Coffee and Cigarettes

MGM/UA

Jim Jarmusch’s “Coffee and Cigarettes”
isn’t as much a movie as it is a display of all the cool
people Jarmusch knows. Shot over a span of 17 years in black and
white, the movie is made up of 11 vignettes, all of which consist
of celebrities sitting around, drinking coffee and smoking
cigarettes. The premise sounds very student film-ish, to be sure,
but one would be hard pressed to find a student film with this kind
of star power. Featuring musical luminaries and A-list actors,
it’s the cast that makes this movie so entertaining. Short on
context or direction of any kind, the movie manages to stay
captivating throughout due to excellent performances.

Much of the humor is derived from the awkwardness of the
situations; in every scene, the actors seem to either barely know
or strongly dislike. In “Somewhere in California,” Iggy
Pop and Tom Waits meet up at a skanky old dive bar. When Iggy makes
a reference to the bar’s shabby nature, Waits suggests they
go to Taco Bell or IHOP because that might be more Iggy’s
style. In “Cousins?” Alfred Molina comes equipped with
a genealogy chart and attempts to convince fellow actor Steve
Coogan that they are distant relatives. While this is wildly
exciting to Molina, Coogan just seems frightened. When Molina asks
for his phone number, Coogan, in an excellent deadpan response,
answers, “Can I say no?” Elsewhere, Steve Buscemi shows
up as an eccentric waiter with whacked-out theories on
Elvis’s secret twin brother.

The movie is worth the price of admission for
“Delirium” alone. The vignette features RZA and GZA
from the Wu-Tang Clan discussing the benefits of holistic medicine
and a seemingly deranged Bill Murray attempting to hide from an
unnamed adversary by working as a waiter.

“Coffee and Cigarettes” definitely feels like a
collection of scenes, held together by a set of arbitrary
guidelines. The film doesn’t leave you with much to think
about on your way out of the theatre, but as far as entertainment
goes, this movie trumps most with its own highly unique brand of
comedy. HHH

 

— Amos Barshada

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