Jim Jarmusch's latest work may make you nostalgic for a time when people actually took the time to converse with one another, a time when coffee and cigarettes were the props over which we shared our worries rather than the causes of them. This suite of eleven vignettes, filmed over a span of 18 years, brilliantly deploys some Jarmusch regulars -- Roberto Benigni, Steve Buscemi, and Tom Waits among them -- and some new additions to his repertory company, including Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, Jack White, Meg White, and Wu-Tang Clan. The short films are all linked thematically by the eponymous substances. Each sequence involves several characters sitting around and sharing small observations, and each takes the time to explore what is happening between characters without resorting to formula. The topics of conversation range from the addictive qualities of caffeine to Abbott & Costello to the fictional rock band SQRL. Each film contains a dose of Jarmusch's signature dry wit. A few are laugh out loud funny. It is also a rare treat to see the work of such a gifted group of cinematographers in one sitting, among them Tom DiCillo, Robby Muller, Ellen Kuras and Frederick Elmes. Jarmusch is an anomaly in today's filmmaking world, having steadfastly resisted the lure of commercialism. His idiosyncratic artistry is what make his films so refreshing, and Coffee & Cigarettes is no exception.
Born in Akron, Ohio, Jim Jarmusch lives and works in New York City. Over the past two decades, he has directed many highly acclaimed films, including Permanent Vacation (1980), Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Down by Law (1986), Mystery Train (1989), Night on Earth (1992), Dead Man (1995), Year of the Horse (1997), Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), and a 10-minute segment of Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet (2000) entitled "Int. Trailer Night." Jarmusch has also directed music videos for Talking Heads, Big Audio Dynamite, Tom Waits, and Neil Young & Crazy Horse.