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Kevin Hernandez
Kevin Hernandez

Coffee And Cigarettes (2003)



Coffee and Cigarettes is the title of three short films and a 2003 feature-length anthology film by independent film director Jim Jarmusch. The feature film consists of 11 short stories which share coffee and cigarettes as a common thread, and includes the earlier three short films.




Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)


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This is the original 1986 short Coffee and Cigarettes with Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright having a conversation about coffee and cigarettes. Steven tells Roberto about his coffee ideas, such as freezing it into "caffeine Popsicles" for kids, and how he likes to drink coffee right before he goes to sleep so he can dream faster "like a camera on those Indy 500 cars". Roberto does not understand anything he says but is entertained to listen. They experiment with switching chairs, but decide to switch back again. Steven suddenly remembers he has a dentist appointment that he is afraid to go to, but has to. Roberto happily volunteers and goes instead of him.


Filmed in 1993 as the short Coffee and Cigarettes - Somewhere in California, and won the Short Film Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.[3] In this segment musicians Iggy Pop and Tom Waits smoke cigarettes to celebrate that they quit smoking, drink some coffee and make awkward conversation. At various points each musician remarks that the other is not on the jukebox, though Iggy Pop's music can be heard on a jukebox in another segment later in the film.


Joseph Rigano and Vinny Vella have a conversation over coffee about the dangers of smoking. The silent Vinny Vella Jr. also appears to beg his father for money, which is given in exchange for affection, which is not provided.


Renée French (played by herself) drinks coffee while looking through a gun magazine. E. J. Rodríguez plays the waiter, who is eager to be of service. He initially approaches her to serve more coffee, to which she reacts by saying "I had the right color, right temperature, it was just right". After that, he comes back several times, hesitates, and leaves. He seems intent on striking up a conversation with her.


Alex Descas and Isaach De Bankolé are a couple of friends who meet and talk over some coffee and cigarettes. Alex has no problems, or so he answers to Isaach's repeated questioning. At the end of the scene, Alex takes out a pair of dice and rolls three sets of doubles. It could be assumed that he has a gambling problem but to him it appears to be a non-issue. Despite this, he doesn't roll the dice in front of his friend.


Cate Blanchett plays herself and a fictional and non-famous cousin named Shelly, whom she meets over some coffee in the lounge of a hotel. There is no smoking in the lounge, as the waiter informs Shelly (but not until Cate is gone). Shelly tells Cate about her boyfriend, Lee, who is in a band. She describes the music style as hard industrial, similar to the band Iggy describes. Cate tells Shelly she looks forward to meeting "Lou" someday. Cate is made to feel awkward and uncomfortable by Shelly's constant envious remarks about how she perceives Cate's life and attitude.


Features Jack and Meg White of the band The White Stripes having some coffee and cigarettes. They play themselves, although the scene seems to perpetuate the band's former pretense that they are indeed siblings. Jack shows Meg his Tesla coil that he says he built himself and waxes intellectual on the achievements of Nikola Tesla. In the beginning, Jack seems upset that Meg doesn't share his excitement, and it takes Meg some coaxing to get Jack to agree to show Meg his Tesla coil. He introduces the line, "Nikola Tesla perceived the earth to be a conductor of acoustical resonance." Cinqué Lee plays a waiter in this segment. In the end, the coil breaks, and Meg and the Waiter offer suggestions as to why it might be broken. Finally Meg says something that Jack seems to agree to, and he leaves to "go home and check it out". Meg clinks her coffee cup to produce a ringing noise, pauses, says "Earth as a conductor of acoustical resonance" and clinks her coffee cup to produce the noise again; she looks pensively out into the distance before a cut to black. Early during the segment, "Down on the Street" by Iggy Pop's band The Stooges is played on the jukebox in the background.


Hip-hop artists (and cousins) GZA and RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan drink naturally caffeine-free herbal tea and have a conversation with the waiter, Bill Murray, about the dangers of caffeine and nicotine. During this conversation GZA makes a reference to how he would drink much coffee before going to bed so his dreams would "whip by" similar to the camera-shots at the Indy 500, very similar to the same reference that Steven Wright did in the first segment. Murray requests that GZA and RZA keep his identity secret, while GZA and RZA inform Murray about nontraditional methods to relieve his smoker's hack.


William "Bill" Rice and Taylor Mead spend their coffee break having a nostalgic conversation, whilst Janet Baker singing "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" from Mahler's Rückert-Lieder appears from nowhere. William Rice repeats Jack White's line, "Nikola Tesla perceived the earth as a conductor of acoustical resonance." It is possible to interpret the relevance of this line to the constant recurrent themes throughout the seemingly unconnected segments.


