September 16: The Holy Smoke video ranked #19 in rentals last week, according to the latest Billboard charts. (#17 last week) Again, that's quite good, considering there was no apparent promotion. Hmm, I wonder what TPTB at Miramax think? Perhaps they now realize that if they had more effectively promoted the film - airing the trailer on TV, for example - they would have seen a good return on their investment.
September 10: The Sunday Mirror chose Holy Smoke as the "Video of the Week"!
REVIEW: VIDEO OF THE WEEK - HOLY SMOKE (18)
Kate Winslet plays, Ruth, an Aussie girl who falls under the spell of an Indian guru. Harvey Keitel is P.J. Waters, the U.S. expert hired by her horrified parents to bring her home and "deprogram" her. He takes her to a shack in the outback to break her down, but without his usual back-up team he is overwhelmed by his attraction to Ruth, and she uses her sexual power to turn the tables so she can dominate and control him. It's not Titanic - but it is a superb mix of comedy, passion and psychological exploration.
September 8: The San Francisco Chronicle published today the Billboard list of "THIS WEEK'S TOP VIDEO RENTALS" - and Holy Smoke was Number 17! Not bad, considering there has been absolutely no publicity on the video release. I'm glad that more people are seeing another one of Kate's fabulous performances!
August 16: The September issue of Premiere magazine has a nice pic and review of Holy Smoke in their "Home Guide - Video Reviews and Essential Stuff for the Movie Maniac." They give HS four stars - "watch more than once". Thanks to Gretchen for the tip!
Holy Smoke **** When Ruth (Winslet), an impulsive young Australian woman, joins a cult in India, her family lures her home and hires the redoubtable PJ Waters (Keitel), a professional deprogrammer from the States, to bring her back into society's fold. But the question becomes, who's deprogramming whom? Campion returns to her early, surreal form (1989's Sweetie) with this provocative, frequently hilarious look at deceit and hypocrisy, sex and obsession; and Winslet and Keitel, no strangers to risk, stray into territory that lesser (and less courageous) actors would avoid.
August 12: Another great mini-review of Holy Smoke, from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
New of video store shelves this weekend:
"Winslet, Keitel Crackle in Holy Smoke," by Paula Nechak -
This marvelous, funny and complex film from Jane Campion both harkens back to her earlier work in visual design and gives us a mellower and more enlightened Campion. It is, on the surface, a battle of wills between a beautiful Australian (Kate Winslet) who has joined an ashram in India and the deprogrammer (Harvey Keitel) who has been hired to bring her home to her conservative family. It plays out much like an old Tracy and Hepburn comedy, with its sharp tongue, but it has a raw urgency. 115 minutes. Rated R for nudity, language, sexual content. Videotape and DVD. Grade: B+
August 11: More mentions of the Holy Smoke video release:
From USA Today: Holy Smoke * * * 1/2 (out of four) ...The real story in this underrated original is Keitel's co-star, Kate Winslet. Sexy, snotty, vulnerable and, above all, contentious, her character is the catalyst in a movie that generated more man-woman combustion than any other movie last year.
From the Boston Globe:
"Jay Carr's Video and Cable TV Tips" -
"Holy Smoke" - This throwback to Jane Campion's ''Sweetie'' and ''The Piano'' begins in an exciting burst of raw, anarchic energy. It's carried by Kate Winslet's thrillingly fearless performance as an Australian looking for something more spiritual than her stifling family.
From the Sacramento Bee:
Holy Smoke (R) - 3 stars - In Jane Campion's film, Kate Winslet plays a young Australian woman brought home by her family from Delhi, where she searched for enlightenment. It becomes a battle of wills between Winslet's character and a crack "cult exiter" (Harvey Keitel), hired by Winslet's whacky family to deprogram her. The movie - which works largely as an acting exercise for its stars - is a tightly-wound, heady affair.
