An ensemble cast stars in Jim Jarmusch's collection of short stories called Coffee and Cigarettes. The movie began with a short film that aired on "Saturday Night Live" in 1987, and now, after fifteen years, Jarmusch has compiled a variety of conversations based around coffee and cigarettes for our viewing pleasure. Unfortunately, just like "SNL" of late, the movie runs dry long before it reaches the closing credits.
Coffee and Cigarettes starts off with "Strange to Meet You," the original film that was shot for "SNL." Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright star in this story and it is pretty funny. Benigni is especially good. "Twins," which features Steve Buscemi, has its moments but is nothing special. "Somewhere in California" lacks much entertainment, while "Renee" is cute in a quiet kind of way. "Those Things'll Kill Ya" is a little funnier as it revolves around two old mobsters (?) arguing about the health value of coffee and cigarettes. I fast forwarded through "No Problem" as I was already beginning to lose interest and "Jack Shows Meg His Tesla" is just strange. I completely skipped over "Champagne" and "Cousins," featuring two characters played by Cate Blanchett, was a little too dramatic for my taste.
"Cousins?" (note the question mark in the title) is the funniest of all of the skits, as Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan play themselves. Molina has been doing some genealogy research and has learned that he and Coogan are distant relatives; as excited as he is, Coogan could care less. I loved the performances by both men, although I was a little confused as Coogan seemed to be treated as the more popular star - when I wouldn't even had known who he was if not for previews for Around the World in 80 Days. Anyway, this skit is worth it.
Coffee and Cigarettes ends with Delirium, which has Bill Murray playing himself as a waiter at a cheap restaurant. This skit has its moments, but never really capitalizes on any of the actors involved.
The movie is quirky and very talky, so those who like even a little bit of movement out of the actors should stay clear. The movie is most definitely an art house film and while there is nothing specifically bad about it, the overall movie is a bit much too watch all in one sitting. If you watch the skits over a couple of days you'd probably enjoy them more than I did.
Coffee and Cigarettes has an interesting concept, but in the end isn't interesting enough to appeal to most audiences. There are those out there, though, who will surely love this movie and the stories within.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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