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‘Coffee and Cigarettes’ 2004/08/20

Posted by Dave in Movies, nights out, Reviews.
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Last night, Ruth and I popped along to the UGC multi-storey multiplex cinema on Renfield & Bath at 19:00 to see the 'Coffee and Cigarettes' Jarmusch movie.

We quite enjoyed this funny wee film; it was certainly different! Shot in monochrome throughout, it's just a sequence of sketches. Always at a table in one coffee shop or another, it was shot over a great many years as an on-going side-project.

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The pace is deliberately slow, and the inter-relationships bizarre. Jarmusch has managed to ask celebs. to meet for coffee and cigarettes, act slightly larger than life, but make their scenes essentially empty and pointless — or maybe worthless. An unnervingly nervous Roberto Benigni and laid-back-dude Steven Wright kick it off well, leaving the audience wondering about just about everything!

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I loved the surprising and hilarious Tom Waits and Iggy Pop sketch, which was probably the most amusing next to Bill Murray-and-'The Wu-Tang Clan's' coffee and cigarettes versus health and tea one.

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It took me a wee while to understand that Cate Blanchett played BOTH roles in her sketch… which was somehow painfully honest — but perhaps not as squirmily so as the one where Alfred Molina arranges a meeting with Steve Coogan, where the shift in dominance is wonderfully palpable.

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The terminally messy 'White Stripes' with exuberant (and brilliant) waiter Steve Buscemi, was very Quentin Tarantino-ish, very drole indeed. There was an excellent one with a lass flipping through an incongruous magazine and complaining with the waiter, one with two black guys missing some important social connection, and two brilliant old guys on a coffee break (what faces!).

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All-in-all, it is an art-house movie because it gets injected straight into the brain. You just know that for ages to come, odd bits of this movie will come to mind from time to time, and it will grow to become a favourite. In many ways, such films need hindsight to be appreciated.

It is clearly not a mainstream movie, and certainly not for everyone in the full-blown format… one wonders if it would be accepted by a more mainstream audience if it were serialised on TV or something. Broken up into sketches, each stands proudly as a full work, joined up, however, tends to draw attention to the irrelevant similarities of the theme: coffee and cigarettes.

It can work both ways, I suppose. This would be one I might consider getting on DVD one day, but I doubt if I would watch it through again, I rather think I would watch individual sketches. To it's credit, no single sketch is better than another per se, and that's amazing!

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