Mark Kaminsky is kicked out of the FBI for his rough treatment of a suspect. He winds up as the sheriff of a small town in North Carolina. FBI Chief Harry Shannon, whose son has been killed by a mobster named Patrovina, enlists Kaminsky in a personal vendetta with a promise of reinstatement into the FBI if Patrovina is taken down. To accomplish this, he must go undercover and join Patrovina's gang.
During shopping for Christmas, Frank and Molly run into each other. This fleeting short moment will start to change their lives, when they recognize each other months later in the train home and have a good time together. Although both are married and Frank has two little kids, they meet more and more often, their friendship becoming the most precious thing in their lives.
Roberta is a bored suburban housewife who is fascinated with a woman, Susan, she only knows about by reading messages to and from her in the personals section of the newspaper. This fascination reaches a peak when an ad with the headline "Desperately Seeking Susan" proposes a rendezvous. Roberta goes too, and in a series of events involving amnesia and mistaken identity, steps into Susan's life.
Jesus, a humble Judean carpenter beginning to see that he is the son of God, is drawn into revolutionary action against the Roman occupiers by Judas -- despite his protestations that love, not violence, is the path to salvation. The burden of being the savior of mankind torments Jesus throughout his life, leading him to doubt.
Writer Paul Benjamin is nearly hit by a bus when he leaves Auggie Wren's smoke shop. Stranger Rashid Cole saves his life, and soon middle-aged Paul tells homeless Rashid that he wouldn't mind a short-term housemate. Still grieving over his wife's murder, Paul is moved by both Rashid's quest to reconnect with his father and Auggie's discovery that a woman who might be his daughter is about to give birth.
An African-American Mafia hit man who models himself after the samurai of old finds himself targeted for death by the mob. Jarmusch's spiritual gangster film tells the story of an inner-city hit man (Whitaker) who lives on a rooftop, training himself as a samurai in the strictest sense. He communicates primarily by carrier pigeon, while remaining loyal to a gangster (Tormey) who once saved his life.