As the extremely withdrawn Don Johnston is dumped by his latest woman, he receives an anonymous letter from a former lover informing him that he has a son who may be looking for him. A freelance sleuth neighbor moves Don to embark on a cross-country search for his old flames in search of answers.
Two innocent people are arrested. An interesting third person, with broken English, joins them in their cell. On his idea, they decide to escape from the prison. Their journey is the rest of the movie.
In a vignette called "Strange to meet you," Roberto sits at a small table in a coffee bar. Five cups of coffee and two ashtrays are in front of him; he drinks and smokes. Steven joins him. ... See full summary »
This shortcut repeats the structure of Coffee and Cigarettes. This time, Iggy Pop and Tom Waits meet in a bar. But, again, we don't know why they agreed to do that in the first place, ... See full summary »
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
There are numerous continuity errors in positions of items on the table throughout the movie. Coffee jugs disappear (Twins), cigarettes disappear from ashtrays (No Problem), cigarette packets move around (Somewhere in California). Cigarette lengths and coffee levels also vary. See more »
The beauty of quitting is, now that I've quit, I can have one, 'cause I've quit.
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Not the Executive Producer ... Bart Walker See more »
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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