• James Rutherford

'Coffee and Cigarettes': Jim Jarmusch's Droll and Amusing Anthology of Coffee-Time Encounters


Movie poster for the Jim Jarmusch film Coffee and Cigarettes

Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) is a ranging and entertaining anthology of eleven short stories set in coffee shops, diners, homes, and other varying establishments—the common theme being caffeine and nicotine habitude. The film stars an eclectic cast of performers who engage in two and three-way exchanges, often playful in their musings and interplay.


The opening trio of stories were originally crafted and released as independent short films: Strange to Meet You starring Steven Wright and Roberto Benigni coming in 1986, Twins starring Joie Lee, Cinqué Lee and Steve Buscemi following in 1989, and Somewhere in California featuring Iggy Pop and Tom Waits released in 1993. Eventually eight additional stories were filmed and amalgamated with the original three to create the feature length feature we have here. Highlights include Cate Blanchett portraying herself as well as her cousin in Cousins, Jack and Meg White of The White Stripes together in Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil and GZA and RZA of Wu-Tang Clan surprised to find their coffeehouse waiter to be none other than Bill Murray in Delirium.


Written and directed by indie stalwart Jim Jarmusch (Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Only Lovers Left Alive) Coffee and Cigarettes delivers a diverse assortment of interpersonal encounters, each story laconic and perceptive in its own particular manner. Shot entirely in black and white, Jarmusch's film explores human joys, eccentricities and diversions through his patently unique style—often deadpan and simmering with restless humor. Quintessential Jarmusch in every way, the various vignettes carry an air of wistfulness along the 96 minutes of running time, making it a succinct and fanciful foray into the lighter side of human interaction.

 

Watch the trailer: