Movie Poster
Coffee and Cigarettes
Jim Jarmusch
Roberto Benigni, Steven J. Wright, Steve Buscemi, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits
96 min.


Cool: Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Steve Coogan, Steven Wright, Cate Blanchett, Alfred Molina, Bill Murray.

Not cool: The White Stripes.

Also present are GZA, RZA and Roberto Benigni, though I'm not sure where they stand thermally.

Coffee and Cigarettes belies its compilative origin, steadfastly refusing to hang together as a whole. The film is a series of vignettes in which two to three of the celebrities named above (and several others) drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and engage in small talk. Some of these are interesting (Steve Coogan/Alfred Molina, GZA/RZA/Bill Murray, Iggy Pop/Tom Waits), some are entertaining solely for the people they have in them (Steve Buscemi), and some are just boring and unnecessary (the one in which Renee French gets repeatedly hit on by her waiter). Many fall somewhere in between, having one or two moderately funny jokes per skit. To be fair, the White Stripes one is reasonably entertaining, and it does have the best soundtrack (Stooges' "Down on the Street").

Though the episodes are entirely separate from one another there are recurring themes, lines that show up in several, self-referential jokes. Some of these give Coffee and Cigarettes a repetitive feel, as nearly every segment ends with the remaining character staring off into space for thirty seconds. Every segment also seems to have some line about coffee and cigarettes being an unhealthy lunch. These are kind of dull. However, the GZA/RZA/Bill Murray one plays this (more successfully) as a joke: their conversation cops big chunks almost word for word from Iggy Pop/Tom Waits and Steven Wright/Roberto Benigni.

The cinematography is typically nice, the soundtrack is pretty good (Stooges, Richard Berry's Louie Louie, Funkadelic. But, to be honest, I've always hated the Iggy Pop Louie Louie they have over the closing credits.), the credits are classy. But Coffee and Cigarettes is pretty slight. Aside from a few jokes, there's really very little to it. Good for a couple laughs, but you kind of hope for more from, admittedly inconsistent, Jim Jarmusch.

I'm not sure if it was attached to the film, or if Lagoon Cinema just thought it would be cool to add, but by far the best part of the movie was the vintage John Waters no smoking ad between the trailers and the feature.

Pat Jackson