Pin It
Favorite

DVD Review 

by Joel Smith


Halfway through the first of the 11 vignettes that compose Coffee and Cigarettes, I found myself with the slightest twinge of a coffee craving. And I hate coffee. In the segment, called "Weird To Meet You," deadpan comic Steven Wright sits at a little table with a jittery, frenetic Roberto Benigni. Shot in black and white and tightly, statically framed, the scene consists of little more than chitchat. Wright riffs on how he likes to drink coffee right before bed.


While, Benigni shakily tips one demitasse of espresso after another towards his pursed lips. Until Wright complains about a dentist appointment and Benigni, mystifyingly excited, offers to go to the dentist for him. He departs suddenly, leaving Wright looking utterly bewildered.


Weird, eh? It's right up Jim Jarmusch's alley. Like his previous movies (Night on Earth, Mystery Train, etc.), Coffee and Cigarettes is underscored by a heavily subdued sense of absurdity and stocked with characters that are just to one side of normal. The acting and dialogue are often intentionally flat, and there's not a punch line to be found anywhere. The film is, simply, a series of conversations over cigarettes and coffee (and sometimes tea). There's no over-arching plot and only one or two linking motifs. There's no climax, no denouement. It's languid and listless.


In "Somewhere in California," Iggy Pop and Tom Waits smoke and take offense at each other's innocent questions. In "Delirium," the Wu Tang Clan's GZA and RZA talk nicotine with Bill Murray, who is, inexplicably, undercover as a waiter. In the best of the vignettes -- "Cousins?" -- Alfred Molina sips tea with fellow Brit actor Steve Coogan, who heartlessly deflects all of the praise and friendly overtures offered by his compatriot (who is heartbreakingly sincere) until he learns that Molina knows director Spike Jonze. Coogan shifts quickly into obsequiousness, but Molina, burnt and rejected, just slumps away.


What just happened? Nothing, really. An exchange. A few terse but flaccid emotional parries, performed just below the level of consciousness. And yet an hour and a half later, you're left with a hunger for more along with a serious nicotine jones. How did that happen?





Publication date: 03/31/05

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Recall and Response
  • Recall and Response

    The attempt to remove Spokane Mayor David Condon from office may be a long shot, but he isn't taking any chances
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Shades of Black Lives
  • Shades of Black Lives

    A Spokane County detective's Facebook post about Black Lives Matter sparks debate among local law enforcement
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Fires Hit Home
  • Fires Hit Home

    Tens of thousands of acres burn around Spokane on Sunday and Monday; plus, DOJ weighs in on concerns over bail system
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap

Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap @ Boots Bakery & Lounge

Last Wednesday of every month

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Joel Smith

Most Commented On

  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'

    Spokane's rental housing has problems, but landlord and tenant groups are split on a solution
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • 'End of Story'

    Condon administration aims to close the controversial Frank Straub chapter — but last week's scathing report has irrevocably changed the narrative
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


election 2016


green zone


marijuana


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • Manufacturing Fear
  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • Green Thumbs
  • Green Thumbs

    Inside Buddy Boy Farm
    • Jan 28, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation