Published May 01, 2004The coffee break comes without a prescribed script. There's no agenda to be followed, and by its condensed length, it lends itself to flights of conversational fancy or intense, focused discussion. Its varieties are endless, and that's just what underground filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (Down By Law, Ghost Dog) accomplishes in this series of vignettes that he has, in fact, been filming sporadically for almost 20 years.
Whether it's inspired casting (the deadpan Steven Wright and the manic Roberto Benigni talk about the dentist), or ridiculous situations (Bill Murray serves coffee to Wu-Tang Clan's GZA and RZA), it remains simply a coffee break: familiar, fleeting and unusual, as chance as meeting someone on a train.
Some of them are naturally engaging (watching Iggy Pop suck up to Tom Waits), or more strictly constructed (Jack White demonstrates his Tesla Coil for Meg). Cate Blanchett gets all acting class, playing herself and opposite herself as her own look-alike cousin, while Spider-Man 2's Alfred Molina and British comedian Steve Coogan discuss their own familial connections.
With each segment running at about coffee and cigarette break length (between six and 12 minutes), there's always something else coming along. In the end, it makes excellent coffee break conversation of its own. (UA/MGM)