From the Boston Phoenix:
This Jane Campion effort (the screenplay and tie-in novel were co-written with her sister Anna) would be a mess without Kate Winslet as a young Australian woman of no fixed beliefs who finds that her vacation to India has become much more when she crosses eyes with a guru and eternity opens up. Her doggedly bourgeois mother (a priceless Julie Hamilton) tricks her back to the Outback, where she undergoes deprogramming from an American expert (Harvey Keitel at his most truculent and disreputable and saddest). The subsequent battle of the sects and sexes is less interesting than the actors' moments of inspiration and Campion's flights of fancy.
August 10: The "Entertaindom" web site features the Holy Smoke video release news on their home page, along with a link to this review. HOLY SMOKE - Kate Winslet, Harvey Keitel
Director Jane Campion (''The Piano'') adroitly captures smug, postadolescent rejection of the familiar for new, exotic ''truths'' in Holy Smoke, with Ruth (Winslet), a young woman who's fallen under the sway of an Indian guru. By turns defensive and holier than thou, Ruth, radiant in her sari, is confident she's on the path to enlightenment -- and in the face of her beer-swilling, oddball Aussie clan, her affection for the ol' ashram doesn't seem entirely misguided.
Her inner peace is jangled by P.J. (Keitel), the cocksure, lecherous ''exit expert'' hired by her family to deprogram her. Entrenched in a morally ambiguous battle of the sexes (they do, after all, sleep together) disguised as a battle for her soul, Ruth becomes a force of nature, using every ounce of her feminity -- not least a beautiful woman's power to be cruel to an over the hill swaggerer -- to break him. Grade: B+
-- Alice King, Entertainment Weekly
August 7: The Holy Smoke video was officially released this week! The Region 2 version will be available September 18. Ordering info:
Region 1 - DVD from Amazon.com ($20.99); DVDExpress.com ($20.99).
Available in the UK (Region 2) September 18 from Black Star (£15.99)
and DVDWorld (£15.99).
The Region 2 DVD has these special features (!):
Audio commentary featuring Kate Winslet and writer Anna Campion
Here's the pic of the cover that the UK sites have posted:
August 7: This mention of the video release of Holy Smoke is from the St. Louis PostNet:
"Tomorrow - Movies & Videos" -
"Holy Smoke" released on videoTuesday, 8/8 - Joe Holleman gives this film three and a half out of four stars. Kate Winslet is Ruth Barron, an adventurous young Australian woman who goes to India for a vacation and falls under the spell of a guru who separates her from her kind, lovable but amazingly odd family. The family hires P.J. Waters (Harvey Keitel), the world's leading cult deprogrammer. They lure her back home by claiming that her father is dying, kidnap her and then sequester her with Waters in a remote cabin for a three-day session of programming. Waters is at first successful in ridding Ruth of her ties to the guru, and also in keeping a professional distance from the alluring Ruth. But eventually, ever so slowly, the tables begin to turn. Rated R with a running time of two hours.
August 6: Another mention of the video release of Holy Smoke in the Boston Globe:
''Holy Smoke'' - This odd movie with Kate Winslet, as a convert to a cult, and Harvey Keitel, as the professional hired to deprogram her, is best known for Winslet's frontal nude scene. Too bad. Although Jane Campion's film has clunky moments and the story line is not fully realized, the intellectual underpinnings are ambitious. Raising questions about who really needs to be deprogrammed is at the core of this intermittently compelling movie.
August 5: There's a nice mention of Kate in yesterday's issue of USA Today:
"Home Movies" - Due Tuesday: Kate Winslet's sexy performance in the underrated Holy Smoke.
August 4: I found some mentions of the upcoming (Aug 8) DVD/VHS release of Holy Smoke in various publications:
From the Christian Science Monitor Movie Guide:
Winslet is rousingly good as a young Australian woman whose parents, alarmed at her devotion to an Indian guru, hire a self-styled deprogrammer to clear her mind of cultish delusions.
