Martin Frost (David Thewlis) is a novelist, and he's off to the country for a vacation after finishing his latest book and to work on a new story. No sooner does he fall asleep, though, that he wakes up to find someone else in his bed, Claire Martin (Irène Jacob), who initially says she was lent the house by the same guy who lent it to Martin. Funny coincidence, eh? Just like their names: His first is Martin, her last is Martin. It helps that she's a hot, exotic French beauty with an active libido, and soon she's got her top off as they roll around in the sheets.
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Peter Sarsgaard plays Richard, a typical (almost stereotypical) techo-geek who made a million dollars the year prior and is about to make a lot more through an IPO. We are introduced to him and Florence (Molly Parker) as they check into a hotel suite in Las Vegas. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that Richard recently met Florence, a freckled stunner, at the strip club where she works. Within five minutes, Wang sets the film's tone by having Parker perform an act that eliminates any chance for an R rating -- a shocking act for a lead actress in a mainstream film, and one that suggests that freedom of sexuality is a major issue here (and that Parker is an actress with few boundaries).
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Separated into segments with titles like "Brooklyn Attitude," Blue in the Face explores the Brooklyn mystique and the Brooklyn experience with video interviews and impromptu sketches. Everything "Brooklyn" is praised, from Ebbets Field and Jackie Robinson to Belgian Waffles and the sanctity of the local cigar store.
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The sketchy plotline defies explanation. Basically, Smoke is the lazy, drawn-out story of a smoke shop owner, Auggie (Harvey Keitel), his estranged lover (Stockard Channing), a favorite patron/novelist, Paul (William Hurt), and the young man who saves his life (newcomer Harold Perrineau). As $5,000 is kicked around among these characters, their lives interact in unpredictable ways. Sometimes this is interesting, often it's just tiresome.
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There's already an Oscars buzz surrounding this movie.