Collaborating with novelist Paul Auster, director Wayne Wang (Chan Is Missing, The Joy Luck Club) takes his camera to Brooklyn, where seemingly unrelated incidents and chance meetings end up affecting the lives of several people, even linking their destinies. If there’s a central character in this labyrinthine tale, it’s Augie (Harvey Keitel), a cigar shop manager whose life thus far has been marked only by the photos he takes in front of his shop entrance at the same time every day, a habit he’s had for the last 14 years. One of his regular clients is Paul Benjamin (William Hurt), a talented novelist who suffers from writer’s block since his wife’s death in the crossfire of a holdup. The mundane daily rhythms of these two men’s lives is disrupted by a series of bizarre encounters: the novelist is befriended by a Black youth (Perrineau), and the tobacconist’s former girlfriend (Channing) suddenly appears and reveals to him that they have a daughter who’s now in trouble. Linking these characters further is a paper bag containing $5,000, which gets passed from hand to hand. The drama unfolds like a puzzle and the pieces come together in intriguing, enigmatic and often quite poignant ways. —San Francisco Film Festival
Born in Hong Kong and based in America, director Wayne Wang studied photography, film, TV and painting in the US before landing several directorial assignments in his homeland (these included the Chinese episodes of Robert Clouse’s “The Golden Needles” in 1974 and a popular TV show based on “All in the Family”). He returned to the US and scraped together $22,000 to complete “Chan is Missing” (1982), a hip, Zen-inspired San Francisco detective story which also carefully dissected prevailing Oriental stereotypes. This landmark independent film became a critical and commercial success for its rare, authentic slice of Asian-American life in a sometimes wildly comic narrative that straddled genres. The film remains an inspirational touchstone for Asian-American filmmakers attempting to get their voices heard in the American cinema.
Wang’s second film, “Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart” (1984), again centered on San Francisco’s Chinese-American community. The film playfully yet poignantly… read more
Possibly my favorite movie! Love the silence of it and the way the dialogue and the small monologues activates your own imagination. And at the same time give substans and love for the characters. A result, I guess, of Auster`s literate sensebilities.
A nice-quite movie, pure humanity. Solid performance from all of cast. Maybe it is Keitel's finest performance.
A wonderful and very Austerian film, brimming with the sense of life’s overwhelming mystery and connectedness that permeates his novels, but also like Auster, it’s in many ways a film about nothing… read review