Monday, March 16, 2009

Coffee Films: A Rare Breed

Percy Adlon, director, "Baghdad Cafe" , 1990
The entire story takes place in a roadside cafe along a dusty and desolate western highway. One day, a stocky female German tourist comes in and talks herself into, not only a room, but also a role as "cultural
liaison" or something like that. Anyway, she takes over many activities including the preparation of coffee. The earth moves and the cafe is transformed. Unbelievably good acting and a wonderful story. The German version is entitled "Out of Rosenheim," 1987.

Jim Jarmusch, director "Coffee and Cigarettes," 2003 (left).
This is a well-paced and fascinating series of 11 vignettes about people who seem to be at a crisis point, whether they know it or not. Renee French drinks coffee alone while leafing through a gun magazine. What IS her plan?

Steve Buscemi, Iggy Pop, Bill Murray and Roberto Benigni are among the funniest, but there is pathos and shadows, too.

Despite its importance in American culture, there are few coffee scenes in film. There is, of course, the irrepressible Jack Nicholson in "The Bucket List" and Harrison Ford ("Now there's a cup of coffee!) in "Witness," but nothing truly pivotal, except "Non-Fat."

You must see "Non-Fat." a very short film (30 seconds) from the UK, written and directed by Oliver Manzi and starring Frank Scentori and Sari Easton (Below,left). It is, one must admit, an "action" film about the perils of too much customer choice and all those dizzy titles at coffee counters. For this viewer, it's hilarious every time. Just Google it.

Well, there is just one more: "Graveyard of the Percolators," Universal Pictures, 1937. This excerpt may not be approved by the studio, but it is offered by Complete Illustrated History of Coffee Makers, available online at

"I don't care how many percolators you bring for gifting, Jane and I hate percolator coffee, so you're not getting this ivory!"

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