Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) Poster

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A blast (***1/2)
Ronin474 July 2004
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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Breezy absurdist comedy
danielhsf11 February 2005
--Mild spoilers--

I haven't seen a single Jarmusch before this and have no knowledge or his style whatsoever, nor have I smoked a cigarette while drinking coffee, but I enjoyed this film immensely.

It doesn't purport to speak of grandiose themes and epic emotions, nor does it go out of its way to be deliberately offbeat and quirky; the audience has no emotional attachment to the characters and there is no plot in most of the vignettes. So what puts this film above all the pretentiously shot black-and-white art-house crap that is slugged out every year? For one thing, it is really funny. From its expressionistic colors to the dialog that proudly smacks of absurdist humor, this film is like a breeze of cool air, utterly enjoyable from the first reel to the last that does not cloy on to the heart, but is very unforgettable.

Ultimately, its unobtrusive absurdist humor, which provokes chuckles instead of heartily laughs, serves to prove the Pinter-esquire themes of the futility of communication. We get a sense that the characters are isolated and desperately trying to touch each other through their speech but ultimately failing to do so; and yet, through their manic speech patterns and delirious pauses, what is unsaid speaks more than what is said itself. While this unconventional style of humor is often difficult to pull off as it might fast become monotonous (as evident in a recent stage production of The Caretaker that I saw), Jarmusch's deft direction with his actors (from their gestures to the way they hold their coffee cups) pushes forth the humor and carries it on steadily throughout the entire film.

It is hard to say much about a film who has nothing much to say. As in my favorite segment, 'No Problem', the one with the two French black guys, their dialog only serves to underscore the meaningless and nothingness of communication. What is scary about it is that it is so accurate, that these type of conversations, however ridiculous and absurd when portrayed on screen, often typifies our daily conversations. It depresses me sometimes that human communication can be easily reduced to all these, and this film makes the point entirely clear.

So it definitely comes as a relief, that as a conclusion, the relatively more heart-warming vignette with the two old guys (Champagne) was chosen. Not only does it touches lightly on the recurring 'acoustic resonance' theme, it also hints that we may in fact touch each other, through common music or through a common idea. And it just happens that that common song was 'I have Lost Track of the World' by Gustav Mahler, an amazing piece by an amazing composer that I have just recently began to love, a delightful moment which shows that although we are as disconnected at the different vignettes in the movie, it is comforting to know that we are still united in some weird cosmic way, like this forum here. And like the two old guys, after our coffee and cigarette break in which we step into an odd world that is not really unfamiliar, we would have to step back in to the real world again. But it doesn't hurt to have a little nap in between and pretend bad coffee is champagne.
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No tea and biscuits
stensson10 July 2004
Short films with nonsense dialogue of shifting dignity. Lots of self irony or even self sarcasm. Tom Waits is mocking with Iggy Pop in a way that it's hard to believe they ever can talk to each other again. Bill Murray is pulling the leg of the hip hop movement and the movement finds that funny. Cate Blanchett is on a genial level playing the double part of the filmstar and her jealous cousin.

