1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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DarkImbecile
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1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

#1 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Jun 25, 2020 2:08 pm

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

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Jim Jarmusch combines his love for the ice-cool crime dramas of Jean-Pierre Melville and Seijun Suzuki with the philosophical dimensions of samurai mythology for an eccentrically postmodern take on the hit-man thriller. In one of his defining roles, Forest Whitaker brings a commanding serenity to his portrayal of a Zen contract killer working for a bumbling mob outfit, a modern man who adheres steadfastly to the ideals of the Japanese warrior code even as chaos and violence spiral around him. Featuring moody cinematography by the great Robby Müller, a mesmerizing score by the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, and a host of colorful character actors (including a memorably stone-faced Henry Silva), Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai plays like a pop-culture-sampling cinematic mixtape built around a one-of-a-kind tragic hero.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Jim Jarmusch, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Alternate isolated stereo music track
  • New Q&A with Jarmusch, in which he responds to questions sent in by fans
  • New conversation between actors Forest Whitaker and Isaach De Bankolé, moderated by film scholar Michael B. Gillespie
  • New interview with casting director Ellen Lewis
  • New interview with Shifu Shi Yan Ming, founder of the USA Shaolin Temple
  • New video essay on RZA’s original score for the film
  • The Odyssey: A Journey into the Life of a Samurai, a 2000 program on the making of the film
  • Deleted scenes and outtakes
  • Archival interviews
  • Trailer
  • More!
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: An essay by critic Greg Tate and quotations from Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, by the early-eighteenth-century monk Yamamoto Tsunetomo


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Never Cursed
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Forthcoming: Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai

#3 Post by Never Cursed » Thu Jun 25, 2020 2:11 pm

Criterion is asking for fan-submitted questions to be answered by Jim Jarmusch on an upcoming release of Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai. The release will be sourced from a 4K restoration of the film.

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Re: Forthcoming: Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai

#4 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jun 25, 2020 2:17 pm

Is it just me, or are there now three different threads for this? Also how are non-mods starting threads?

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Re: Forthcoming: Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai

#5 Post by Never Cursed » Thu Jun 25, 2020 2:21 pm

It seems as though swo, soundchaser (in the Speculation thread), Ribs, and I all posted the same info within 4 minutes of each other. I don't remember a time when non-mods couldn't start threads, though I'm a relatively new user

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Re: Forthcoming: Ghost Dog

#6 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Jun 25, 2020 2:43 pm

While swo was clearly the victor, I wanted to respect the history of the losers by moving the other posts to this thread and keeping them standing as monuments to the Great Ghost Dog Thread War of 2020.

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Re: Forthcoming: Ghost Dog

#7 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jun 25, 2020 2:47 pm

In the immortal words of Henry Silva: “Ghost... Dog?”

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Re: Forthcoming: Ghost Dog

#8 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:34 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:21 pm
Thanks, yeah I tried to veer away from a threadsplit with an awful pun to tie us back to the less-awful film
TWBB’s failure moved here

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Re: Forthcoming: Ghost Dog

#9 Post by Luke M » Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:46 am

Hope someone asks Jarmusch about updog.

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Re: Forthcoming: Ghost Dog

#10 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:13 pm

Sorry if this has been covered elsewhere but will it be licensed from LionsGate or someone else?

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Re: Forthcoming: Ghost Dog

#11 Post by paulm » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:20 pm

flyonthewall2983 wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:13 pm
Sorry if this has been covered elsewhere but will it be licensed from LionsGate or someone else?
I believe the rights reverted back to Jarmusch/his company and they're most likely licensing to Criterion/Janus similar to what they did when that happened with Dead Man.

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Re: Forthcoming: Ghost Dog

#12 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:43 pm

paulm wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:20 pm
flyonthewall2983 wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:13 pm
Sorry if this has been covered elsewhere but will it be licensed from LionsGate or someone else?
I believe the rights reverted back to Jarmusch/his company and they're most likely licensing to Criterion/Janus similar to what they did when that happened with Dead Man.
Jarmusch has stated publicly that as the rights to his films revert back to him, he intends to give Criterion first dibs at re-releasing them on home video (I saw him at an event this past February in which he said as much, proclaiming his appreciation for the label).

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Re: 1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

#13 Post by swo17 » Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:09 pm


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Re: 1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

#14 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:51 pm

The "quotations from Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, by the early-eighteenth-century monk Yamamoto Tsunetomo" is a fun inclusion

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Re: 1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

#15 Post by Finch » Sat Oct 24, 2020 2:35 pm


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Re: 1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

#16 Post by FrauBlucher » Thu Nov 19, 2020 11:27 am


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Re: 1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

#17 Post by domino harvey » Mon Nov 23, 2020 9:28 pm

Really enjoyed revisiting this one via the Blu-ray. Hadn't seen it since college but I think it's definitely my favorite Jarmusch upon rewatch (though I like him far less than many here). Great example of slow and deliberate pacing working perfectly. Never noticed before that the flashback origin story for Ghost Dog's service is hinged on
SpoilerShow
Different Rashomon memories of who the guy beating him up is aiming his gun at-- perfect
I enjoyed the casting director monologue (presumably recorded remotely) too wherein I learned there is a large Venn diagram overlap between the cast of this movie and Casino

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Re: 1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

#18 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Nov 23, 2020 10:38 pm

Coincidentally I also watched my copy of this tonight, and while I generally love Jarmusch, I liked this a lot more than my last revisit a few years back. I loved the film in my youth (I remember seeing Le Samourai in college and doing more than a few double takes!) and it's fun watching Jarmusch adapt so many ideas to his contemplative, yet playful, style (the way Ghost Dog swings his silenced pistol around like a samurai sword is an endearing expression solely placed for our childlike amusement, after what could have been very serious scenes in a different film).

