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Rental Unit: "Coffee and Cigarettes"

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Delivery and context, or lack thereof, are key elements in a Jarmusch picture. There is not much visual variety. People sitting at a table is the dominant image. The rest of Jarmusch's signature stylistic devices — iconic rock 'n' roll songs, long takes, old-fashioned title cards — give life to the scenes.

Coffee and cigarettes play an essential role. The film elevates them to the status of pop-culture reference points. The characters, mostly in their late 20s to early 40s, refer to themselves as the coffee and cigarettes generation. It is the common ground between the actor, the down-and-out musician and the machine shop worker. Jarmusch mixes well-known celebrities with more obscure ones (playing themselves), sometimes for laughs, as when Bill Murray serves coffee to The RZA and The GZA of The Wu-Tang Clan.

The picture stylistically recalls Jarmusch's earliest work, "Stranger than Paradise," but it lacks that film's cohesive story. Scenes are alternately humorous, poignant and wry, but not connected. They can also be a little too cute and self-satisfied with some of the film's guest stars. (Jack and Meg White should be barred from the screen.) People who slavishly get their fix every day will love this movie. Casual viewers might not totally get it. And Jarmusch fans might bemusedly wonder if the director has been wasting too much time over coffee and cigarettes. — Wayne Melton



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