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Coffee & Cigarettes (Jim Jarmusch)

Coffee and Cigarettes

Coffee & Cigarettes (2003, Jim Jarmusch)

Jim Jarmusch is the surrealist-absurdist black-and-white hipster king of indie moviemaking. His movies don’t always make a whole lot of sense, and require more attention than the average Hollywood movie fan has, but they are always eye candy and if you pay attention (and enjoy counter-pop-culture), you will be rewarded.

Coffee and Cigarettes is no exception. It has no plot–literally, this time. It’s a series of vignettes with a variety of film and music icons (Iggy Pop, Bill Murray, Tom Waits, Meg and Jack White of the White Stripes, RZA and GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, and Cate Blanchett, to name a few standouts) and minor players (an IMDB search on some of them turns up stints as production assistants on “Fishing With John,” just in case you thought that PA job was never going to get you anywhere) sharing coffee and cigarettes. At first, this appears to be all that the shorts have in common, aside from Jarmusch’s signature black-and-white photography, but as the movie goes on, certain motifs are repeated.

Coffee and cigarettes are staples of the hipster diet, but this movie pokes fun at pretentious movie stars and rock stars, laughing at their professed knowledge of medicine and science and their need to one-up each other. The stars all play themselves, in exaggeration. Iggy Pop and Tom Waits share cigarettes while quietly putting each other down, and Cate Blanchett turns in the best performance of the film, playing herself and her own cousin, who is unsure of how to deal with Cate’s fame. By far the funniest appearance, however, is Bill Murray’s.

I can’t tell if people will like this film. Judging by the amount of people who walked out of the screening, not everyone enjoyed it nearly as much as I did. If you like Jarmusch, are a fan of any of the rock stars named above, or enjoy subtle, layered humor, you should enjoy it.

coffee and cigarettes opens may 28 at Landmark Theatre – go to for showtimes.


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