This is the kind of small, no-budget film that I assume actors really love to do. There’s no money, but if the script is good you get a chance to really dig into some fascinating characters. This script is really nice. It happens mostly in a small tobacco store in Brooklyn. It’s on the corner of Prospect Park West and 16th Street, a block away from Prospect Park. The building is still there, but now it’s either Ferrell’s Bar and Grill or a pie shop, I can’t be sure. Harvey Keitel is Auggie, the proprietor, and he has been taking exactly the same picture of his shop for … I think it was 19 years. William Hurt, a writer who recently lost his wife and can’t write anymore, looks through some of the albums and remarks that they are all the same. Auggie says no, they’re all different. And Hurt realizes that they are.
This sweet little movie is just full of basically unrelated stories like that. They are all fascinating, as are all the characters. I get the feeling that they are all friends of the director, Wayne Wang, some of them probably from the ranks of thousands of hopefuls who come to the Big Apple hoping to become a star. For most of them, it’s not in the cards. Sorry, it just isn’t, even though they are all good. The only other really familiar names are Stockard Channing and Forest Whitaker. Much of it was improvised. And let me hand it to Harvey Keitel. The man always delivers, in every film I’ve ever seen him in. Several times here he is just sitting with someone, telling a story. He never, ever sounds like he is saying something he has memorized. He’s just talking. If you like movies like this, you could hardly do better.
This is being written on October 19, 2017, and the Harvey Weinstein scandal is still unfolding. This is one of the first Miramax films I have reviewed since that shitstorm blew in. I thought I ought to mention that, and I probably won’t do it again. The fact is, the miserable piece of shit made some damn good movies. Just because he’s a molester and probable rapist can’t be allowed to rub off on the films he produced. However, I know that from now on when I see that logo appear on the screen I will have a bad taste in my mouth, like I do when I see Bill Cosby. Sort of similar to the pang of sorrow I will always feel whenever I see the Twin Towers in a New York Film.