Coffee and Cigarettes is a quirky and amusing film by Jim Jarmusch. It’s divided up into about a dozen segments; each one features a couple of people sitting in a cafe, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and talking. The segments are mostly unrelated, but some themes and even dialogue recur throughout the film. It’s fun seeing so many famous faces in such a downbeat film — there are players from acting’s A-list (Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray), musicians old and new (Iggy Pop, the White Stripes and others) and one or two that I had never heard of.
Some of the conversations are hilariously awkward. My favourite of these was an enthusiastic Iggy Pop talking to a paranoid Tom Waits — Iggy Pop is always amusing in his naive, eager way. Steve Coogan condescending to Alfred Molina was also brilliant — this was one of the few segments that actually has a punchline — the tables are turned and you almost expect Coogan to say, “Curses — foiled again!”
Cate Blanchett is good in both her roles — though it’s probably not much of a stretch for her to play a famous celebrity called “Cate”. In contrast, it didn’t surprise me that Meg White is not much of an actor. Maybe it’s just that I’ve always thought she looks a bit scary.
I would like to see more of the segment where RZA and GZA (rappers from the Wu-Tang Clan) admonish Bill Murray about his coffee addiction. You could almost see a sitcom spinoff.
The whole feature is filmed in arty black and white — black for coffee and white for cigarettes, you see? — with a lot of overhead shots of chequered tablecloths, coffee cups and ashtrays.. It’s a beautiful film that would look great projected on a blank wall at your next sophisticated late-night cocktail party. I’m still not convinced that coffee and cigarettes go well together in real life, but they do in this film.