Coffee and Cigarettes, anybody?
March 28, 2004 4:35 PM   Subscribe

"What did you think of Seabiscuit?" the young man added helpfully. Even the deadpan Jarmusch laughed. Jim Jarmusch's new movie (the first feature-lenght after 1999's Ghost Dog), "Coffee And Cigarettes", is "a droll, ironic look at two of our favorite addictions". The black and white movie (trailer here) has a strange (or Stranger than Paradise?) cast: Roberto Benigni, Steven Wright, Steve Buscemi, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Cate Blanchett, Meg White, Jack White, Alfred Molina, Steve Coogan, GZA, RZA, Bill Murray, ... Jarmusch's philosophy: "When you're watching movies, the guy's girlfriend calls him, she's having something bad happening, and he says, 'I'll take a cab. I'll be right over.' Cut to him getting out of the cab. And my brain always says, what about the cab ride? The incidental thing, the thing that's not the destination?". (more inside)
posted by matteo (18 comments total)
The movie will open on April 15 the S.F. International Film Festival after a very good debut in other festivals (Toronto, SXSW). General US release is due in May. In Italy, because of the director's (and, er, Roberto Benigni's) popularity, is already in the theatres, to rave reviews and solid box-office.

btw I loved the movie, and I really like this synopsis (some minor spoilers inside):
One of the best episodes, featuring Hollywood-based British actor Alfred Molina ("Frida") and British comedian and actor Steve Coogan ("24 Hour Party People"), is a masterpiece of comic timing. The actors, playing themselves, vie subtly and hilariously for psychological dominance. One confesses the typical "huge admiration" for the other, but the second only replies, "Well, I'm very aware of you." Another beauty of a sequence, "Somewhere in California," showcases a ravaged duo, Iggy Pop and Tom Waits, engaged in a similar sort of passive-aggressive warfare that masquerades as good fellowship. A third focuses hilariously on Bill Murray's weird interactions with two guys from the Wu-Tang Clan.
Another episode features Steve Buscemi playing a racist redneck, while "No Problem" is a masterpiece of miscommunication, with two Claire Denis regulars -- Alex Descas and Isaach de Bankol -- managing to have an entire conversation without saying a single meaningful thing to each other. Cate Blanchett plays opposite herself, as a blonde movie star who's self-reflexively rather embarrassed by her fame, and as the star's resentful and slightly whorish brunette cousin. If we needed further proof of Blanchett's great acting gifts, here it is in miniature form.
Running jokes about nicotine and caffeine, especially their deleterious effects on the human body, nicely structure the film. In an episode starring the overexposed Italian comic actor Roberto Benigni, stand-up comic Steven Wright says he drinks lots of coffee so that he can dream faster. Tom Waits justifies having a cigarette because he has quit smoking. The film is also kept together by means of reappearing camera angles and distances, and a repeated shot of café tables on which the addictive substances are spread out like a Dutch still life, though this time shot from above.

posted by matteo at 4:39 PM on March 28, 2004

Steve Coogan in a Jarmusch film? *boggle*
posted by John Shaft at 4:45 PM on March 28, 2004

Cinematography lovers will appreciate the resplendent work of il maestro Robby Mueller (who already shot "Dead Man" for Jarmusch), Tom DiCillo, Ellen Kuras and David Lynch veteran Freddy Elmes. Additional info on the movie here (.pdf file)

John Shaft: yeah, he plays -- very well -- what one hopes is a more weaselly, not realistic version of himself
posted by matteo at 4:50 PM on March 28, 2004

Great post, matteo - thanks.

O/T: Your emphasis on the Seabiscuit question reminded me of a recent question Jeremy Paxman asked Tony Blair on BBC 2's Newsnight, after the latter had boasted, back from a visit to the ranch, how close his relationship with George W.Bush was.

Asked the Paxman: "Did you pray together?"

I hear the whole of Britain laughed out loud - and even Blair chuckled.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:33 PM on March 28, 2004

This looks like a happy return to form after his last two features (which I found to be ponderous snoozers).

