Friday, 7 December 2007

Film: Coffee and Cigarettes

Lowdown: Different people having their coffee and cancer sticks.
As films go, not many can be less unassuming than Jim Jarmusch's (Broken Flowers) Coffee and Cigarettes. It's basically a collection of short sketches in which famous actors or other famous celebrities smoke cigarettes and drink coffee while having chit-chat of the type people tend to have when smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee.
Now I'm sure Jarmusch addicts will be able to see some sophisticated vision in there. Trying my best, I can see some sarcastic look at the culture of wasting time through messing about with legal drugs, but that's quite a stretch. The only things I can clearly see that stand up for Coffee and Cigarettes are:
1. The chats which are the center of the coffee/cigs action are, occasionally, witty. It's standard Tarantino long but cool chat material.
2. The actors involved in some of the gigs are interesting, mostly because some of them are not plain actors and the pairings are interesting. In one gig you have Iggy Pop and Tom Waits, while on another you have Jack and Meg White. Still, interesting as this may be, movies cannot stand on such flimsy basis.
3. There is an obvious sense of improvisation in the air. Sure, the core of each sketch is scripted, but there is an aroma of genuine surprise by the some times not that professional actors to what is going on. Still, should I invest my time on a film just because it has an improvised nature? I don't think so.
I guess what I am trying to say is that coffee, cigarettes and pointless chit chat do not make a film great no matter how cool the director is.
Best scene: The Alfred Molina gig is nice, but my vote for the best sketch goes to the Cate Blanchett one (and no, not because she's an Aussie). It's simply the most intelligent of the sketches, with Blanchette playing herself in a dialog with Blanchett playing Blanchett's cousin. She's not afraid to make herself look stupid (albeit in an intelligent way).
Overall: The chats are not too bad, but they're also so limited that they can never be good either. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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