Jim Stark

Coffee and Cigarettes II (1989, Jim Jarmusch)

Coffee and Cigarettes II stars twins Cinqué Lee and Joie Lee as twins having coffee in Memphis. Why are they in Memphis? They don’t know, but it seems like it’s Cinqué’s fault. Jarmusch le’s the twins bicker though most of the short, which is funny enough but then there’s Steve Buscemi too.

Buscemi’s playing the annoying (local) waiter. His Tennessee accent is shaky but his rant about Elvis is awesome. Cigarettes feels tailor-made for a film class, with white Buscemi physically separating the black Lee twins. The banter could also be plotted as to how it goes back and forth.

But spending too much time on Jarmusch’s process distracts from the short. The twins are great–particularly Joie–and the short’s rather a fun time.

There are some outstanding shots too, which Jarmusch uses both for comic relief and narrative pacing. Cigarettes is a fabulous use of eight minutes.

3/3Highly Recommended


Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch; director of photography, Robby Müller; edited by Melody London; produced by Rudd Simmons and Jim Stark.

Starring Joie Lee (Good Twin), Cinqué Lee (Evil Twin) and Steve Buscemi (Danny the waiter).

Coffee and Cigarettes (1986, Jim Jarmusch)

Technically, Coffee and Cigarettes is most impressive at the beginning. The short’s simple–Steven Wright meets Roberto Benigni for coffee. When Benigni makes room for Wright, Jarmusch’s handling of the process is amazing. It’s a quick series of shots; beautifully composed and edited together.

As for the rest of the short, it’s a fine diversion but… I guess cooler is the right word. It’s cooler than it is good. Wright’s dialogue could be a stand-up monologue, only Benigni gleefully interrupts him. The best moment is when Benigni says he doesn’t understand what Wright’s saying. Watching Benigni–and hearing his responses–it’s impossible not to wonder if he understands what’s going on. Finding out he doesn’t makes it even better,

Jarmusch lets the short run out instead of following through with the gently absurdist ending, which is too bad.

Still, Coffee and Cigarettes is a great use of five minutes.



Directed by Jim Jarmusch; written by Jarmusch, Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright; director of photography, Tom DiCillo; edited by Melody London; produced by Jim Stark.

Starring Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright.

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