Coffee and Cigarettes (USA)

directed by: Jim Jarmusch
starring: Cate Blanchette; Alfred Molina; Steve Coogan
Coffee and Cigarettes
Diane says: "Found most of this tedious. Maybe because I don't like coffee _or_ cigarettes? I enjoyed three or four of the eleven conversations: the closing one with Rice and Mead listening to an imagined Mahler lied (Beckett-like), the great facial expressions on Molina and Coogan as each tries to impress the other, the hilarious trio of Bill Murray, RZA, and GZA. Unlike others, I thought Iggy Pop was perfect! 2 cats.
Michael says: "Jim Jarmusch entertains with his collection of eleven short films about... you guessed it, coffee and cigarettes, that has been in the works for the past 17 years. Starting off with a stilted piece involving Roberto Begnini and Steven Wright, COFFEE AND CIGARETTES picks up the pace as it proceeds, with later installments feeling much more planned and coherent. It's as if Jarmusch filmed the first few segments without a concrete idea of what they would be for, then after deciding that taken collectively the pieces would make an intriguing film, spent more time shaping each piece into a singular film.

Tom Waits gives the standout performance in the first half, but his partner in dialogue, Iggy Pop, fares less well, which undercuts the overall effectiveness of their segment. At about the halfway mark, Cate Blanchett shows her considerable acting chops in a piece that pokes fun at her own status as an actor. Blanchett plays herself and her sister Shelby, as the two meet for the first time in two years in a hotel lobby. The usual cheesy split screen tactics are absent, and Cate's timing is remarkable, with Shelby taking advantage of Cate's chameleonic acting style.

From there, the segments continue to please. An adorable scene with Jack and Meg White, of the musical phenomenon White Stripes, discussing a tesla coil is simple and wonderfully executed. Bill Murray brings his wacky comedic charm to full bear as he receives health lessons from GZA and RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. Perhaps the strongest scene is also one of the funniest, as Alfred Molina meets fellow Brit-actor Steve Coogan (24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE). As an almost painfully embarassing conversation nears its end, an amusing twist sends the piece on its ear. And the closing segment between William Rice and Taylor Mead as two elderly laborers is so amazingly charming and so fitting to wrap up the film.

I have only seen one other Jarmusch film (NIGHT ON EARTH) but now plan on checking out some of his other features. After a slow start, COFFEE AND CIGARETTES was a surprisingly good time. 3 1/2 cats"
Tom says: "Uneven but in the end entertaining"
Carolyn says: "It picked up the pace more as it went along. I liked how the last couple sketches repeated lines from the earlier ones. 3 ½ cats"
Bruce says: "COFFEE AND CIGARETTES consists of eleven vignettes involving improvisational conversations over coffee (or tea) and cigarettes. Sometimes I get impatient during a film and start looking at my watch to see how much longer I must endure whatever is going on up on the screen. Watching COFFEE AND CIGARETTES I had ten such experiences. The one departure was the delightful vignette with Cate Blanchett and Cate Blanchett. (That’s not a typo – she plays herself and her ne’er do well cousin.)

"The sad aspect of COFFEE AND CIGARETTES is that I like most of the actors, the very big exception being Roberto Benigni. It was great fun seeing veteran New York way-off-Broadway actor Bill Rice on screen as it was Iggy Pop, both of whom I have seen on stage. Issach De Bankolé (Claire Denis’ CHOCOLAT, NIGHT ON EARTH, HOW TO MAKE LOVE TO A NEGRO WITHOUT GETTING TIRED) and Alfred Molina (PRICK UP YOUR EARS, LETTER TO BREZHNEV, FRIDA) are two actors who have appeared in some of my favorite films.

"None of the actors are given much to do and almost all of the vignettes are self-deprecating to a certain extent. Jarmusch seems more than lazy with his inability to utilize talent to a greater extent. Squandered talent always triggers negative criticism on my part and this film is no exception. In spite of myself I had a big chuckle over the Evil Twin vignette. 1 cat