Coffee and Cigarettes
2004
Jim Jarmusch's ensemble comedy collects a series of strange encounters Jarmusch has been capturing in short films since the mid-1980s, presenting them as a series of vignettes that all revolve around discussions held over coffee and cigarettes.

Scott Hardie: “It sucked.”

I admire Jim Jarmusch's willingness to be unconventional as much as everybody else, but the nature of risk-taking is that it sometimes leads to disaster, and that's the unfortunate result in this case. What started as a short in 1987 with Steven Wright and Robert Benigni drinking coffee, smoking, and barely understanding each other in conversation led to a series of such shorts, and after fifteen years Jarmusch decided to tie them all together with a final few that nicely reference the earlier material verbally and thematically (not that any of the skits truly seem like they're truly connected except for these passing references to each other). It sounds like a great idea, but it never gets off the ground comedically or thematically, due to what I can only describe as a lack of any fucking reason to exist other than "why not?"

The late great Gene Siskel held movies to a standard that they had to be more interesting than a documentary of the same actors eating lunch, and I find it highly ironic that this film, in which the stars play outsized versions of their public personas meeting and chatting, would fail his test miserably. There are so many long boring pauses (Reneé French and the White Stripes), so many moments where the actors circle endlessly around the same pointless topic (Alex Descas and Isaach De Bankolé), and especially so many ridiculous monologues that you cannot imagine the actors ever really saying (Alfred Molina and Steve Buscemi) that it becomes a trial of willpower not to hit the chapter-skip button. This project had the potential for greatness, but the reward of a few scattered laughs is not worth the price of seemingly never-ending torment via skits that no reason to occur.

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