Eleven separate vignettes are presented. In each, celebrities, playing semi-fictionalized versions of themselves (with the exception of the characters of various wait staff, and one actor playing a lookalike cousin of herself), meet in a food service establishment with coffee/tea and cigarettes involved. Beyond the topic of discussion that brought them together, they often talk directly about coffee and cigarettes, more often that coffee and cigarettes, and by association caffeine and nicotine, are not healthy, especially if they are the only things constituting lunch. Other recurring themes include the Lee family, cousinhood, celebrity worship, the connection between the medical and musical careers, and Nikola Tesla's belief that the Earth is a conductor of acoustic resonance. In all cases, the coming together for coffee/tea and smokes acts as a bridge to overcome disagreements, and/or makes uncomfortable situations less uncomfortable.Written by
Because they are very health-conscious, RZA and The GZA (credited as GZA) do not drink coffee. So they are drinking tea in the film. See more »
In the "Twins" segment with Joie Lee and Cinqué Lee, along with Steve Buscemi, Joie paraphrases a quote commonly attributed to Elvis Presley, "The only thing a nigger can do for me is buy my records and shine my shoes." Despite popular belief, Elvis himself, along with several of his friends and family members, has vehemently denied that he ever said this. See more »
Cigarettes and coffee, man, that's a combination.
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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 »
Written by Eric "Monty" Morris, Coxsone Dodd
Performed by Eric "Monty" Morris
Jamrec Music/Happy Valley Music, Ltd. (BMI)
Courtesy of Jamaica Recording and Publishing Studio, Ltd. See more »
A blast (***1/2)
Talk about an appropriate title.
This is a collection of 11 short stories directed by indie stalwart Jim Jarmusch ("Strangers in Paradise", "Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai") that have been filmed over the last 18 years, all of which involve two or more characters simply sitting at a table, conversing over...yep, coffee and cigarettes.
In the hands of a lesser director that might be extremely boring, but Jarmusch is a master of subtle understatement and great deadpan humor. This may be one of the funniest movies you've ever seen in which no one cracks a smile.
Almost all the actors play themselves, which adds a meta-theatrical, slightly surreal touch to it all.
Among my favorite stories are one in which an overly eager Alfred Molina has a surprise in store for coolly arrogant fellow actor Steve Coogan and a great one in which Cate Blanchett plays both herself and her jealous cousin Shelby. Then there's the one where Tom Waits and Iggy Pop meet in a dive bar to discuss things and have a smoke (to celebrate quitting smoking), Jack and Meg White of the White Stripes experimenting with a Tesla coil, and in the funniest casting, RZA and GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan sharing some downtime with, of all people, Bill Murray. I also like the one with Spike Lee's twin siblings, Joie and Cinque, dealing with an invasive waiter (a hilarious Steve Buscemi). Almost all the stories are excellent, but there are three that are very forgettable and pretty unnecessary, and they're all in a row, which disrupts the flow of the film. If those three had been taken out, "Coffee and Cigarettes" would be just about perfect, but it's still really good. And those three are out of the way in the first half, anyway.
For the first hour the movie feels mainly just like fun. Straight-faced, deadpan, B&W comedy just like "Strangers In Paradise". But as it goes on, and strange connections are made between the stories, it seems to have a sudden dreamlike depth to it.
The final story in particular, in which two old men in a dark room (Bill Rice and Taylor Mead) discuss life while on a coffee break that feels like it'll last forever, has a distinct "Waiting For Godot" feel and ends the movie on a perfect note of haunting, existential sadness.
It was at that point that I realized I hadn't just watched a string of jokey short stories, but a string of jokey short stories that say a lot about human nature and life in general.
And if that's not enough to interest you, how often do you get to see Tom Waits and Iggy Pop have a conversation? Or RZA, GZA, and Bill Murray?
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