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:: Coffee and Cigarettes

Coffee and Cigarettes is the latest work from writer-director Jim Jamusch (Dead Man, Ghost Dog). Not a feature-length film as such, it is a collection of eleven short films, shot over the last two decades, with a variety of stars of varying luminosity, from Cate Blanchett to Alfred Molina, from Bill Murray to Steve Buscemi. For the most part they play themselves.

Shot in various cafes, diners, hotel lobbies, etc, the quality of the shorts varies, but there is definitely some quality here. The choice of black and white film, the opposite colouring of the title vices, and the checkerboard looks of many of the tables and sets, all combine to give the impression of a large chessboard. In a number of the films the main interest is following the flow of power in the conversation, particularly in the segments involving Meg and Jack of the White Stripes, Tom Waits and Iggy Pop, as well as Cate Blanchett, where she plays both herself and her down at heel cousin. The best example of this – and probably the best section of the film – features Steve Coogan, fresh off his ’24 Hour Party People’ adulation, who, in the only section not featuring coffee, is not at all pleased to find himself stuck having a pot of tea with fanboyish bit actor Alfred Molina.

Quentin Tarantino had obviously seen the section featuring Steve Buscemi as a waiter cum Elvis conspiracy theorist – like Buscemi’s Pulp Fiction cameo as the Buddy Holly lookalike, Buscemi isn’t much of a waiter here either.

All in all, this is a pretty decent film. Some of the sections do lag into tedium, but there is enough quality material here, and the sections are short enough that it doesn’t really matter too much. It is an interesting examination of the little moments in life.