What to Rent: Ghost Dog

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In which film savant Iggy Cortez shows us the Way.


Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is a bizarre but very watchable melting pot of ancient spiritualism, gangster references, urban decay and RZA’s  predictably infectious soundtrack. Forest Whitaker stars as yet another off-beat and enigmatic character, a bird-loving hit man named Ghost Dog who lives by ancient Samurai codes. He gives a fascinating performance due to Whitaker’s ability to express the concentration, agility and exactness of a samurai despite his hulking stature and a mere handful of lines. Perfectly capturing what is most interesting about Jarmusch’s movies, he mixes things that have very little to do with each other to produce interesting but somewhat absurd results.        

The story centers on Ghost Dog’s relentless protection of Louie, a mobster who once saved Ghost Dog’s life. However, after a series of complicated misadventures, Louie’s gang turns against the modern day samurai and the film focuses on Ghost Dog’s day-to-day survival and sense of duty. The storyline has its merits and surprises, but the film is more interesting for its many eccentricities, such as Ghost Dog’s bizarre camaraderie with his best-friend – an ice cream seller who doesn’t understand a word that Ghost Dog is saying as he only speaks French – or his pseudo-philosophical conversations with the precocious Pearline, a young girl who carries children books, pulp paperbacks and The Souls of Black Folk in her lunch box. Jarmusch has made many admirable movies, but, like Night on Earth and Dead Man, Ghost Dog stands out for its cleverness, hypnotic beauty and dark humor. 

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  1. mark  

    iggy, your taste is sickeningly impeccable.

  2. Ron Lewenberg

    Ghost Dog is a great movie.
    Forrest Whitaker's latest indy performance is the role of Idy Amin in "The Last King of Scotland"

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