Coffee And Cigarettes is a collection of eleven films from cult director Jim Jarmusch. Each film hosts star studded cast of extremely unique individuals who all share the common activities of conversing while drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.


3 stars for the first few middling segments, but everything from twin (cousin) Blanchetts through Jack White's Tesla Coil, THE PERFECT segment with Molina and Coogan ("And I want... you to love me"), the absurdist bit with Billy Murray and RZA /GZA, and that heartbreaking final coffee break is all 5-star A+ would see again and again and again (and with some of these i have) stuff.


Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes is one of Jarmusch's lesser acclaimed works, but it is also his most misunderstood. On the outside, Coffee and Cigarettes looks like a mere anthology film that is only connected by the idea of people having some coffee and cigarettes. One could easily just see it as "Jim Jarmusch gets together with his famous friends and makes a bunch of shorts".


Jim Jarmusch has been working on "Coffee and Cigarettes" for so long that when he started the project, you could still smoke in a coffee shop. The idea was to gather unexpected combinations of actors and, well, let them talk over coffee and cigarettes. He began with the short film "Coffee and Cigarettes I," filmed in 1986, before we knew who Roberto Benigni was (unless we'd seen Jarmusch's "Down By Law"). Benigni the verbal hurricane strikes the withdrawn Steven Wright and is so eager to do him a favor that he eventually goes to the dentist for him.


The structure -- smoking and drinking -- provides all the explanation we need for the meetings, although sometimes the actors seem to smoke a little too self-consciously and Murray drinks his coffee straight from the pot. The prize for virtuosity goes to Cate Blanchett, who plays a dual role: herself and her cousin. As herself, she is the movie star Cate Blanchett. As her cousin, she is quietly envious of Cate's success and feels patronized when Cate gives her some perfume -- a bottle, she correctly guesses, that the star just received as a freebie.


Sometimes movies tire us by trying too relentlessly to pound us with their brilliance and energy. Here is a movie pitched at about the energy level of a coffee break. That the people are oddly assorted and sometimes very strange is not so very unusual, considering some of the conversations you overhear in Starbucks.


Such a notion is embodied within the films elements of mise-en-scene and the context of conversations where Jarmusch depicts the characters confronting the premise of equality in a casual conversation. Also, an anxiety of the modern man was highlighted in William Ian Millers presentation Eating (with) Lords: The Bright Side of Eating is Its Dark Side where the gesture of food begs for return, along with added politeness between both parties, and thus can create a debt beyond that value of food as the gesture requires less tangible additions upon the value. In connection with the film, the characters are not operating upon such a gesture but the notion of equality or shared social status between the two can create tension where no debt is indicated but the focus upon politeness between celebrities. Lastly, coffee and cigarettes are of little sustenance and are generally regarded as break time habits. Jarmusch emphasizes this notion as he begs the question of why any of us even attempt to initiate a conversation based solely on aesthetics and politeness.


The first scene of this closed reading is titled Somewhere in California, an allusion to the cultural climate of celebrities in the state, where the two characters, Tom Waits and Iggy Pop, are both noted as published musicians. However he notion that Tom Waits is a doctor gives him somewhat of a moral high ground as he appears to be offended late in the conversation and thus violates the sacred notion of equality in casual small talk (Gaudio, 685). Specifically, an investigation of the on screen elements and the form of the frame throughout the scene highlights criticisms and insights of the director as he operates nearly exclusively in his auteur style. The establishing shot here illustrates Iggy Pop as initially weary and somewhat confrontational with the setting of the dim lit diner-like atmosphere. As Iggy grimaces and comments that Toms work isnt in the jukebox, along with a disco ball accenting the lighting, one can perceive that the setting calls attention to the American work ethic where creative expression is given little thought. Also, the use of a checkerboard (black and white in color), which appears in each and every scene, lends itself to the difference in personalities between the two characters and offers a self reflexive insight into the film being black and white itself. As for the frame presented, most shots that occur during the conversation appear as an outside subjective perspective with eye line matches that lack a directional eye contact to indicate a participating party. This presents audience with visual stress as if one is thrown into the perspective of a character in the scene without any possibility of interaction. Also, the crane shot of Iggy pouring coffee is the indication of distance and removal from the conversation and is thus a comment on the lack of focus of the conversation and continues into the close up of their hesitant handshake and further highlights the physical void between the characters and thus their respective personas that appear not to mix at all. All such elements operate to create empathy with Iggys character where his intentions are generally viewed as innocent. 041b061a72


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