Jim Jarmusch can't be beaten. The dialogue seems to be mostly improvised, but the concept is not. Every short chapter here has a meaning and gives us something to think about. The films are in black and white, like coffee and cigarettes and that still is, and will always be, a way of pushing things harder. This is very much comedy and very much serious.
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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.
dawn44019 March 2006
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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Sandcooler6 October 2008
This movie starts out promising with a piece of absurd comedy that actually works. Though you really can't do anything wrong when Steven Wright is in your scene, I had high hopes. I mean you have everything, a good setting, bizarre dialogues and the complimentary clever twist. However, the movie pretty much goes downhill from that scene on. Jim Jarmusch tried to make art people would speak of in every lounge bar from Europe to Eastern Europe but he just comes of as lazy. He had an insane amount of time to figure how he would bring it, and then he comes up with this. It doesn't even seem like he did any writing or anything, all he did was set up the camera and hope Iggy Pop and Tom Waits would say cool lines because they're Iggy Pop and Tom Waits. Most of the material carries that bothersome "almost funny"-label. Steve Buscemi's theory on Elvis and his twin brother is almost funny, but then again no. Teaming up a near-insane Bill Murray with guys from the Wu-Tang Clan, well that was funny. Both The White Stripes and Alfred Molina have a pretty good segment too but all in all I just felt bored with the whole thing. I like the idea, but some good writing wouldn't have hurt.
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Odd concept works wonders.
G-Jax25 October 2004
An odd concept for a film, Coffee and Cigarettes can be seen as either one of two ways. On one hand a dark, clever, ingenious piece of cinema, or on the other hand a dark, clever, ingenious piece of cinema. Jarmusch has succeeded in gathering as diverse a cast as you're ever likely to see, the site of GZA, RZA, and Bill Murray waxing intellectual over smokers cough and herbal medicines is enough to interest even the most fervent sceptic of such work. Even the Cate Blanchett (whom i'm not a huge fan of) scene was so well set up and written (or improvised, who knows) that you find your self unable to turn away, so intent are you on what she has to say next. Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan are so wonderful as over blown versions of themselves, Coogan as a super arrogant celebrity and Molina as a bumbling, sweet, excitable actor. Together they form what would be the best scene of the whole film, that is if it wasn't for Iggy and Tom. Ah Iggy and Tom, such characters, such dialogue, such a beautifully surreal piece. Iggy (or Jim to his friends) is more like an over nervous school boy than an ageing rock star, and Tom is strong as the defensive perfectionist. All in all this film succeeds in what it tries to do, if you like dark surreal comedy then you'll like this. Be warned though it will give you a craving for Coffee and Cigarettes.
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I guess I mistakenly think I'm cool
merbelle25 September 2004
I loved this movie. Okay, I loved about 75% of it. But I'm glad I saw all of it. I don't smoke, I only drink coffee when it's dressed up in a frilly disguise, and I didn't recognize everyone in the film, nor did I much care about that. I didn't recognize the writer/director's name, though I really enjoyed Night on Earth and Dead Man, and now I know his name. It was just so good to see this parade of tense interaction, waiting on or predicting what would come next. I loved how some of the moments in the first vignette were mimicked in a later one by an entirely "different" set of people.

I loved the stark interruptions of uncomfortableness, loved watching all the people pour their coffee or tea, loved the hilarious facial expressions of Molina and Coogan--it seemed to me they were portraying the two most extreme British stereotypes interacting with each other, and it was clearly fun for them.

I enjoyed the cheap, gritty sets, the introductions and goodbyes. I am not sure who the movie would best play for; as I sat and thought about who to share it with, only members of my own family came to mind. We're all a bit quirky, so the best way I can put it is that maybe if you like the "mockumentaries" of Christopher Guest, but can appreciate an even darker twist, you'll have a laugh at this.

The boring parts were the shortest, and the vignettes I liked best were so much fun it was worth the whole picture to see them.
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great after some wine, with friends
jseagles10 October 2004
This movie is better than the first reviewer claims. The context of the movie is definitely social, but the humor is only superficially based on the character's real-life celebrity. True, the background music is interesting if you are a film buff. But, take my advice, watch this movies after a couple drinks, at a social gathering, to really enjoy it. The humor is better than in most full length feature comedies. I laughed loud and hard and had a lot of fun when I caught this at the university of Chicago's student movie theater.

the real interest in this film is the social awkwardness created when people meet under false pretense or forced circumstance, versus the natural comfort that is obvious between longtime friends who enjoy each others company.. The gestures and facial expressions by these great actors more than make up for the weaknesses of the film. The brother/sister pairs show boredom and typical familial nit-picking. Iggy and Tom waits are brilliant. buschemi is a little misplaced in the scene where he shows up. my 2 favorite scenes, that i feel show the real genius of jarmusch, are 1.) the moment when molina's gestures have revealed that he is not, as indicated in the first review, a sycophant, but simply an honest and interested human being who is higher up in the scheme of things than the pretentious jerk he tries to befriend; and 2.)the scene where the old guy falls asleep and the camera zooms in on him for a moment, revealing a great moment of humanity.
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Killing Me Softly With These Things...
Galina_movie_fan7 February 2005
"Coffee and Cigarettes" (2004) written and directed by Jim Jarmush is a very simple movie shot in B/W, a typical in the good sense independent movie. It is a collection of eleven shorts where famous actors, comedians, rock-stars, and musicians played themselves. They drink coffee (lots of it), smoke, and talk. While each segment is short, we still can learn a lot about human nature.

