Saturday, August 28, 2010

Coffee and Cigarettes

Coffee and Cigarettes; Comedy, USA, 2003; D: Jim Jarmusch, S: Roberto Benigni, Steven Wright, Steve Buscemi, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Isaach De Bankole, Cate Blanchett, Mike Hogan, Jack White, Alfred Molina, Steve Coogan, Bill Murray, RZA, GZA

"Coffe and Cigarettes" is a compilation of 11 short films which Jim Jarmusch passingly directed during a course of 17 years. The first three segments are a bravura example of rusticate simplicity and radiate with spirit, inspiration and humor. In the first, called "Strange to Meet You", Roberto Benigni sympathetically plays a wacky guy. His colleague Steven remarks how he would like to freeze coffee into lollipops because he likes it so much, and subsequently requests him to go to his dentist meeting instead of him (!), upon which he agrees. In "Twins", Steve Buscemi plays a waiter who tells two twins a hilarious story about the twin brother of Elvis Presley who took over his role.

"Somewhere in California" is probably the best segment: Iggy Pop and Tom Waits affray in some bar by remarking that they can not find the songs of the other in a jukebox. An irresistible story. "Those Things'll Kill Ya" is, on the other hand, a weaker story. It is still good, but inferior to the first three that turned out like some excellent "Seinfeld" episode, philosophizing about nothing, and yet still having something about them. "Renee" is a pointless episode about a girl drinking coffee and browsing a magazine. "No Problem" is slightly better, but still too thin for comfort, whereas in the solid "Cousins" Cate Blanchett stars in a double role as her own (fictional) cousin. The Tesla episode is all right, but the next truly good chapter shows up only with "Cousins?", where an enthusiastic Alfred Molina is trying to persuade the cold Steve Coogan that they are cousins. At first, Coogan acts like a prima donna, but the story ends with a comic twist. "Delirium" is easily watchable mostly thanks to Bill Murray's interaction with hip-hop artists GZA and RZA whereas the final episode that concludes the film, "Champagne", is unfortunately weak. All in all, "Coffee and Cigarettes" are like a chat with friends in a cafee: some are tiresome, but there is always someone who comes up with a genius joke.


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