Alongside its supremely entertaining narrative, Jarmusch draws his eye toward an ironic world across a spectrum of tones. There are hilarious caustic details in the mobsters' silly behaviors contrasting Ghost Dog’s mindful gravity, but also within his character as his commitment to morality clashes with socially-condemned immoral behavior. Instead of focusing on moral relativism, Jarmusch moves into a transcendental place of humanism, where the theme of respect and honor can stand the test of time, regardless of the time-shift into the “new age” the gangsters spout about. It’s heartening to think that if just one person out there is able to prioritize these treasured old-school values, that the world can be a "better" place. Better being in the eye of the beholder of course, not objectively speaking.

Enjoying an ice cream alone as a form of meditation, and connecting with another good-natured person on the bench through emotionally-resonant literature, are two very different poetic expressions of optimistic sensitivities to corporeal opportunities, in step with Jarmusch’s own approach to life. The focus on nonverbal communication as an equitable tool to form close friendships is also an anti-western concept that resonates on a spiritual level. This is a film that recycles old artistic ideas (from specific nods to films beyond just the Melville and classic man-against-mob arcs, to the recylclable essence of postmodern rap music on the soundtrack) and creates something wholly unique out of them, using the possibilities of cinema to signify the limitless possibilities in life that we restrict ourselves from due to rigid cultural values. So does Ghost Dog to an extent, but perhaps if we bridged ourselves over with uncompromising curiosity toward his mentality, we’d have a more expansive toolbox with which to face the world on sober terms. Since Ghost Dog's principles are founded in an inflexible way of life, this is less of a call to adhere to any one more than the other, but instead understands that true curiosity involves the willingness to part from our own "way" for a moment to become interested in another's, which can be safely done through the medium of cinema. Through the nonpartisan welcoming of all practices, Jarmusch also acknowledges the worth of conservatism with careful consideration, without adopting it with blindness.

This is surely one of the most digestible eclectic assortments of genres, ideas, and moods; a spiritual-action film, ironically about two groups with their own stiff rules thankfully shot from a position of neutral interest.
domino harvey wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 9:28 pm
Never noticed before that the flashback origin story for Ghost Dog's service is hinged on
SpoilerShow
Different Rashomon memories of who the guy beating him up is aiming his gun at-- perfect
I think this is integral to the film's theme of alternative perspectives having equal value because they help shape equal human beings' motives and personal truths, again using the omniscient medium of film to show us both and appreciate all.

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Re: 1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

#19 Post by FrauBlucher » Mon Nov 23, 2020 11:32 pm

I also just finished watching this. Which was a blind buy for me. I loved it. therewillbeblus, right on with your observations. Jarmusch does a masterful job in combining different flavors and ideas with a finesse that I don't see too many directors sharing in that ability. I need to watch the extras. And then a rewatch of the film. I have a feeling it's a film where you pick up new things with each viewing

oh, and Forest Whitaker was amazing. Don't know if he won any awards that season but deserved nominations

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Re: 1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

#20 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Nov 23, 2020 11:54 pm

I don't remember when Jarmusch made the statement, but I believe he wrote the character specifically for Whitaker to the point where the entire film hinged on his casting. It makes complete sense given Whitaker's very specific energy that is at once inviting and impenetrable, carrying an array of tones in his unpredictably dynamic internalized facial expressions alone, where a smile and innocent eyes can signify peace and also double for ferocity.

As far as 'picking up new things'
SpoilerShow
I always got the Branded to Kill bird-on-sniper ode, but Ghost Dog's earlier response to the bird in the trees was too reminiscent of Flowers of St. Francis to be a coincidence, especially when a shade of Ghost Dog's personality resembles Francis of Assisi's own attitude

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Re: 1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

#21 Post by Rupert Pupkin » Tue Nov 24, 2020 12:03 am

I did not see the bonus so far. The transfer was a nice improvement. I was thinking of course of le Samourai by Jean-Pierre Melville for the white gloves; but did Jim Jarmush also mention "On The Waterfront" ?

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Re: 1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

#22 Post by FrauBlucher » Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:18 pm

At the end of Jarmusch's Q&A from fan questions, he mentioned how much he loves the Criterion Collection and happy he is when the rights to his films return to him so he can give them to Criterion. I wonder why he doesn't make deals like Wes Anderson instead of waiting many years for the rights to end to get them back

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Re: 1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

#23 Post by knives » Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:38 pm

His movies make less money so perhaps that causes a different contractual reality?

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Re: 1057 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

#24 Post by FrauBlucher » Fri Nov 27, 2020 7:47 am

Yeah. I guess I'll have to wait at least another 10 years for a Criterion of Paterson :(

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