

Is that… Lily Tomlin!?

This movie is just so random… but so amiable.

Oh, I had forgotten that Lou Reed is in this.

That’s whatsisface? Er… uhm… Oh, Michael J Fox.

This movie is amusing throughout — I smiled the entire time — but it does dip in interest depending on who’s doing a little story. Like, Jim Jarmusch was great — they could have done an hour of him just talking — but some of the other people sounded a bit, er, like they’d rehearsed an anecdote for a talk show? I mean, not a lot of those, but a couple.

Yes, it’s Madonna!

Yes, it’s RuPaul!

Half a meter taller than all the other actors!

They’re short in Brooklyn, I guess.

Anyway, this is a really enjoyable lark of a movie — it’s really charming. I can totally see how people would get a bit impatient with it, but I loved it.

Blue in the Face. Paul Auster, Wayne Wang, Harvey Wang. 1995.


Well, that’s weird.

People keep dying! I bought a shirt with fabric designed by Trina, and later that day it was announced that she died. And I bought this small box set (Smoke and Blue in the Face) in May 2023, and whattayouknow, May 2024 Paul Auster ups and dies.


That skyline…

Anyway, I was a huge fan of Auster’s — I’ve read all of his books up until, like, 2005-ish? Even the essay collections and stuff. (Unfortunately, his later books weren’t as compelling as his 80s/early 90s stuff, and I lost track of him…) But I did indeed see this movie when it was released, and I remember that I really liked it? But I can’t recall anything about it beyond that.

Hey! William Hurt! For most of the 80s, I’d see a VHS his name on it, and I’d rent it, and then be disappointed that John Hurt wasn’t in the film.

But I’ve finally managed to remember that those are different names.

Harvey Keitel, too…

Oooh. Hurt plays an author named Paul Benjamin. Getting meta already! (Benjamin is Auster’s middle name, dontcha know.)

I cannot overstate how much I enjoy watching these scenes — just wandering around New York, not a greenscreen in sight, without digital colour grading. It’s such a relief — these scenes bring me joy.

Man, Auster is so good at this stuff — random events that tie into something significant.

I wanna live in one of these apts.

Perhaps with less smoke, though.

Nice home decor!

This is such a great movie. It’s just kinda perfect. And I think it’s basically been forgotten now?

And it makes me wonder about Wayne Wang’s other movies… I should look them up.

Smoke. Wayne Wang. 1995.