From the NY Times:
"Thank God it's Quantas!" cries Ruth Barron's mother (Julie Hamilton), on her way to Sydney from India with her headstrong daughter, Ruth (Kate Winslet), whom she has been trying to extract from her guru. Back home Ruth is turned over to a tough "cult exiter" named P.J. Waters (Harvey Keitel), but gradually he is overmatched. Though it has sensual allure, Jane Campion's film isn't helped by a screenplay that, Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times, "threatens to become heavy-handedly ideological beneath its outward whimsy."
From the Bergen Record:
Jane Campion's "Holy Smoke!," with Kate Winslet in a much-praised performance as an Australian devotee of an Indian guru.
June 11: Thanks to Matthew of Starlett Express for sending me this info - "Holy Smoke was released on Video in Australia on 6th June 2000. The reason it was released so much earlier to the US date (August 8th 2000) is most probably because it is an Australian movie. If you want to rent a copy go to the bigger video stores like Video Ezy as a lot of the smaller stores don't have it."
June 1: I have been bringing you info about the release of the "Holy Smoke" video as I find it, including that DVD Express.com is taking pre-orders for the DVD ($20.99). Today, I found that Amazon.com has posted a pic of the packaging. They are also selling the DVD for $20.99. It will be available August 8. The VHS tape won't be "priced to own" for a few months.
May 26: I have been checking regularly the various sites that sell videos and DVD's for info on "Holy Smoke". I reported earlier this month the release date of August 8, and then gave more info on the DVD details. Today, Reel.com has added the 8/8 date to their site for the VHS tape ($88.99). Obviously, the cost of the tape will decrease after the initial rental period. BTW - DVD Express is taking pre-orders for the DVD ($20.99). Express.com - DVD Movies
Reel.com - Holy Smoke (1999)
May 24: Here's the latest info:
DVD release on August 8, 2000; running time of 114 minutes
Special Features: Interactive Menus, Scene Access
Video Format: Widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio;
Standard 1.33:1 [4:3]
Add'l Features: Enhanced for 16x9 TVs
Audio Tracks: English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround; French
# Discs: 1; Layers: Single; # Sides: One
This DVD is Regionally Coded for Region 1
I knew about the date previously, but thanks, Rona, for the reminder. I wish there were more features - drat!
June 6: Thanks to Lorissa for scanning a review of Holy Smoke from the June issue of CIVIC Video Magazine. I have transcribed it:
Jane Campion's film carries some of the elements that have marked her film-making (a determined and individualistic woman, for example), along with a clash of cultures and a deliberate clash of styles. To this story about a young woman battling to escape normality (among other things), Campion puts in a most extraordinary comic background. And if you find yourself in this film not knowing whether to laugh or cry, I suggest you opt for laughter - the tears will come naturally. Kate Winslet is Ruth, an Australian girl traveling through India, where she becomes infatuated with an Indian sect and decides to throw away her Western ideals and marry into the sect. All of which thoroughly disturbs her family in suburban Sydney. Her mother (Julie Hamilton) puts on her bravest face, flies to India and tricks her daughter into returning home with her. For at home they have enlisted (and paid for) the help of a professional de-programmer, an American called P.J. Waters (Harvey Keitel) who is a go-getter in cowboy boots with a terse manner. He can have the girl back to "normal" in three days he reckons. And so Ruth is ambushed, corralled like a wild animal and left in a deserted cottage in the bush with this American who is going to change the way she thinks. He is immensely experienced but even he can't take into account his own personal flaws and the determination of a young woman who will use everything she has to re-assert herself. **** (Four stars)
May 1: I checked upcoming video/DVD release dates for Holy Smoke on various sites, but found no definite date. I did find "dummy" packaging on Reel.com; it is posted below (nice!). I also found a review of HS on Reel.com that I hadn't seen before. The wonderful comments about Kate's performance are below the pic:
Winslet is stunning as an Australian woman bewitched by an Indian guru. Keitel is the American deprogrammer who "rescues" her in this uneven oddity best suited for offbeat drama fans Winslet manages to deliver one of the best performances by an actress this year - it's so good it almost makes the film worth seeing. She has a quiet stranglehold on the camera in her every scene, and her eyes alone can convince the viewer of the authenticity of Ruth; in them, you see not a lifetime spent in Ruth's shoes, but life itself. That she could mine such a brilliant performance out of such a poorly written role is further evidence that Winslet is one of the greatest actresses working today.