According to his IMDB entry it appears he's shot a bunch of shorts in the last 15 years or so called "Coffee and Cigarettes"-- anyone know more about how this?
posted by gwint at 5:49 PM on March 28, 2004

OT: Miguel, I'm not being a smart ass or trying to pick a fight... but can you explain to me what exactly about that is funny? I seriously don't understand. Is it funny that Bush is a religious man? Is not being ashamed of your religion something that is amusing to Europeans?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:03 PM on March 28, 2004

he's shot a bunch of shorts in the last 15 years or so called "Coffee and Cigarettes"-- anyone know more about how this

yeah -- back when Jarmusch made Down By Law, he started to think about a series of B/w shorts based on the same premise -- almost-improvised one-reel dialogues between actors seated in a bar or in a diner, enjoying coffee and cigarettes. the Benigni short is the oldest (around 1986), then JJ shot another in 1991, and then shot more and more (the RZA/GZA/Bill Murray episode looks like it was made during the Ghost Dog shoot in 1998 or around that time). that's also why there are so many different cinematographers, crew members, etc.
it was made in different times -- a work in progress indeed. I remember the Benigni episode shown in Italian theatres in the late 80's-early 90's

anyway: another Jarmusch interview about this movie here, good Guardian profile here.

Steve, Miguel: I am sure you guys do have working e-mail accounts, don't you? ;)

posted by matteo at 6:13 PM on March 28, 2004

here's the trailer.
posted by birdherder at 6:57 PM on March 28, 2004

Dead Man is among the best movies ever made. Among its other virtues, the absurdist humor, which might seem overly distant/ironic at first, grows increasingly hilarious on repeated viewings. This is what I love most about Jarmusch movies, and what I thought Ghost Dog was lacking.
C&C looks fantastic. The shot of Stephen Wright staring blankly past a hyperactive Benigni made me laugh out loud. The concept is so great that its execution is almost beside the point.
posted by Treeline at 7:07 PM on March 28, 2004

Dead Man, Mystery Train, Ghost Dog, and Down by Law are all fantastic f*cking movies. I can't wait for his new one.

Thanks matteo.

Carl Perkins!
posted by xmutex at 7:30 PM on March 28, 2004

"Is it funny that Bush is a religious man?"

In a word, 'yes'.
posted by dgaicun at 7:33 PM on March 28, 2004

Steve_at_Linnwood - don't take it personally. Think about how you chuckle to yourself about those silly hindus... or those zaney ancient greeks and their pantheon... or your superstitious aunt. Other people's dogma always sounds silly.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 7:33 PM on March 28, 2004

Hey, take it to email. The subject of this post is Jim Jarmusch, who is a goddamn god, people, and I am counting the fucking days to see this. Thanks, matteo!
posted by scody at 10:56 PM on March 28, 2004

this is the best post i've read in a long time, i've got a new movie to look forward too and a bunch of great interviews to read. cheers matteo.
posted by mrben at 1:00 AM on March 29, 2004

Jarmusch: "So this is like little breaks in your day that are not part of the structure. It's not like, what did you do today? I had a coffee break. ... I love the idea of the thing you're not drawn to dramatically becoming the essence of the whole thing. It's very contrary, but my brain works that way a lot."
I'd wager a whole lot more people are willing to accept the dramatic possiblities of the non-dramatic act thanks to the mainstreaming of the idea at the hands of Misters Seinfeld and David. "It's a movie...about nothing!"
posted by chandy72 at 8:04 AM on March 29, 2004

Yes thanks for the post, todays catch phrase via the the trailer and the GZA is:

"Daaaamn, that don't sound too good, Bill Murray."
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:16 AM on March 29, 2004

"Daaaamn, that don't sound too good, Bill Murray."

that's genius.

"Bill Groundhog Day, Ghostbustin-ass Murray..."

French trailer here
posted by matteo at 11:53 AM on March 29, 2004

I saw it yesterday, and it's very good. Some of the vignettes fall flat, but the one with the Lee twins, Molina/Coogan, Cate Blanchett's, and the RZA/Bill Murray one are pure gold.
posted by muckster at 11:49 AM on March 31, 2004

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