I read some comments and was surprised that there are so many negative opinions. Some users think that the movie was slow - I did not even notice how the time flew. Of eleven shorts, six were wonderful, and the rest - quite watchable. After I finished watching it, I started all over and watched the ones that I loved for a second time. The best, IMO are "Somewhere in California" with Iggy Pop and Tom Waits, "Cousins" - (Cate Blanchette plays a dual role - herself and her not so successful cousin, and she is as good as ever in the dual performance); "These Things Will Kill You" (Joe Rigano, Vinny Vella, and Vinny Vella, Jr), "Cousins?" – easily the best in the bunch (Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan), "Delirious" – the funniest (RZA, GZA, and Bill Murray), and the final one, the elegiac "Champagne" – (Bill Rice and Taylor Mead).
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Java & Smokes, Bizarre Little Jokes
flickershows5 July 2004
Finally, a movie my sister can get behind! With a title like 'Coffee And Cigarettes', health nuts must be having a collective heart attack. And the title isn't ironic. Every single episode in this string-of-vignettes movie has enough java and smokes to murder a truck driver. Bizarro writer/director Jim Jarmusch shot the flick over many years, gathering a wildly disparate cast to co-star in his black and white art film. No scenes are connected (except by the ever-present cigs & a cup o' joe) and each quirky sequence functions as its own self-contained act.

Most of the character's names are just the actor's names, but that doesn't mean they're playing themselves. In reality, Bill Murray might moonlight as a waiter and hang out with the Wu-Tang Clan (who always refer to him as "billmurray", one word). Jack & Meg White from the White Stripes might have a remarkable interest in science. And Cate Blachett might have a resentful, rebellious cousin who looks exactly like her (because she's playing both of them). But I doubt it. Those are just a few of the oddball sketches in this movie. In fact, I mentioned those ones first because, of the scenes with the big-name celebrities, they're probably the weakest.

Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan work together in the longest sequence. Molina is courteous and affable, Coogan aloof and mildly interested in why Doc Ock has asked for this meeting. In a gem of warp-speed character development, Molina goes from shy to eager to crushed to bitter. Both men are excellent. Also, musicians Tom Waits and Iggy Pop have similar oil/water chemistry, which is what makes their culture-clash one-upsmanship memorable. Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright set the tone with their jittery, nonsensical opening scene. There's more, but I've forgotten the rest already.

So I didn't reveal much plot. What's there to tell, though? The terrific Molina/Coogan sequence could be lengthened into its own movie, but the rest of this picture wouldn't work if the short scenes played any longer. 'Coffee And Cigarettes' isn't really even about smoke rings or the caffeine rush. Jarmusch and the cast use those as props to create some zany bits with an "opposites attract...or not" motif. The flick is funny, a bit too long, and light years away from the mainstream. I enjoyed myself, found my interest bobbing & weaving, then left the theatre. That's okay. Even art films are allowed to be fast food.
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One more review for the pile
kegl911311 February 2008
I read a whole host of reviews on this site before renting this film, and despite all the warnings, I gave it a chance. Hell, I gave this film more than a chance. I had low expectations but this collection still failed to impress. First of all, I can't even believe some of the reviewers on here had to point out that the shorts are, in fact, connected. Wow, really? With every sketch featuring coffee and cigarettes, dialogue that is reiterated in a number of sketches, and every single damn sketch dealing with a part of the spectrum of social awkwardness; interpreting the themes in this film and making your own connections does not make you an appreciator of finer things, no it merely confirms that you aren't completely retarded.

So let's get off our high horse and stop using the words "metaphysical", "surreal", and "existential" for a moment, and look at what this film does have to offer. Yes, the Molina/Coogan sketch is absolutely brilliant and hilarious. Had this been the only short released to the public, then I never would have anything bad to say about Jarmusch. The Iggy Pop/Tom Waits meeting comes in a close second comedy-wise. Not just a piece of great casting, Waits gives such a natural performance that takes dry humor to a whole new level. Cate Blanchett's dual role is pretty cool and fun to watch, but compared to Nic Cage's dual role in Adaptation (which also came out in 03), this doesn't even come close.

