A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is nothing more than people sitting around drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and talking about various things. This film has no plot and no story structure. It's a series of vignettes, short scenes that are like little slices of life. There is no violence or sexuality and some profanity, but the content of the film is based on conversation of rather mundane experiences.
What's the story?
In COFFEE AND CIGARETTES, writer/director Jim Jarmusch brings a collection three previously released vignettes along with various other sketches. All of which have one thing in common: They feature famous people smoking and drinking coffee in a restaurant or coffee shop. "Coffee and Cigarettes," stars Stephen Wright and Roberto Benigni. "Memphis Version," features Steve Buscemi, Joie Lee, and Cinqué Lee. "Somewhere in California," stars musicians Tom Waits and Iggy Pop. Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Alfred Molina, members of the Wu-Tang Clan, and British tv actor Steve Coogan appear in other shorts.
Is it any good?
In the pantheon of Jarmusch films, this is not up there as a "must see," the likes of which remain with Dead Man and Down by Law. Jarmusch does better when he sticks to at least the semblance of a narrative structure. Even Mystery Train, which had much of the same story structure (a collection of scenes taking place in Memphis) at least had a common thread that did more to tie the scenes together than the fact that characters were smoking a drinking coffee. But one thing that Coffee and Cigarettes cements is Jarmusch's ability to create interesting and compelling characters. While this film may not be among his best, it's fairly entertaining.
Some scenes are better than others. For example, the one titled "Somewhere in California" features Waits telling tall tales to Iggy Pop about being a doctor, and how it's reflected in his music. Likewise the scene titled "Cousins" features Cate Blanchett playing herself and her cousin "Shelly" who meet for the first time in over a year. With the good comes the bad in scenes like "Jack Shows Meg his Tesla Coil," that features the two members of the White Stripes. This will surely be the biggest draw for teens who are fans of the band. Unfortunately, the two can't act and the scene comes across as flat and boring.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the conflicted message about smoking cigarettes that comes across in this film. To what extent does this film glorify the practice of smoking and drinking coffee? To what extent does it discourage such behavior? How can such a film be made at a time when the dangers of smoking are so widely known?
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