September 24, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

It took director Jim Jarmusch 18 years to complete his collection of 11 vignettes built around caffeine and nicotine — and man, was it worth the wait. Averaging just nine minutes each, the stories range from the absurd (”Strange to Meet You,” with Roberto Benigni and Steven Wright, filmed in 1986 for Saturday Night Live) to the sublime (Blanchett playing opposite herself), and pack more heart than most features do in 120 minutes. We raise our cups extra high to the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and GZA, for hilariously schooling Murray in alternative medicine, and to Brits Molina and Steve Coogan, for lampooning the shallowness of Hollywood by playing themselves.

EXTRAS Disappointingly decaffeinated. An interview with the auteur on the genesis of the project would have gone down like a nice, hot cappuccino.

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