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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

This week at SFC: Coffee and Cigarettes

Thursday 2nd August 2007

Our screenings are free and all are welcome.

Film starts 8:15 pm. Doors open 7:30 pm.

The Studiofilmclub is pleased to screen Jim Jarmusch's documentary "Coffee and Cigarettes", a series of short vignettes built on one another to create a cumulative effect, as the characters discuss things as diverse as caffeine popsicles, Paris inthe '20s, and the use of nicotine as an insecticide--all the while sitting around sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes. As director Jarmusch delves into the normal pace of our world from an extraordinary angle, he shows just how absorbing the obsessions, joys and addictions of life can be, if truly observed.

Coffee and Cigarettes (Jim Jarmusch/USA/2004/93')

Coffee and Cigarettes was initiated in 1986 when Jim Jarmusch shot the first skit in black and white with Roberto Benigni as Bob and Steven Wright as Steven. The second scene was shot in 1989 with the twins, Cinqué Lee and Joie Lee, and the waiter Steve Buscemi where they discuss Elvis and the oppression of African-American musicians. The third piece was filmed in 1993 with Tom Waits and Iggy Pop meeting in a Californian bar where the two get together. This suggests that Jarmusch has been working on this idea for some years and there is much more to it than what meets the eye. The culmination of Coffee and Cigarettes came when all the 11 skits were put together in a film in 2003 for the audience to experience and ponder.

Self medicated existential philosophy, awkward dialogues with moments of silence, human connection, and health conscience characters drive the story of Coffee and Cigarettes where Jim Jarmusch displays 11 disjointed vignettes all set in different milieus. What ties the 11 incoherent skits together are the coffee and the cigarettes as they function as a brief opportunity for human connection away from time and responsibilities. The characters continue to inhale the nicotine and consume the caffeine during their meetings in order to stay alert and rid any slight hint of social anxiety. Yet, all the characters remain uncomfortable with one another as silence and meaningless conversation seems to fill their time cramped lives. This creates a socially symbolic oxymoron where the coffee and cigarettes are suppose to function as the key to human connection, but instead these two social drugs for self-treatment of anxiety and sleepiness become an impenetrable unfriendly wall.

There are several highlights in Coffee and Cigarettes as the film has a brilliant cast that occasionally seems to improvise. In addition, the characters in the film often play themselves in an invented situation, which enhances the authentic atmosphere around the characters as they sit down around a small table for coffee and cigarettes. Cate Blanchett's dual performance is dazzling as she presents a rich, famous and successful performer and her envious poor cousin. The connection between Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan brings the viewer gleeful vengeance as the two are apparently distant relatives. All the skits offer humor, insight, and some irony as they continue to inhale their nicotine and drink their caffeine leading to a terrific cinematic experience.

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