Beyond those three sketches, I don't know what to say. Bill Murray gives a great performance that is ruined by two rappers who clearly needed better direction, there's a sketch titled "Renee" that sets up a character who is almost OCD about her coffee and then goes nowhere with it, "Those Things'll Kill Ya" plays like a scrapped Seinfeld sketch, "Twins" features more bickering that is clearly meant to be comical but never works because there is no chemistry between the actors (who are twins for Christ's sake). I could go on but its a waste of time. The problem is that Jarmusch keeps trying to tell a joke, gets halfway there, and then abandons the punchline because he's trying to paint a bigger picture. It's like sitting through 90 minutes of someone saying, "Knock knock, who's there? We all get defensive when we're uncomfortable". And there is the biggest problem. This was never meant to be released as a movie. There's a lot to like about these sketches individually. Lots of tiny little nuances in the acting and very subtle humor that works for the short film format. But these should have been released on Youtube for people to discover on their own, not as a film that has a character deliver a nice hamfisted epiphany at the end.
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jarmusch not trying=still better than most
aptpupil7912 September 2004
my impression of the film is that jarmusch wasn't really trying very hard. perhaps i'll be proven wrong and this film will one day be shown to have an understated genius about it, but i doubt it. the film is merely a collection of shorts that jarmusch has been putting together since 1986. the first one was the first one shot and the later ones seem to be filmed more recently (judging by the age of bill murray, and inclusion of alfred molina or meg/jack white, for example), but i can't verify that it was presented in the chronological filming order. at any rate, the film revolves around various people discussing various things over coffee (or tea) and cigarettes. more than anything the film made me want to go to a diner and have a coffee with some apple pie a la mode. unlike 'stranger than paradise' or 'down by law' this film had very little lasting effect on me. i had fun while i was watching it - jarmusch always has a quiet humor to his films, producing more chuckles than outright laughs - but it didn't leave me thinking like some of his others have. i like the molina/coogan and rza/gza/murray shorts the most. i don't mean to give the impression that the film is bad or that i don't like jarmusch because both are incorrect, it's just that jarmusch has done better and the film was mostly good fluff. B-.
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No Cigar
The_Void22 June 2005
Jim Jarmusch used to be one of the coolest directors around. Down by Law and the excellent Dead Man, among other films showed this; but his latest crop of movies have been far more down to earth, and less cool than his other films. Ghost Dog, while not bad, felt as if the cast and crew couldn't really be bothered - and that is true of this film also. Coffee and Cigarettes is basically eleven stories revolving around people drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. As with all films that have different parts, the stories vary in quality; but unfortunately, there's more bad ones than there are good. Jarmusch has managed to collect a good variety of different actors (and popstars) to star in the film, and this is one of the film's best points. As mentioned, there is more disappointment than good stuff in this movie; but the highlights of the movie include the section with The White Stripes' duo of Meg and Jack, a discussion between Steve Coogan and Alfred Molina, Steve Buscemi's Elvis theory and an odd little sketch where Cate Blanchett plays both parts.

