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Coffee and Cigarettes Blu-ray Review

Coffee and Cigarettes (2004) movie poster Coffee and Cigarettes

Theatrical Release: May 14, 2004 / Running Time: 97 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Jim Jarmusch

Cast: Roberto Benigni (Roberto), Steven Wright (Steven), Joie Lee (Good Twin), Cinqué Lee (Evil Twin, Kitchen Guy), Steve Buscemi (Danny), Iggy Pop (Iggy/Jim), Tom Waits (Tom), Joe Rigano (Joe), Vinny Vella (Vinny), Vinny Vella Jr. (Vinny Jr.), Renee French (Renée), E.J. Rodriguez (Waiter), Alex Descas (Alex), Isaach De Bankolé (Isaach), Cate Blanchett (Cate, Shelly), Michael Hogan (Waiter), Jack White (Jack), Meg White (Meg), Alfred Molina (Alfred), Steve Coogan (Steve), Katy Hansz (Katy), GZA (GZA), RZA (RZA), Bill Murray (Bill Murray), Bill Rice (Bill), Taylor Mead (Taylor)

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The average person probably does not know the name "Jim Jarmusch", but they might have seen one or more of his movies. Broken Flowers (2005)
sold over 2 million tickets in North America alone and those who make it a point to see all the movies of Johnny Depp, Bill Murray, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Steve Coogan, or Forest Whitaker could not do so without being exposed to some of the independent films that Jarmusch has been making on a regular basis since the early 1980s.

Written and directed by Jarmusch, Coffee and Cigarettes (2004) assembles as much star power as any of his films, with at least half of the 24 names listed on the film's poster and cover art (nearly the entire cast) likely to elicit some recognition from those versed in cinema and music. Coffee and Cigarettes is a black and white anthology film consisting of eleven shorts that involve the consumption of the two titular vices.

The project began as a single short starring Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright created back in 1986 for "Saturday Night Live." Subsequent segments were made in 1989 and 1993 (the latter winning the Short Film Palme d'Or at Cannes) and eventually, Jarmusch had enough sketches to qualify as a feature film, his ninth to date. This year brings two Jarmusch films to theaters: his 13th, the Iggy Pop and the Stooges documentary Gimme Danger, is now playing, while his 14th, Paterson starring Adam Driver, will open the final week of December.

Comedian Jeffrey Wright and Italian actor Roberto Benigni provide a study of contrast in "Strange to Meet You", the 1986 Saturday Night Live short that opens "Coffee and Cigarettes."

Coffee begins with that first SNL short, "Strange to Meet You", in which excitable Italian actor Benigni sits with wry comedian Wright
for an amusing clash of personalities over many Espressos before Wright's scheduled dentist appointment.

The second segment, "Twins", produced in 1989, sees African-American twins (real-life siblings Joie and Cinqué Lee) butting heads while a chatty waiter (Steve Buscemi) sits between them and starts rambling on a theory about Elvis and his brother.

"Somewhere in California", the aforementioned 1993 Cannes prize winner, sees Iggy Pop and Tom Waits (playing "themselves") sharing an awkward, strained sit-down next to a jukebox.

"Those Things'll Kill Ya" sees a couple of Italian-Americans (Joseph Rigano and Vinny Vella) clashing, while the latter's son (Vinny Vella Jr.) silently asks for money.

Cate Blanchett plays both herself and her tough brunette aspiring musician cousin Shelly in "Cousins."

In "Renée", Renée (Renée French) tries to enjoy some alone time with a weapons catalog as Tommy James & the Shondells' "Crimson & Clover" plays, but an intrusive, apologetic waiter (E.J. Rodriguez) makes that difficult.

"No Problem" finds two old friends (Alex Descas and Isaach De Bankolé) reconnecting and being surprised that there is no weighty reason for this reunion.

"Cousins" lets Cate Blanchett do double duty, playing both herself and Shelly, the jealous struggling musician cousin she hasn't seen in a couple of years.

"Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil" has Jack White of The White Stripes tell his sister and bandmate Meg about the ideas of Nikola Tesla and then demonstrating the Tesla coil he built.

An in-demand Steve Coogan is cooler than a cucumber upon Alfred Molina's enthusiastic revelation that the two actors are cousins in "Cousins?"

"Cousins?" sees Alfred Molina informing Steve Coogan that his genealogy research has identified them as cousins, news that means much more to Molina than it does to Coogan. This is the best short of the film,
even if it humorously (or knowingly) miscalculates the career arcs of the two actors, who the same summer as this would separately star in beloved blockbuster Spider-Man 2 (Molina) and the utter flop Around the World in 80 Days (Coogan).

We don't come down too far from that high in "Delirium", which sees Bill Murray slinging coffee in a diner where Wu-Tang Clan rappers GZA and RZA are meeting. The rappers and funnyman recognize each other and profess their mutual appreciation before RZA gives Murray some advice for healthier living.

The film closes with "Champagne", in which two old men (Bill Rice and Taylor Mead) pretend their coffee is champagne while celebrating life in a basement at the Armory.

Coffee and Cigarettes hit Blu-ray this week from Olive Films, who also treat this MGM catalog title to a new DVD edition.

Coffee and Cigarettes Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.78:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: November 15, 2016
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.95
Also available on DVD ($24.95 SRP) and Instant Video
Previously released as MGM DVD (September 21, 2004)
Blue Keepcase

VIDEO and AUDIO

Though produced over a number of years, the segments of Coffee and Cigarettes maintain a consistent look and that look consistently pleases in Olive Films' sharp and clean 1.78:1 Blu-ray presentation. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack gets the job done, distributing dialogue, ambient diner noises, and the occasional jukebox tune without any complications at all.

Taylor Mead makes for an unlikely and unusual interview subject, while showcasing some brightly-colored bandages. The "Coffee and Cigarettes" Blu-ray menu doesn't offer a slew of things, but the shot of GZA, RZA, and Bill Murray is more than enough.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Though the case doesn't mention it, the Blu-ray includes two bonus features, both of which are encoded in HD: the original Coffee and Cigarettes theatrical trailer (2:05) and a short interview with actor Taylor Mead (4:10), who passed away in 2013.

The static, silent main menu tastefully features Bill Murray alongside the RZA and GZA.

A booklet touting the Olive Films catalog joins the full-color disc inside the standard blue keepcase.

Iggy Pop and Tom Waits share a laugh over coffee and cigarettes, but most of their encounter is marked by awkward tension.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

More often than not, Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes entertains with its amusingly awkward and offbeat conversational shorts. Olive Films' Blu-ray is basic, but its high quality picture and sound satisfy and the movie is well worth a look.

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Related Reviews:
Written and Directed by Jim Jarmusch: Down by LawDead ManOnly Lovers Left Alive
2004: The Life Aquatic with Steve ZissouSpider-Man 2Around the World in 80 DaysAnchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
New to Disc: Space JamCafé Society
Anthology Films:
New York StoriesWild TalesFour RoomsNew York, I Love You

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Reviewed November 17, 2016.



Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2004 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, United Artists, Smokescreen Presentation, Asmik Ace, Bim Distribuzione, and 2016 Olive Films.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.