Coffee and Cigarettes

If we are talking about thought-provoking, entertaining, and interesting cinema, how about Jim Jarmusch’s epic film from 1986 – Coffee and Cigarettes? Look at the cast – Tom Wait, Roberto Benigni, Iggy Pop, Steve Buscemi. How about that acting talent? And it’s not only the amazing cast but the director has also done his job as a true artist should. No wonder he’s an indie cinema cult figure. Just look at the movies he has directed so far: Stranger than Paradise (1983), Down by Law (1986), Mystery train (1989), Night on Earth (1991), Broke Flowers (2005), and the list just goes on.

All of his movies are made in his distinctive style, and he’s mainly interested in people who live in the margins of society. Jim Jarmusch’s characters are hectic, with specific life stories, and absurdly funny. His movies might come across as positively grounded because he takes those ordinary moments in life and makes them magically cinematic. Although most of his movies happen in the USA, the influence of European cinema is pretty noticeable. This influence gives him a certain distinctive flair for which he’s known as the indie cinema cult figure that he is. His work with black and white cinema is also very noticeable. With these movies, he has established his position as one of the world’s most influential directors of the genre.

Coffee and Cigarettes is one of those epic black and white movies. This movie has two more sequels and the idea behind it is gathering an unexpected combination of actors and letting them talk over coffee and cigarettes through a series of vignettes. All of his short aesthetically pleasing dialogs are filled with smoke and interesting conversations. In the “Strange to Meet You” vignette, for example, you can see Roberto Benigni nervously sitting at a coffee table. There are a lot of coffee cups in front of him and it seems he has coffee energy to last him for a while. And here comes Steven, with the cigarette in his hand, sits down and says “I like to drink before I go to sleep. I want to dream faster”. The vignette continues with a dialog between the two protagonists until they switch places, then roles. 

This short sequence was filmed in an old coffee shop in 1986. Old chairs, moldy and dusty walls. For the contemporary coffee savant, this movie might seem like it’s been filmed ages ago. Compared to modern coffee shops, it looks like there were no standards back then. Now you have your laptop, your WIFi, sitting next to the CleanBreathing air purifiers who filter the dusty air and moldy walls. But if you’re nostalgic and want to transport yourself back to a time when you could have a genuine conversation with a friend over coffee and cigarettes, then you’ll absolutely love this movie.