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
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.