Coffee and Cigarettes

Coffee and Cigarettes is a 2003 independent film directed by Jim Jarmusch. The film consists of eleven short stories which share coffee and cigarettes 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 popsicles, Paris 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

Joseph Rigano 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.


Renée French (played by herself) drinks coffee while looking through a gun magazine. E.J. Rodríguez plays the waiter anxious to be of service.

No Problem

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.


Cate Blanchett 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

Features Jack 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 and RZA 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's Rückert-Lieder 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.

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