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A comic series of short vignettes built on one another to create a cumulative effect, as the characters discuss things as diverse as caffeine popsicles, Paris in the '20s, and the use of nicotine as an insecticide--all the while sitting around sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes. As director Jim Jarmusch delves into the normal pace of our world from an extraordinary angle, he shows just how absorbing the obsessions, joys and addictions of life can be, if truly observed. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Bill Groundhog-Day, Ghostbustin'-ass Murray!
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The credits end with a list of the historical, scientific, musical, and cinema-related figures that are mentioned or referenced throughout the film: "RESPECT TO: Nikola Tesla, Otis Blackwell, Junior Parker, Elvis Presley, Jesse Garon Presley, Lee Marvin, Henry Silva, Giant Robo, Heckle & Jeckle, Abbott & Costello, Vivienne Westwood, Spike Jonze, Spike Lee, Sam Mendes, PT Anderson, Michael Winterbottom, Harold Ramis, Gary Goldberg, Ghostface Killa, Old Dirty Bastard and the rock band Tesla...in a way..." After this list it closes with the memorial: "LONG LIVE JOE STRUMMER!" See more »
It's easy to dip into coffee and cigarettes and meet all the characters but you might get a bit bored by some of their conversations.
In all honesty I just wanted to watch this movie to see Iggy Pop, Tom Waites, The White stripes and Bill Murray. I was tempted to fast forward all the other vignettes to get to the ones with these characters in but thankfully I never or I would never have seen 'cousins?' -- Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan playing themselves in an absolutely perfect portrayal of the shallow, sickening and repellent nature that comes with fame. Coogan takes the word 'scumbag' to new heights, and Molina's keenness and almost innocence which slowly turns sour is perfectly pitched. Jarmusch has managed to capture the minutia of the trappings of fame so succinctly that sometimes it's difficult to watch. It's excruciatingly embarrassing but just gorgeous and has to be seen -- several times.
Likewise with 'somewhere in California'. Iggy and Tom play themselves but you can call Iggy Jim or Jimmy or Iggy or Jiggy if you like! Tom initially opts to call him Iggy but proceeds to refer to him as Jim throughout, and so the off-kilter banter begins. It's an hilarious portrayal of two guys who obviously have a mutual respect for each other's work but don't actually know each other that well. A series of ridiculous conversations and awkward silences ensue with Iggy becoming more and more animated and expressive to over-compensate for Tom's laidback yet defensive attitude. There are some excellent one-liners and it's just great watching these two giants chew the fat, fighting their different corners and trying to keep their cool.
I also thought Cate Blanchett shone in 'cousins', playing both roles as bitter cousin/ insipid famous cousin. It's another awkward, horrible meeting between two people -- one has made it, the other hasn't, and It's plain to see there isn't much love between them. We witness a series of underhand, loaded and nasty comments all in the guise of friendship, a friendship that only exists due to family ties.
Coffee and cigarettes the movie is a bit like coffee and cigarettes the vice: you'll get a buzz that's for sure. It's is an easy watch and each vignette has its qualities but as a whole it's a bit of a cheeky movie. It gets off on the fact that it has all these fab artists starring in it which goes a long way but not far enough. But I can't stress enough that it really is worth getting this movie out for the Coogan/Molina and Pop/Waites vignettes. Both priceless and essential viewing.
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