Coffee and Cigarettes
Directed by: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Roberto Benigni, Steven Wright, Joie Lee,
Cinqué Lee, Steve Buscemi, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Joseph Rigano, Vinny Vella,
Vinny Vella Jr., Renee French, E.J. Rodriguez, Alex Descas, Isaach De Bankolé,
Cate Blanchett, Mike Hogan, Jack White, Meg White,
Alfred Molina, Steve Coogan,
Katy Hansz, Genius/GZA, RZA, Bill Murray, William Rice, Taylor Mead
2004 Cosmique Movie Awards
Jim Jarmusch films a series of unconnected vignettes unified solely by being filmed in black-and-white and centering around actors playing themselves smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee.
Any film that acts as a collection of short stories will have its challenges, and "Coffee and Cigarettes" is no exception. In this format, as with short stories, there's no opportunity for extensive character development or plot points. Each scene is a quick snapshot that ultimately must stand on its own, disconnected from the rest of the film - but for the film itself to succeed, the scenes must all work, and must come together in the end to illustrate a common theme or intent.
Unfortunately for "Coffee and Cigarettes," the scenes don't all work. Some of the vignettes are very good. Some are mildly amusing. But many are just tedious. Cate Blanchett, a longtime Cosmo favorite (Best Actress winner in 2001 for "Bandits" and multiple Hall of Fame nominee), is particularly good in a dual role as the actress and her cousin Shelly. Bill Murray gives a great performance in an otherwise average scene. But it's challenging to see how either previous Cosmo nominee will wrangle another nomination out of this film.
Ultimately, it's unlikely that "Coffee and Cigarettes" will elevate to the top five of any of my lists this year. It will definitely receive due consideration for Best Ensemble, a category that for me is always fairly competitive. And while I can appreciate the technical artistry of its cinematography, it wasn't quite to my taste and isn't likely - for me, at least - to beat out the more sweeping epics on the horizon. It will get my vote for Most Overrated Film of 2004. Fortunately for the film, I suppose, it probably won't be seen by enough Cosmo voters to get even more votes for this dubious distinction.
My Rating: 4
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