August 5: Holy Smoke director Jane Campion is to be honored at the WinFemme Film Festival's closing-night ceremonies, and two of her films will be screened at the festival: WinFemme 2000 Film Festival will feature "See Jane Run," a tribute to director Jane Campion during the closing night event on Sunday, August 20 at the Beverly Hills Civic Plaza. Festival attendees will be able to view her films "Sweetie," (Sat., 12:45 pm) and "An Angel at my Table" (Sun., 2:00 pm.).
The festival is hosted by the Women's Image Network:
Founded in 1987 as a not-for-profit corporation, Women's Image Network was formed to encourage positive portrayals of women in theater, television and film to alter limited perceptions of women in all walks of life. Using these far-reaching mediums, WIN helps women have their own voice in creating their own image and encourages stories that depict positive, powerful, confident and courageous women. To implement our goals, WIN produces projects and hosts seminars, screenings and special events.
The festival runs August 17-20 and is open to the public. The screenings will be at The Laemmle Music Hall 3, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-274-6869. For a screening schedule, go here.
April 7 - Holy Smoke opened nationwide today in the UK.
April 2 - I found a pic of Kate in a scene from the film featured on the homepage of Time Out. A portion of the review is posted on the "Reviews" page.
April 1 - I found a mention of Holy Smoke in article about special effects. The article describes Animal Logic's work for a number of high-profile films, including Holy Smoke and The Matrix. If you're into f/x, you can read the article at SMH Text-only - Oz fx - in effect, the best
From the UK Times, April 1, 2000:
"Openers," by Clive King - Holy Smoke (18), Jane Campion, 1999, 114 mins -
After the disappointing The Portrait of A Lady, Campion returns to form with this meditation on spirituality and sexual politics. Kate Winslet is magnificent as Ruth, a young woman locked in a power struggle with the "exit counsellor" (Harvey Keitel) who has been hired to break her allegiance to an Indian guru. The film's darkly comic depiction of twisted family values has more in common with the director's debut feature Sweetie than such later triumphs as The Piano.
March 31 - Holy Smoke opened today in limited release in the UK at the Odeon West End, 40 Leicester Square, London. Showtimes: 12:40 PM, 3:20 PM, 6:00 PM, 8:35 PM (also Fri & Sat 11:35 PM).
It will be In wider release on April 7th.
March 31 - I found a review I hadn't yet read. ("The Pick of the Recent Releases") It is posted on the "Reviews" page.
Here's a March 30 item from This Is Leicestershire:
"Kissing Kate Hits the Bottle for new Film" - Titanic star Kate Winslet has revealed she had to have a few stiff drinks before plucking up the courage to kiss another woman in her latest film. Pregnant Kate said she was terrified when it came to filming the raunchy scenes for Holy Smoke, which is being released in Britain on Friday. 'I wasn't drunk to the point of falling over - but it really helped me,' she told the Daily Star. 'Nude scenes are really hard. I hate the fact they're in the script even if it's for a good reason. I was dreading the moment.'
Kate stars as rescued cult member Ruth Barron in the controversial film. A cult expert, played by Harvey Keitel, takes her deep into the Australian outback to try to 'de-programme' her. But she manages to turn the tables by getting him into bed - and then teases him by kissing a female friend.
March 27 - There is a new review in the April issue of Sight and Sound magazine. "Holy Smoke is an exquisite and unexpected film." Thanks to Ian for the tip. [It is now posted on the "Reviews" page.]
March 25 - There is a new article in newsunlimited.co.uk that describes the area where some of HS was filmed.
