Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)

by Afra Nariman

Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Stars: Billy Murray, RZA, GZA, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Cate Blanchett, Steve Buscemi, Roberto Benigni, Steven Wright, Joie Lee, Alfred Molina, Steve Coogan


“And you’re Bill Murray. Bill ‘Groundhog Day, Ghost-busting ass’ Murray.” ~ GZA

“I know that, just don’t tell anybody.” ~ Bill Murray

The Bill Murray/RZA/GZA vignette might be my favorite “scene/sequence” in cinema — it’s certainly one of them. Throughout his career, Jarmusch has consistently embraced character-driven filmmaking. He’s expressed:

“Life has no plot, why must films or fiction?”

Jim Jarmusch

Executed effortlessly, Coffee and Cigarettes drops us in to observe the brief, seemingly arbitrary moments of people’s everyday lives, showing us the in-between, non-exciting moments of the day that are typically ignored in the scripts of plot-driven films. With Coffee and Cigarettes, Jarmusch essentially honors the human experience in his own way, finding value, charm, comedy, sometimes emotion, and always humanity, in brief conversations between strangers, or estranged cousins, or twins, or old friends, or celebrities, etc.

Coffee and Cigarettes exists in a rarified space that no film has ever been in, before or since; and Jarmusch is most likely the only filmmaker who could have accessed this particular space, located in a small corner of the realm of cinematic possibilities.

With each passing vignette, we’re brought further into the space of the film; and with its ongoing reflexivity and self-reflexivity throughout, at times we are even asked to participate in the value-making of the film through our familiarity with the incredible cast. Coffee and Cigarettes gets more enjoyable with each rewatch.

Serious Delirium.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

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