Coffee and Cigarettes
is a 2003 independent film directed
by Jim Jarmusch
. The film consists of eleven short stories
which share coffee
as a common thread.
The film is composed of a comic
series of short vignettes shot in black and white
built on one another to create a cumulative effect, as the characters discuss things as diverse as caffeine
in the 1920s, and the use of nicotine
as an insecticide
— all the while sitting around drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. The theme of the film is absorption in the obsessions, joys, and addictions of life, and there are many common threads between vignettes (such as the Tesla coil
, medical knowledge, the suggestion that coffee and cigarettes don't make for a healthy meal (generally lunch), cousins, The Lees (Cinqué, Joie, and a mention of Spike), musicians, industrial music, acknowledged fame, and even the idea of drinking coffee before sleeping in order to have fast dreams). In each of the segment of the film, the common theme of alternating black and white tiles can be seen in some fashion.
The eleven segments that make up the film are as follows:
Strange to Meet You
This is the original 1986 short Coffee and Cigarettes
with Roberto Benigni
and Steven Wright
having a conversation about coffee and cigarettes.
Originally the 1989 short Coffee and Cigarettes, Memphis Version
, this segment features Joie Lee
and Cinqué Lee
as the titular twins and Steve Buscemi
as the waiter who expounds on his theory on Elvis Presley
's evil twin. Cinqué Lee also appears in "Jack Shows Meg his Tesla Coil".
Somewhere in California
Filmed in 1993 as the short Coffee and Cigarettes - Somewhere in California
. In this segment musicians Iggy Pop
and Tom Waits
smoke cigarettes to celebrate that they quit smoking, drink some coffee and have an awkward conversation. Tom tells Iggy that in reality he's a doctor. Then Iggy tells Tom that he knows of an industrial-style drummer with a "hard, banging" sound that Tom should check out. Waits gets slightly aggravated and asks Iggy if he thinks his records suck.
Those Things'll Kill Ya
and Vinny Vella
have a conversation over coffee about the dangers of smoking. The silent Vinny Vella Jr. also appears to beg his father for money.
(played by herself) drinks coffee while looking through a gun magazine. E.J. Rodríguez plays the waiter anxious to be of service.
Alex Descas and Isaach De Bankolé
are a couple of friends who meet and talk over some coffee and cigarettes. Alex has no problems, or so he states repeatedly.
plays herself and a fictional and non-famous cousin named Shelly who she meets over some coffee in the lounge of a hotel. There is no smoking in the lounge as the waiter, played by Mike Hogan
, informs Shelly (but not until Cate is gone). Shelley tells Cate about her boyfriend, Lee, who is in a band. She describes the music style as hard industrial, similar to the band Iggy describes.
Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil
and Meg White
of the band The White Stripes
having some coffee and cigarettes. They play themselves, although the scene seems to perpetuate the band's former pretense that they are indeed siblings. Jack shows Meg his Tesla coil
that he says he built himself and waxes intellectual on the achievements of Nikola Tesla
. In the beginning, Jack seems upset that Meg doesn't share his excitement, and it takes Meg some coaxing to get Jack to agree to show Meg his Tesla Coil
. He introduces the line "Nikola Tesla perceived the earth to be a conductor of acoustical resonance." Intrigued by this concept, Meg repeats the phrase and clinks her coffee cup at the end of the segment to produce a ringing noise and she looks pensively out into the distance before a cut to black. Cinqué Lee plays a waiter in this segment. In the end, the coil breaks, and Meg and the Waiter offer suggestion to why it might be broken. Finally Meg says something that Jack seems to agree to, and he leaves to "go home and check it out". This particular vignette is full of White Stripes motifs such as childhood innocence, Nikola Tesla, their 'sibling relationship', and a little red wagon.
British actors Alfred Molina
and Steve Coogan
have a conversation over some tea, where Alfred claims that the two are distant cousins. Katy Hansz asks Steve Coogan for an autograph. Steve Coogan rebuffs Alfred Molina until he overhears that Alfred Molina is a friend of Spike Jonze
. Although they say they are in LA, the segment was shot in Brooklyn at Galapagos, Williamsburg.
Hip hop artists (and cousins) GZA
of the Wu-Tang Clan
drink naturally caffeine-free herbal tea
and have a conversation with the waiter, Bill Murray
about the dangers of caffeine and nicotine. During this conversation GZA makes a reference to how he would drink lots of coffee before going to bed so his dreams would "whip by" similar to the camera-shots at the Indy 500
, very similar to the same reference that Steven Wright did in the first segment. Murray requests that GZA and RZA keep his identity secret while GZA and RZA inform Murray about nontraditional methods to relieve his smokers hack.
William Rice and Taylor Mead
spend their coffee break having a nostalgic conversation, whilst Janet Baker
singing "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" from Mahler
appeares from nowhere. William Rice repeats Jack White's line, "Nikola Tesla perceived the earth to be a conductor of acoustical resonance." It is possible to interpret the relevance of this line to the constant recurrent themes throughout the seemingly unconnected segments.