I was first introduced to independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch when we studied “Coffee and Cigarettes” in a lecture on dialogue-driven scriptwriting at IFSS. Through a small revelation on FiascoCast! (thanks Jordan) it turns out he also directed “Dead Man” as well.
At IFSS, we studied the “Somewhere in California” vignette featuring Iggy Pop and Tom Waits. I managed to borrow out the DVD recently and watch the rest while chowing down on cheap pizza.

 
Coffee and Cigarettes III: Somewhere in California. Winner of the Short Fllm Palme d’Or at Cannes.

 

Part of me enjoyed it, part of me wondered where the hell this was all leading to and part of me wanted to just have it on as background noise while I played Half Life 2 or something. Overall, I enjoyed it. Four out of five stars or spoons or eagles or whatever rating system you want to use.

“Coffee and Cigarettes” is simple in premise: A series of dialogue-driven vignettes featuring two or three characters drinking coffee and/or smoking cigarettes. Depending on the sort of movies you’re into, you’ll find this either an interesting watch, or completely dull. I’m still not 100% percent sure which camp I fall into, given that not all the vignettes were particularly interesting to me. However I can see why this is such an important film to watch if you’re thinking of cutting your teeth in the film world.

One? It deals with a simple and relate-able central theme.
Two? There are several vignettes, all of them different in their own way yet linking together through the overall premise and dialogue.
Three? Even in the dull vignettes? The actors and their characters pull together amazing performances.

Even if you’re NOT in my shoes and need to bone up on your film-watching for inspiration/research. Do give it a look.

The standouts for me were:

“Somewhere in California”, where Iggy Pop and Tom Waits make such an awkward and uncomfortable pairing it just makes you laugh.

“Cousins?”, where Steve Coogan (who -in my eyes, can do no wrong. Not even by appearing on Top Gear) plays the perfect Hollywood douchebag against the earnest and kind-hearted, almost-desperate foil in the form of Alfred Molina.

“Jack Shows Meg his Tesla Coil”, featuring Jack and Meg White as they wax science about Nikola Tesla.

“Delirium”, where G/Z/A and R/Z/A of the Wu-Tang clan discuss herbal remedies and aid the coffee-addicted waiter (played marvellously by Bill Murray) with his smoker’s cough.

and lastly “Twins”, where Steve Buscemi discusses siblings, Elvis conspiracy theories and evil twins with Joie and  Cinqué Lee.

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