Sunday 4 June 2006


I realised just how old I am today when, sitting in the Clapham Picture House watching an advance screening of 'Thank You for Smoking', I couldn't help but remember the days of my cinema-going youth when everyone not only smoked on the movie-screen, but also in the movie-houses!

Indeed, when I relinquished my Bette Davis fag-habit and moved on to a Bing Crosby pipe, I used to regularly stoke up my briar and fill the circle at the Odeon Bromley with swirling clouds of 'Holland House' tobacco, which had a curious aroma akin to that of a custard-factory.

Anyway, Jason Reitman's debut feature is a smart, sharp, satirical stab at the more ludicrous absurdities of political correctness and nannying tendencies of modern day society.

Tobacco industry spin-doctor, Nick Naylor, is mercifully denied the last-reel redemption that most movie studios allegedly wanted before agreeing to release this film; nevertheless, whilst the importance of individual responsibility and personal freedom is the main message, the perils of smoking (the equivalent to two jumbo jets of people dying of lung cancer every day) are an itchingly uncomfortable element of this deviously funny film.

See my friend Irascible Ian's Blog for a fuller (and 'spot-on') review. My own favourite moment was Rob Lowe as a movie mogul devising a 'stars smoking' scenario for a space movie in which Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones would enjoy a post-coital ciggie while suspended in zero gravity!

And when the lights finally came up, I could only smile - maybe just a tad wistfully at the innocence with which we walked with death - at that memory of a time when the cinema floor was covered not with spilled popcorn but with fag-ends!

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