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Coffee and Cigarettes

Starring a whole messa stars
Written and Directed by Jim Jarmusch
website: www.coffeeandcigarettesmovie.com

IN SHORT: Consider it a personal film festival -- a great one. [Rated R for Language. 100 minutes]

Coffee and Cigarettes is comprised of eleven short films running back to back and starring: Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright; Joie Lee, Cinqué Lee and Steve Buscemi; Iggy Pop and Tom Waits; Joe Rigano, Vinny Vella and Vinny Vella, Jr.; Renée French and E. J. Rodriguez; Isaach de Bankolé and Alex Descas; Cate Blanchett; Jack White, Meg White and Cinqué Lee; Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan; GZA, RZA and Bill Murray; and Taylor Mead and Bill Rice.

That would be a mouthful to say if we were writing for television. Thankfully we're not and can summarize writer/director Jim Jarmusch's concoction with very few words. In reality, a diet of coffee and cigarettes is not very good for you. On the big screen, however, it is a setup for a most enjoyable time in the dark and one of the best films we've seen this year. That's a strange thing to write about a film which labors gently, but obviously, to link all of its segments with overhead shots of coffee cups on a table. All of the individual segments are so well written and enjoyable to watch that the linking shot becomes more and more of a distraction as the film plays out.

While all the segments are fiction, many are written so close to the bone that they carry even more weight and humor. Take, for instance, "Cousins" in which starving actor Alfred Molina uses a detailed family tree to introduce himself to a distantly related hot star of the moment, Steve Coogan. Coogan's film 24 Hour Party People is, if you didn't see it as it flared on the arthouse circuit, well worth seeking out. Now, of course, Molina is the hot star and Coogan has faded to, at least here in the States, obscurity. Of the other segments, Cate Blanchett does double duty as a rising movie star and (her) jealous, look alike cousin; Iggy Pop and Tom Waits hang out in the kind of dive Waits loves to write about. Both check to see if their tunes are on the jukebox (heh heh heh); RZA and GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan share the screen with Bill Murray; Jack and Meg White of the White Stripes put Nikola Tesla's theories of electric generation to the test. Other segments run the gamut of genre and ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Come to think of it, the musicians featured in the film all have their own blankets of obscurity to hide under. Covering several generations of fave rave of the moment, each has found chart success and slipped back to the ol' working class musician status, just proving that music is as much a job as any other occupation seen in the film, which begins with Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright discussing how coffee is a great beverage to drink just before bedtime.

If you don't get the joke in that, you'll miss the point of Coffee and Cigarettes. If you raise an eyebrow, you'll find this fine piece of work worth searching out -- especially since most of the crowds this week will be online at a summer multimillion dollar blockbuster.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Coffee and Cigarettes, he would have paid . . .

$9.00

Great cast and great stories. Worth every penny

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.