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Overall Rating
3.45

Awesome: 4.55%
Worth A Look59.09%
Average: 22.73%
Pretty Bad: 4.55%
Total Crap: 9.09%

5 reviews, 14 user ratings


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Coffee and Cigarettes
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by Jay Seaver

"Not much of a lunch, but a good anthology."
4 stars

Not every one of the 11 short films will score with a given audience member, but a few are comic gold, and the success rate is high. Jim Jarmusch has been making these little films since 1987 - black and white, featuring a couple people in a café, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, and talking. These folks are celebrities, most playing a somewhat caricatured version of themselves. Somewhere inside each of the eleven segments, someone will mention that coffee and cigarettes isn't much of a lunch. It has the potential to get repetitive, and some quite frankly aren't terribly entertaining. They are, however, more than balanced by the ones which are hilarious.

The funniest are, by and large, the ones with a sort of tension to them, where people are meeting for the first time and one is clearly more impressed with the other than vice versa. After a forced conversation between Steven Wright and Roberto Begigni (whose two styles don't match well at all) and a downright peculiar bit where Joie and Cinqué Lee have Steve Buscemi as a waiter, we get the first bit that is pure gold: Iggy Pop meeting up with Tom Waits, with Waits being subtly hostile to Iggy. A similar tactic is used later on, in the segment entitled "Cousins?", with Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan meeting, with Molina being a big fan of Coogan's work and Coogan being "aware" of Molina's. It's a refined bit of conversational combat.

A number of the segments are just odd, some working much better than others. "Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil", for instance, features Jack & Meg White of The White Stripes talking while Jack's Tesla coil sits off to the side in a little red wagon. It's probably the most outright peculiar segment, although most have a sort of unpredictability to them. The characters share names with the actors, and mostly seem like their public personae, but have just enough eccentricity that it's seldom clear where the individual quirks stop and the acting begins. Especially with the ones who may not be familiar - this is Renée French's only credit, so how much of the femme fatale type she plays is a character and how much is Jarmusch wanting to capture someone he knows. That's part of the appeal, too - in a segment where Cate Blanchett plays herself and a cousin with a striking resemblance (but a wholly different personality), we wonder which character more aptly represents the real Cate.

Writer/director Jim Jarmusch stumbles, on occasion, though he's got talented performers to smooth it over. The portion with Wu-Tang Clan's GZA and RZA awkwardly references the other segments, but has Bill Murray, who can do deadpan eccentric better than anyone.

There is a fair amount of repetition here (it's hard not to be aware of him re-using the overhead shot, for instance), but the film manages to be original and unpredictable through most of its runtime, and delivers some very big laughs.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8883&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/02/04 14:50:10
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Tribeca Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/04/14 PAUL SHORTT ENGAGING COLLECTION OF STORIES 3 stars
11/08/06 Carol Baker worst documentary ever. not watchable 1 stars
5/23/06 Agent Sands Funny, interesting vignettes. 4 stars
8/11/05 The Grinch Both the Emperor and Jarmusch have no clothes... 2 stars
5/15/05 Indrid Cold A few scenes work, but mostly quite boring. 3 stars
2/14/05 Angela Saunders Moves toooo slooooowly. Complete waste of time, had to turn it off. 1 stars
12/20/04 MyGreenBed Other than the Waits-Iggy segment, this is an awful failure. Blue In The Face is better. 1 stars
10/27/04 nicki the different ingredients go well together 4 stars
10/19/04 Sharon great movie but no long enough, we need more more and more 5 stars
10/03/04 el burro Completely pretentious navel gazing 1 stars
8/11/04 ZF the Blanchett and Molina/Coogan bits were good, the rest blah 3 stars
7/29/04 pantseatflyer only the Bill Murray clip was funny 2 stars
7/26/04 Agent Sands Hilarious, really creative, interesting, & quite weary of how unhealthy the title duo is. 5 stars
3/20/04 Bingo was his name-o A little slow moving for most tastes, but well worth seeing. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-May-2004 (R)
  DVD: 21-Sep-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  19-Aug-2004 (M)


Directed by
  Jim Jarmusch

Written by
  Jim Jarmusch

Cast
  Cate Blanchett
  Steve Buscemi
  Alfred Molina
  Bill Murray
  Roberto Benigni
  Steve Coogan



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