Sunday, January 20, 2013

Coffee And Cigarettes (Jim Jarmusch, 2003)

   After reading Alex over at And So It Begins...'s review of this film, I finally decided to check it out. Besides, I'd only seen Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise up until then and wanted to see if the rest of his filmography held up as strong as Paradise. Does it? So far, I'll have to say no. This is not to say that Coffee And Cigarettes is in any way a flop. It's a good film overall, though some of the segments are extremely lacking.

   Fun Fact: Did you know that this film was shot over the course of 17 years? The first segment was shot in 1986 and the last in 2003, the same year of the film's release. As an aspiring actor, I wonder whether I'd have the patience to wait so many years for a project that I worked on to see the light of day as a feature-film.

  The film is comprised of 11 segments, of which I only love 6 to pieces. I somewhat like 3 others and hate 2.


Featuring Spike Lee's siblings, Joie Lee and Cinque Lee, this segment is about a pair of twins who continuously bicker, agree and disagree with each other. The highlight of the segment is in the appearance of Steve Buscemi as the twins' waiter who recounts his conspiracy theory of Elvis Presley having being replaced by his twin brother. Then, the twins shift the story to mention Elvis Presley's apparent racism and prejudice, something which sends Buscemi into a quite comical denial. I loved the bickering/competition between the twins and Buscemi in yet another scene-stealing role.

Those Things'll Kill Ya
A really hilarious segment where two men accuse each other of being too addicted to smoking or to coffee, respectively . Amidst their banter is one of the men's silent son who obtains money from his father under the pretense that he will then hug the father, something which he does not do. Instead, he obtains some sort of Japanese snacks with the money and pranks the other man into tasting the snacks, which are apparently an acquired taste. 

Ok, admittedly, this segment provides nothing to the obscure theme of the film. There is nothing going on besides the actress, Renee French, being continuously interrupted by her over-eager waiter while she is flipping through a gun magazine and looking damn fine. This is shallow, but this is exactly why I love this segment. Renee French is absolutely gorgeous and, in such a quiet role, you are able to sense the dangerous aura surrounding her. She is a femme fatale.  I couldn't take my eyes off of her. Too bad you can't find shit about her on the Internet. Shame. 

Cate Blanchett is a formidable actress. Playing a version of herself as a sophisticated and poised actress, she participates in awkward discourse with her more 'laxed and unrefined cousin. The two characters are so drastically different that it is shocking to realize that they come from the same actress. I was also able to relate to this segment because I've had those awkward conversations with cousins who secretly despise me for being too polite, which to them perhaps translates as me being uppity. Go figure.

Hands down the best segment in this film. The shift in power towards the end is one of the best revenge plots of all time. I'm not going to spoil much about this one because it truly is special. Alfred Molina plays the role of the desperate man looking for a connection extremely well, while Steve Coogan makes being a pompous ass a real art form.

A funny segment featuring the unlikely trio of Wu-Tang Clan's GZA and RZA with Bill Murray. RZA's passion for alternative medicine is discussed to hilarity, at one point having RZA comparing medicine and music as two planets circling around the same sun. Yeah. And while Bill Murray playing himself is trying to go incognito and asks for the Clan's help, the two agree yet continue to refer to him as "Bill Groundhog Day Ghost-Busting Ass Murray". The funniest segment by far.


Strange To Meet You
The earliest filmed segment of the film and the only one I could not make heads or tails out of. But it carries enough of Jarmusch's bizarre humor to make it a nice watch. 

Somewhere In California
Yeah, you can sense the awkwardness. I liked this plot of this segment, with the absurdity of two smokers who say they've quit but are allowed to smoke whenever because they've quit. But, I didn't care for either character.

The concluding segment and a nice way to end the film on a sad note. It's not as nice as my favorites, but I do think it was the best way to end the film with an old man losing his sense of time and taking a nap.


No Problem
The worst segment by far. You have a friend continuously asking the other why he called him over. The second friend replies that everything is fine, while the first continues to accuse his friend of having a problem that he won't disclose. All that nagging got on my nerves, along with the truly amateur performances from the actors. It also does not help that this segment is smack dab in the middle of the film. It makes it feel like the film is dragging on.

Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil
At least the former segment got an emotion out of me (however bad). This one is the most worthless segment. The title pretty much explains the plot. Even the sparks from the Tesla coil are not enough to give momentary brilliance to this segment. Also, Meg's acting is even worse than the above two actors. Just look at the gif. Very amateur. This is just a bland segment.

The recurring things  in the film are people denouncing coffee and cigarettes as constituting a bad lunch. And a quote about Tesla's theory that appears in two segments (Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil and Champagne). And, duh, coffee and cigarettes (though some segments replace coffee with tea). Overall, I liked this film and am willing to check out more of Jarmusch's films.

Ludovico Rating

3/5. I would watch this again. But, being honest, I would skip some segments.

Gorgeous Renee French. Ugh, who is she???


  1. Looks like we're pretty much in line here. You liked Renee a little more than I did, but fair enough. No Problem and The White Stipes segments do nothing for me. But so many others are priceless.

    Also, thanks for the link!

    1. Yeah, my reasons for liking Renee are shallow. And No Problem is my least favorite by far.

      You're welcome, Alex.