Jarmusch has opted to film this movie in black and white, much like he's done with many of his earlier works, and it does serve in giving the film a sense of cool. The film is very relaxed throughout, and the two indulgences of the title give you an impression of this. However, the relaxed nature of the film is also it's main drawback, as throughout the movie we are given the impression that it is half-assed. The fact that it's just a series of sketches, loosely tied together also gives this impression, as it much easier to write a few conversations than it is to make a proper film. Like Quentin Tarantino has done with all of his movies, Jarmusch has dressed this shallow movie up in a whole host of talent; and it does make the end result more enjoyable. Jarmusch regular Roberto Benigni appears in a forgettable short at the start of the film, and after that we see the likes of Iggy Pop, Steve Buscemi, Alfred Molina, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchette and Steve Coogan, among other. Seeing all these guys in a movie together is nice for a movie fan like myself…but I just cant help thinking that the movie doesn't seem to have any actual effort put into it; hence the low rating.
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Coffee and cigarettes for breakfast, lunch and dinner
raresbunea9 May 2006
Jim Jarmusch's 2003 Coffee and Cigarettes is a pastiche of habits, stereotypes, monotypes and common sense. It's black and white and it is like a chess table with 11 sugar cubes. Each sugar cube is an individual, totally independent vignette featuring actors caring their own names. Roberto Benigni is Roberto, Steven Wright is Steven, Cate Blanchett is Cate and her cousin in the same time, Bill Murray is billmurray (one word) in a secret life as a bartender. Yes, characters are talking about coffee and cigarettes, most likely and in rest about nothing. Could be Jarmusch a big Seinfeld fan? Roberto meets Steven and keeps calling him Steve. He ends up taking his appointment to the dentist and leaves. Steven is perplex. Buscemi babbles with the Lee twins about Elvis's secret evil twin. Iggy Pop and Tom Waits they both have quit smoking. Therefore they can handle just one more cigarette happening to be on the table. Vinny and Rigano have a energetic argument about how damaging smoking is. Both have a rusty gruff voice. E J Rodriguez, as a waiter, tries to hit on Renee French. He fails sumptuously. Alex Descas and Isaach de Bankole, Frenchmen and good old friends meet after a long time and it seems that they don't have a problem. Or do they? Cate Blanchett plays herself magnificently. Make he any hair-style and will look good on her. She is also her hippy cousin. Meg and Jack White, the White Stripes "brothers" (quotes because they're not brothers, or are they?) have a conversation, after 80 seconds of silence, about his tesla coil, an air transformer device. Meg turns out to be a co-star to Jack's genius. Than we have Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan as possible cousins based on Molina's genealogic investigations. Alfred is extremely deferential. Steve hides his condescending propensity. Steve thinks Alfred wants to take advantage of him. But Alfred is honest. But there is catch. In the end the two reverse positions. How about the Wu-Tang Clan? GZA and RZA talk about alternative medicine and how to perform a surgical procedure using an electric drill-gun. Tom Waits became a doctor too. Coffee cause serious delirium. Billmurray (one word) doesn't think so and drinks from the jar. RZA explains how nicotine interferes with the central nervous system. That's paralysis. And last but not least Taylor Mead, in the final scene lost his touch with the world. Bill Rice, his partner is concerned. They listen to an imaginary Mahler, in some backyard armory. Coffee is becoming champagne, Nikola Tesla pops out in the conversation again, and they ignore their age or their Parkinson and toast for the Moulin Rouge.

Coffee and cigarettes, that such an unhealthy combination! They all agree. We all agree. Jim Jarmusch's colorful interpretation is a celebration of life!
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Worthless, pretentious, and over-rated
vivatunataco17 May 2004
Coffee and Cigarettes was worthless, which is why I'm glad someone else paid for me to see it. If you actually liked this movie, I would love to talk to you, because you are just kidding yourself. You think it's cool to like movies that you don't understand, when really you don't understand them because they are crap and there's nothing there to understand. Here is a summary of Coffee and Cigarettes: The movie opens and it is shot in that terrible teen angst black and white that kids who can't take pictures like to photoshop their digital photos into because they think it will salvage an otherwise crappy color photo. It doesn't salvage s***, and it just made me realize that the movie was going to be pretentious crap, just like all those pretentious look-at-me-I- develop-my-own-pictures-in-black-and-white kids' pictures of kids playing in playgrounds photographed through the chain-links of the fence, with the links in focus. The movie is filled with a bunch of mini-scenes of mediocre B-list celebrities/actors having coffee and smoking cigarettes and talking about coffee and cigarettes and occasionally making a comment about how coffee and cigarettes isn't a very healthy lunch. It's artsy how they keep repeating the title. Oh, and it's artsy how all the tables are black and white checkered. 'Cause the movie is in black and white, get it? But wait. It's even more artsy to change the whole premise of the movie halfway through when the tables stop having black and white checkers and the coffee turns into tea and the cigarettes turn into one person smoking and the other commenting on how cigarettes are terrible. Oh, and I bet it would be artsy if we insert a scene where Jack and Meg White (they're hot right now - they have that hit new album that in retrospect no one really liked that much, but they wanted to like it to be alternative and artsy - oh, there's that artsy thing again) are playing with a Tesla Coil. Then, Jack should quote Tesla about the world being a conductor of audiophonic harmony because he's a musician. Then Meg white repeats the quote and hits a spoon on a coffee cup and it makes an annoying ringing noise and then she does it again and everyone is like "stop it." The movie carries on like this. The final scene is two old guys, both of which you've seen before but you're not quite sure where, talking about some piece of classical music. This is the scene where the movie tries to redeem itself by having some deeper underlying meaning. The one old guy says he wants to take a nap, then he just dies. The classical music plays, obviously, and the movie ends. Maybe he died from lung cancer, or caffeine overdose, is that the point? Pathetic. The only redeeming scenes in the movie are the scenes with Steve Coogan and Alfred Molina and Rza, Gza, and Bill Murray. But they are bookended by the most worthless, pretentious, art-rock, deeper-meaning, repetitive, awkward crap I've seen in a long time.
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A very mixed bag but fans of Jarmusch will enjoy it and it does have a certain curiosity value to cover the weaknesses
bob the moo22 April 2005
In hundreds of diners each day, people meet up for a chat, a cup of coffee and perhaps a cigarette. In this film we see a handful of such meetings involving all sorts – famous singers, cousins, twins, strangers or even just people by themselves. As in real life, the moods, aims and directions of each meeting are different and end different ways for the characters involved and, well, that's about as close to a "plot" summary as I can get! As a lover of short films I was looking forward to seeing this film because it seemed to be a collection of shorts made over quite a period, rather than being a collection of vignettes as in, say, Blue in the Face. However it quickly became evident that these segments would mostly not stand up on their own in the way a good short film would and they are much more just like sketches rather than shorts. Anyway, aside from the issue of definitions, this is still a very hit and miss affair with the majority being near-misses of half-hits, only a couple of them would I watch again on their own. Strange to Meet You is not that good; Twins is interesting and was a curiosity to me for having two of Spike Lee's siblings in it; Renee didn't do anything for me; No Problem was cool but pretty empty. However I did think that Somewhere in California was strong; Those Things Will Kill Ya was obvious but quite enjoyable; Cousins was interesting and engaging; Cousins? was sharp and enjoyable while Delirium was strangely comical although I probably enjoyed it more for the people than the content.

