We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
All those cigarettes, and nobody knows how to smoke. Everybody in "200 Cigarettes'' smokes nearly all the time, but none of them show any style or flair with their cigarettes. And the cinematographer doesn't know how to light smoke to make it look great.
He should have studied "Out of the Past'' (1947), the greatest cigarette-smoking movie of all time. The trick, as demonstrated by Jacques Tourneur and his cameraman, Nicholas Musuraca, is to throw a lot of light into the empty space where the characters are going to exhale. When they do, they produce great white clouds of smoke, which express their moods, their personalities and their energy levels. There were guns in "Out of the Past,'' but the real hostility came when Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas smoked at each other.
The cast of "200 Cigarettes'' reads like a roll call of hot talent. They're the kinds of young stars who are on lots of magazine covers and have Web pages devoted to them, and so they know they will live forever, and are immune to the diseases of smoking. I wish them well. But if they must smoke in the movies, can't they at least be great smokers, like my mother was? When she was smoking, you always knew exactly how she felt because of the way she used her cigarette and her hands and the smoke itself as props to help her express herself. She should have been good; she learned from Bette Davis movies.
The stars of "200 Cigarettes,'' on the other hand, belong to the suck-and-blow school of smokeology. They inhale, not too deeply, and exhale, not too convincingly, and they squint in their closeups while smoke curls up from below the screen. Their smoke emerges as small, pale, noxious gray clouds. When Robert Mitchum exhaled at a guy, the guy ducked out of the way.