Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Watched GHOST DOG tonight on cable and except for a few scenes it was like I was watching it for the first time. So maybe I was. Which seems like a very "Way of the Samurai" thing to think and say.

I have a good friend. the great writer Dale Herd, who used to talk about the way of the Samurai when we were both trying to earn a living in Hollywood and I wasn't doing so well. He'd tell me the story of the Samurai who hadn't eaten in a week and was hurting with hunger. But when he approached the next town, he used his sword to cut a small piece of a branch into a toothpick and then walked down the middle of the main street in the town picking his teeth as if he'd just finished a big meal.

Not a bad strategy. I never learned to use it though. Some people used to call me "pathologically honest," or as the priest who explained to my family why I was being kicked out of the first college I went to said was the one good thing he could report about me, that I was "brutally honest."

I've learned over time that I only thought I was being honest. And that truth can only be approached, never reached completely.

Man, what a fine film. Jim Jarmusch's best, that's for sure (at least for my taste). And certainly one of Forest Whitaker's best performances. But then the entire cast was perfect for my taste. If you have to make movies with guns and violence, that's the way to do it.


AlamedaTom said...

Oh Man! I totally love this movie. I saw it twice, and after reading your post I'm ready to see it again. Aside from the myriad of other great things about the movie, you cannot say enough about Forest Whitaker's performance. Yet another example of the guy's incredible range.

~ Willy

Lally said...

Totally. I now consider it one of my alltime favorite flicks. The elements if described would seem so random (TV cartoons, cartoonish gangsters, the ice cream guy who only speaks French, etc.) or other plot turns would be expected from them (the not so subtle separate appearances of members of rival gangs in their colors, which doesn't lead to the expected etc.), but Jarmusch and his team make it work as a satisfying story AND philosophical inquiry into the meaning of life and death. Now that I think of it, it's pretty profound.