The cast do reasonably well within the material but I think some are better than others; as you might expect, I was more impressed with the acting in the shorts that I found most interesting – although I recognise that that is probably an unfair judgement of the performances. The direction is fairly static but also quite stylish and with a nice sense of place in each location; the black and white perhaps adds it more credibility but other than that I didn't see the reason other than maybe adding a consistency in colour that the material didn't provide.

Overall this is not as good as I had hoped but in fairness maybe I had my hopes unreasonably high. It does do what it claims to do by being a mixed collection of sketches; all of them are good enough to fill their short running times but not all of them are worth seeing. The weak ones and the good ones come pretty much 50/50 and you need to decide for yourself whether or not those odds make it worth your while. Fans of Jarmusch and "offbeat" films will likely enjoy it but I reckon the casual viewer may end up left a bit cold and unimpressed by it.
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AtticusDrew30 September 2006
I was hopeful that this film that was billed as a series of dark quirky comedic vignettes would be enjoyable. The all-star cast which included Steve Busceme and Tom Waites was impressive. Unfortunately the writing and directing failed to tap this talent. Scene after scene elapsed and I kept asking "Am I missing something?" Is there a hidden point? Is the lack of any coherent dialog the point? Was this merely a collection of gritty images from which the viewer was to impart his/her own point in a Rorschachian fashion? Consider the scene in which a young woman smokes, drinks coffee, and thumbs through a gun magazine. A waiter periodically comes by and anxiously (after an initial error in filling her cup) attempts to attend to her lack of needs. Where does this go? Nowhere. Does it foreshadow subsequent events? Not to my viewing. I was so baffled by the lack of entertainment in this film that I began looking for geometric designs on the table (there were many gratuitous overhead shots that added nothing to the film) that might give clues to the over-ridding theme, message, anything. I finally gave up after an hour. I'm sorry to say that I'm either a shallow cad for missing what must be obvious to an artist somewhere, but this rates as the worst film I've seen this year.
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Convenient, slow and self-indulgent.
Biohazed13 June 2006
Jim Jarmusch is a lucky man. His movies are anything but original in concept, the most memorable dialog is generally improvised by his actors, and his shooting style is slow, 2-dimensional and predictable. Even through all of this, he manages to net a cult following and is able to assemble all-star ensembles, such as with this film, "Coffee and Cigarettes." What started as a sub-par, decidedly "who cares" short film skit in the eighties, has ballooned into a much-too-lengthy farce on social interactions in diners and bars, featuring a handful of similar and droning bits all revolving around one topic: What you talk about over coffee and cigarettes. After the first bit, you get a feel for the rest of the film quickly: Awkward, dry banter full of esoteric references and cute statistics. After the third and fourth, you get that the interactions are awkward and playing off of the actors' real-life personas in an ironic way. It's like a knock-knock joke; Yes, Jim. We get it, but we're only laughing because of who's telling the joke--not who wrote it, and certainly not because of the joke itself. My recommendation for you, the potential viewer, is this: If you're a rabid fan of anyone appearing in the film, then go for it. Fast-forward to the bit containing Jack White or Iggy Pop, and don't bother watching the rest. Trust me on this one. Go to a diner and actually HAVE a conversation, instead. It'll be much more enlightening.
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Bad habits, worse conversation
elcopy21 June 2004
At its best "Coffee and Cigarettes" is a fun premise, with a constellation of stars with hip characters in hip locations. At its worse "Coffee and Cigarettes" is the worst improv you're going to see this side of amateur drama school.