"When the producers of the new Kate Winslet film Holy Smoke (which opens on Friday) went searching for a location to portray barren isolation, it was to this desolate region of Southern Australia that they came."
Read the full story here - Guardian Unlimited
March 25 - USA Today notes that their film critic placed Kate second in "order-of-preference picks" for Best Actress for her work in Holy Smoke. Thanks to Ruth of DiscoverKate for the news.
From BBC News, March 22, 2000:
"Pregnant Winslet Steps Out" -
Kate Winslet was at the premiere of her new movie Holy Smoke in London last night, one of her first appearances since announcing her pregnancy. Asked about how she was coping with her impending motherhood, she said: "I've been all right. I was a little sick but I'm fine now." She wore a figure-hugging black leather jacket and tight trousers and joked: "There's no bump yet. I want my bump." Her child is due in September, while Holy Smoke - which also stars Harvey Keitel, is released on 31 March.
From The UK Telegraph, March 22, 2000:
"Kate Winslet admits new film was a challenge," By Nicole Martin
Kate Winslet was joined by her husband, Jim Threapleton, at the British premiere of her new film, Holy Smoke, last night. The 24-year-old actress, who last month announced she was pregnant, also attended the screening, at the Odeon West End cinema in London's Leicester Square, with the film's co-writer Anna Campion.
Winslet plays a young Australian who joins a religious cult in India and falls under the spell of a guru. A battle of the sexes ensues after her family trick her into returning home and hire an American counselor, played by the American actor Harvey Keitel, to reverse her brainwashing in a deprogramming session in the outback. She said: "It's a brilliant story, and of all the films I've done it's the one I care about most. It was a real challenge for me. It is by no means a masterpiece, but it's a really interesting movie. I've read articles about it and it sounds as if we've made this steamy, erotic film, but it's not that at all. It's about a young girl on a journey to find her heart."
March 21 - Kate hosted a charity event, in aid of the Terrence Higgins Trust, featuring the screening of her latest release. [Visit Winslet Whispers for full coverage.] From ITN:
"Kate Winslet is squeezing in her showbiz appearances while she still can. At the opening of her new film, Holy Smoke, the pregnant actress proved her proportions are far less than Titanic by squeezing into some tight snakeskin trousers and a sexy black leather jacket.
It was the first showing of the film in the UK, and Kate's first showing since announcing that she is expecting a child...In Holy Smoke the award-winning star of Titanic plays an Australian tourist who becomes smitten with a guru on a trip to India. It gave her a chance to work with movie legend Harvey Keitel, and Kate says it was an opportunity of a lifetime. "At first I thought it would be scary and would be really intimidating, but he's a really wonderful guy. I loved working with him. He was just brilliant, he's just an amazing actor, he's incredibly professional and dedicated.'"
The film opens in theatres in the West End, UK on March 31st, and nationwide in the UK on April 7th.
From the UK Times, January 22, 2000:
IF The Beach does not inspire a trip east, perhaps Kate Winslet's forthcoming film, Holy Smoke, will. Winslet portrays a backpacker in India who is drawn into a cult, and returns to Australia to be de-programmed. Both countries are likely to attract as much attention as the stars, Winslet and Harvey Keitel. It might be coincidence that both Holy Smoke and The Beach have emerged at the start of a new century - but they will surely chime with anyone who has decided that this is the year to fulfil a long-held ambition to hit the road.
From BBC News, November 5, 1999:
The New York Film Festival hasn't exactly turned its back on Hollywood product, but the range of films being screened this year indicates a definite preference for non-mainstream cinema Kate Winslet will be seen in the new Jane Campion drama, Holy Smoke playing opposite Harvey Keitel The 37th New York Film Festival runs from 24 September to 10 October.
From Popcorn News, September 29, 1999:
"Winslet Movie Tagged By Censor" -
Younger audiences will be unable to renew their acquaintance with an English rose.
