Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Movies: Smoking is Back, in a Big Way, as Characters Light Up in Toronto Fest Films

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Smoking. It kills you. It causes lung cancer and other cancers. Ads for cigarettes are considered verboten in 2015.

In the movies, smoking always made people look sexy and cool. Until it didn’t, and then it mostly disappeared.

Alas, if the Toronto Film Festival is any indication, smoking is back big time. After the last couple of days in theaters, I’ve started to smell like a virtual ashtray.

Naomi Watts smokes up a storm in “About Ray,” but she’s under a lot of stress. In Jay Roach’s excellent “Trumbo,” set in the 1950s, there’s a cloud of smoke hovering over the Black List. Dalton Trumbo is almost never seen without a cig. Of course Keith Richards smokes in his totally enjoyable documentary, “Under the Influence.” And I do mean cigarettes.

There’s plenty of smoke in the Hank Williams bio, “I Saw the Light.” That’s also set in the 1950s, so they have an excuse. Alicia Vikander plays a painter who smokes through one of those long, glamorous cigarette holders in “The Danish Girl.” I’m pretty sure cigarettes are what keep most of the people going in “Our Brand Is Crisis.”

Ironically, smoking is the only vice Lance Armstrong doesn’t seem to have in “The Program.” Performance enhancing drugs? Why, yes! But smoking, you know, is bad for you.

Ha ha.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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