Despite good stories by two old working class men and mafiosi, and great performances by a wide range of actors, comedians, rappers and rock stars, you'll be bored to tears with at least three-quarters of the whole movie. Some guidance by the director wouldn't have hurt. At least the most boring stories aren't that long.

This is a hipster film that had the potential of becoming a pop culture phenomenon. See it if just for thinking of all the possibilities that were missed.
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Gives new meaning to the word pretentious
Tecun_Uman7 November 2005
Man, this was foul! A bunch of trendy types sitting around, "trying" to act cool while they smoked cigarettes. It made me physically ill. Gee, you mean mindless conversation all of the sudden becomes entertaining and hip when you shoot it in black and white? Or when you talk with a poncey British accent? I mean, pretentious does not even go far enough. Seeing Jack White try to be funny, reading forced dialog while he smokes a cigarette like Rock Hudson in a Junior High play. Oh yeah, and the guy that was in Twentyfour Hour Party People" is recognized by anybody? There is no way I can get ten sentences in this review, because just writing this little bit about it has made me nauseous. Man, I cannot imagine how irritated I would have felt if I had been stupid enough to pay to see it at the theater.
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An uneven combination of wet paint and amusing conversation
konover19 October 2004
I like Independent movies. I like Jim Jarmusch. I really like that cast. And I really do enjoy coffee and cigarettes. So imagine my disappointment when I saw Steven Wright and Roberto Benigni struggling to improvise dialgoue in what was, amazingly, Jarmusch's choice for the opening act.

I took an acting class about 5 years ago, and this is exactly what the people in my class were doing. Improvising dialogue about nothing. And it shows. I cringed when I saw Wright and Roberto try to humor us by changing seats. This is why I went to acting class, so I wouldn't look this inept on the stage or on film.

With two or three exceptions, the rest of the vignettes in this 90-minute-or-so film are like watching paint dry.

I was particularly looking forward to Bill Murray's bit, but there wasn't very much for him to work with. Even a talented woman like Cate Blanchett can't do anything with her scene. It's overlong and loses interest a few minutes in.

Only two vignettes were worth watching: Iggy Pop and Tom Waits; and the best of the bunch: Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan. Molina runs away with the movie, (if it can even called that since it's basically a cadre of unrelated skits stringed together).

I think the idea for this film was a good one. But unfortunately, the conversation pieces in the skits are boring, consisting mostly of actors staring at each other while smoking a cigarette, drinking coffee and desperately trying to think of something meaningful or funny to say.

At one point, two men with French accents are having coffee and one is trying to extract information from the other. "What's wrong?" man #2 asked. "Nothing is wrong," replies man #1. And they go on like this for something like 10 minutes. You can tell Jarmusch didn't give any other direction except to tell man #2, "Try to find out what's wrong." and then tell man #1, "Don't tell him what's wrong. No matter what." These are like lessons in Acting 101.

It's more like a student film than something you should pay $20 or so to buy on DVD. If you rent it, I suggest watching the Iggy-Waits scene and the Molina-Coogan scene. Sure, give the movie a shot, but if you get up in arms, look for Iggy and Molina. If I had a DVD burner, I'd grab those two skits to keep. I highly advise against a blind purchase.
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Slow, but each segment is terribly interesting
NoArrow28 August 2005
Jim Jarmusch's "Coffee & Cigarettes" is like a good painting: it's interesting to look at, subtle, simple, and strangely enigmatic in that you think the point is hiding just under the surface. It is also funny, and "cool" in the Tom Waits/Michael Madsen sort of way.