Kate Winslet's new project Holy Smoke has been given an '18' certificate by the British Board Of Film Classification, limiting its potential with audiences and the box office. This matches the American 'R' [restricted] rating recently given to the movie, which has Winslet as a young Australian woman attempting to escape the influence of a cult. A 'deprogrammer' - played by Harvey Keitel - is brought in to assist, but finds himself falling in love with her instead. 'Strong sex, language and infrequent drug use' were cited as the reason behind the British decision, making it the first picture since her 1994 breakthrough role in Heavenly Creatures to be judged so strictly. Holy Smoke is directed by Jane Campion, and co-stars Pam Grier. It arrives in the UK on 11 February 2000.
From BBC News, September 28, 1999:
"Winslet stirs up holy row in India " -
Actress Kate Winslet's new film, Holy Smoke, has upset Hindus in India. Priests in the northern city of Pushkar have strongly objected to the use of an ancient temple for filming. They also say the crew flouted strict rules on behaviour and dress. Holy Smoke stars Winslet as the young member of a religious cult who has an affair with her western guru, played by Harvey Keitel.
Winslet is not the only western star to have offended Indian Hindus - Madonna recently had to answer criticism from religious officials when she appeared at the MTV music awards wearing a skimpy top and an Hindu symbol.
From BBC News, September 14, 1999:
"Naked truth between Winslet and husband" -
Actress Kate Winslet told the New York Times that the naked sex scenes in her latest movie, Holy Smoke, left her and her husband "a bit shell-shocked". The Titanic star, who has an on-screen affair with US star Harvey Keitel, took her husband, Jim Threapleton, to the screening recently but says that "he understood completely". The Oscar-nominated actress added: "He trusts me enough to know that I would never do a nude scene if it wasn't for an absolutely good reason."
From BBC News, August 31, 1999:
"Sex Sells at Venice" -
British stars Kate Winslet and Ewan McGregor will join Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and French legend Catherine Deneuve at the festival. Meryl Streep, Cameron Diaz, John Malkovich and Michael Caine are also expected to attend.
The festival's new director, Alberto Barbera, said he hoped the event would surprise and stimulate. This year, he has tried to update the festival's traditional art-house image by bringing in Hollywood stars alongside up-and-coming names. Alongside Eyes Wide Shut - which deals with jealous and sexual obsession - there are a number of films dealing with erotic fantasies
Kate Winslet stars in New Zealand-born director Jane Campion's Holy Smoke, described as a "journey into the heart".
From BBC News, July 29, 1999:
This year's Venice Film Festival programme has been unveiled Eighty-one films from all over the world will be shown at the festival, with 18 in competition Other films in competition include Holy Smoke, starring Kate Winslet and Harvey Keitel and directed by Jane Campion.
From Popcorn News, February 1, 1999:
Kate Winslet's finding it tough going on the wagon. She gave up drinking 3 months ago to research her new film role in Holy Smoke when she plays a woman who joins a religious cult and lives life without vices. It also stars Harvey Keitel (as the svengali head of the cult) and Pam Grier. Winslet can next be seen in Hideous Kinky, which opens across the UK on Friday.
From the UK Telegraph, September 23, 1998:
"Kate, the star of India" -
Hundreds of people, mostly young men, filled the streets around New Delhi railway station yesterday to get a glimpse of Kate Winslet, the British actress. The 22-year-old star of Titanic is in India to film Holy Smoke, an Australian film directed by Jane Campion. Police had to use force to keep the good-natured crowds away from Winslet, who was accompanied by her boyfriend, Jim Threapleton, 24. Titanic was a huge hit in India, even among the poorest agricultural communities. Winslet has the sort of celebrity status usually reserved for its own stars. Holy Smoke is about an Australian backpacker, played by Winslet, who is caught up in an Indian cult. She is to film in the holy city of Puskhar in Rajastan next week.
This is not the first time Winslet has been in India. In May, she made a personal visit to an ashram in Rishikesh, visited by the Beatles in the Sixties.