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Coffee & Cigarettes (2004)
Rated PG13

Starring: Roberto Benigni, Steven Wright, and Bill Murray

Rating:
***
out of
*****

Filmed over a 17-year period, Coffee & Cigarettes links 11 short films together with one common bond: coffee and cigarettes. Jim Jarmusch, the Akron, Ohio-born director of Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai and Down by Law, had been releasing short films in the series every few years but this is the complete collection.

Part of the fun is seeing who will be in the next segment and what they'll be talking about. There's no plot development to speak of and none of them last very long so if they meander away from your idea of interesting, be patient, and a new one will come along in short order.

My favorite segment featured a discussion of much-maligned and misunderstood scientist Nikolai Tesla and a demonstration of one of his devices right in a coffee shop for no apparent reason. I won't say who did the demonstration, but it was a pleasant surprise to see him on the big-screen.

While there's really nothing engaging going on plot-wise, there's plenty of interesting dialogue, a few thought-provoking observations on humanity and the simple joy of seeing some of Hollywood's bigger names stepping out of their mainstream boundaries for a few minutes to keep you involved in the film. To some it may feel like nothing more than an overlong student film with some top-shelf actors, but I really enjoyed the playful mentality behind the whole thing.

Trivia: The Roberto Benigni/Steven Wright segment was filmed in 1987. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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