It's about nothing in particular, a collection of short films all involving two or three people, sitting in a diner somewhere at lunch time, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee, and conversing over banalities. Each segment lasts about ten minutes or so, and is so interesting because they grab us with some really intriguing characters, people, and performances - and sometimes all three.

It's got one of the most diverse casts I've ever seen (Steve Coogan, Steve Buscemi, Bill Murray, Alfred Molina, Iggy Pop, Cate Blanchett, Meg White, Jack White, RZA, GZA, Tom Waits, Roberto Begnini and others still) but it's not uneven; we don't feel like we're jumping from one genre to the next, maybe because it feels a little like Jarmusch has sucked the life out of these genres. Each segment is very laid back, the characters either nonchalant or trying to appear that way, with some exceptions.

The opening segment has Steven Wright and Roberto Begnini, both equally incomprehensible. Then Steve Buscemi explaining conspiracy theories to Cinque and Joie Lee (the guy can play anyone). Then Iggy Pop and Tom Waits, who seem to only be visiting each other to have a contest in condescending (Waits wins). And so on and so forth.

Some astounding performances can be spotted, astounding because they're so understated. Cate Blanchett plays both herself and her jealous cousin, and deserved an Oscar nomination. Steve Coogan plays himself with Alfred Molina, and it's fun to see how Coogan tries to control the conversation, then gets thrown for a loop. Bill Murray is, naturally, gut-busting funny.

Behind it all we sense the artist's hand, lathering on layer after enigmatic layer. Cheers to Jarmusch, who managed to pull together such a diverse cast and extract perfection from all of them.

It's not a great movie, it's not important, but it is fun, and cool, and interesting to watch around lunch time, with some coffee.

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Embarrassingly Bad
fritzoid24 June 2004
Not since Alex Cox's "Straight to Hell" have I had such a shoddy, amateurish work put before me by a director whose work I otherwise like.

I'm a believer that there are no bad concepts, just bad execution, so while it may have been possible to make a good movie using Jarmusch's structure and theme, this is not that movie. Two minutes' worth of concept was regularly dragged out to ten minutes. The dialogue was half-considered, if that. Vignettes ground painfully away towards some ill-conceived, inane "punchline". The performers, even granted that they had little to work with, were visibly floundering; given that they were for the most part playing themselves, they never came across as people who actually existed, or that they had any reason to talk to the people playing opposite them; most often, they couldn't even convince me that they had ever actually drank coffee before. Only Cate Blanchett walks away from this car-wreck with any dignity intact.

I'm normally quite generous in my ratings, but this movie was simply insultingly bad. Jarmusch should have kept the only print locked away in a vault, with instructions that it be burnt following his death.

2/10, and that's only because I smiled when Bill Murray drank straight from the pot.
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brilliant movie basically its only about coffee and sigarettes but man what movie
drankula3 December 2004
I really like this movie. There is no real storyline but man the conversations people have when enjoying coffee and cigarettes..... they are brilliant. I liked every story and especially some characters are really great (Iggy pop). It is difficult for me to explain what I like about it but you have to see for yourself I guess. Somehow it has the same kind of humor as Seinfeld (there is no storyline) the movie focuses on somewhat pointless but very funny conversations.

The ingredients are so simple (coffee and cigarettes) and the result is really stunning. The only thing thats striking about the conversations is that some mind games are being played between the actors. Especially the story between two guys who meet up after a couple of years.
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Warning - This film can seriously damage your health.
IceColdCube4 January 2005
Jim Jarmusch disappointingly falls short with his latest offering of Coffee and Cigarettes.

Although visually attractive and with a great cast to support, the series of shorts unfortunately are let down by the series of poor scripts.

On first viewing I found myself fast forwarding through the film, looking for "the good parts", though really I didn't give it a chance .... Then with time to spare, I gave it another go. There were a couple of highlights, fans of Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge, 24 Hour Party People), will enjoy the 'cousins?' conversation with Alfred Molina (Chocolat, Spiderman 2). And Iggy Pop gives an amusing performance playing himself in the company of the intimidating Tom Waits.

Maybe this would have worked better as individual shorts, shown over a duration of weeks "Jim Jarmusch Presents", rather than as a complete collection.

As a whole it just didn't work as a film ... JJs worst effort to date.

You'll need more than Coffee and Cigarettes to stay awake through this one.

For more insight into the reasons behind the film, you maybe interested in this article.
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