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Filmspotting Message Boards => Filmspotter Pantheon => Brackets => Topic started by: Junior on April 12, 2009, 09:29:17 PM

Title: 90s US Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Junior on April 12, 2009, 09:29:17 PM
Election
VS.
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

So, I'm gonna post the write-up and then not say which one won!  This is mostly because I don't really have a firm winner. I'm leaning one way, but I can be persuaded.

Election.

I had seen this before, but it was on TV and edited quite a bit. Upon rewatching it, I found that it was a pretty great film. It's a smart satire of high schools and democracy and it's a great look at rises and falls. Broderick and Witherspoon give career great performances in this film. Broderick is great as the kind of antithesis of Ferris Bueler. His seemingly idealistic views get degraded to the point of rigging the Student Council President elections in order to make Witherspoon's dreams of absolute power die a much-needed death.

The best thing about Election is that it doesn't really take a side. We can see how despicable Broderick becomes and how Witherspoon's quest for power is really just an issue of misguided enthusiasm. I know I'm not really saying this well, so let me illustrate this point with a counter-example. If this were a South Park episode one character would be the paragon of virtue and rightness. The other would be the most horrible person in the world. And after the bad person wins we would get a speech from one of the boys about how everything that happened was stupid and wrong. Election is smarter than all that. It knows that (CLICHE ALERT) there is no good and evil, just shades of gray (CLICHE ALERT). The only character that comes off well is Chris Klein (in his first role), mostly because he is too stupid to realize how he is being played and how stupid he is. Even he, though, gets to ponder existential questions, albeit at a frat party.

The last thing I'm going to say about this is that it is really, really funny. Allow these two screenshots and the quote to make my case for me:

(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3617/3436000605_1fd97877ab.jpg)

(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3643/3436806106_c3a4aedde9.jpg)

Quote
[all praying to God]
Tracy Flick: Dear Lord Jesus, I do not often speak with you and ask for things, but now, I really must insist that you help me win the election tomorrow because I deserve it and Paul Metzler doesn't, as you well know. I realize that it was your divine hand that disqualified Tammy Metzler and now I'm asking that you go that one last mile and make sure to put me in office where I belong so that I may carry out your will on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Tammy Metzler: Dear God, I know I don't believe in you, but since I'll be starting catholic school soon, I though I should at least practice. Let's see. What do I want? I want Lisa to realize what a bitch she is and feel really bad and apologize for how she hurt me and know how much I still love her. In spite of everything, I still want Paul to win the election tomorrow, not that FILMSPOTTER! Tracy. Oh, and I also want a really expensive pair of leather pants and someday, I wanna be really good friends with Madonna. Love, Tammy.
Paul Metzler: Dear God, than you for all your blessings. You've given me so many things, like good health, nice parents, a nice truck, and what I'm told is a large penis, and I'm very grateful, but I sure am worried about Tammy. In my heart, I still can't believe she tore down my posters, but sometimes, she does get so weird and angry. Please help her be a happier person because she's so smart and sensitive and I love her so much. Also, I'm nervous about the election tomorrow and I guess I want to win and all, but I know that's totally up to you. You'll decide who the best person is and I'll accept it. And forgive me for my sins, whatever they may be. Amen.

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

I (infamously?) kicked out Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man in my first verdict. Everybody hated me for it. Then the all powerful and all-knowing pixote came and realized that Orlando, the film I picked over Dead Man, was really a British film. This may or may not have actually happened, and it may or may not have been pixote, but go with me here. So my heinous decision was reversed. Dead Man lived to see another round. Now, later in the bracket, I am entrusted with another Jim Jarmusch film. I can see some of the similarities with Dead Man and Ghost Dog. They're both stories of loners who don't really belong in their own world. And they both have respected musicians making kick-ass scores (Neil Young for Dead Man and RZA for Ghost Dog).

But Ghost Dog is more about two kinds of people who are outdated and in danger of extinction. The first kind is Ghost Dog. He is a modern day samurai. He trains and uses the old ways to be an assassin for the other kind of person. This other kind is the mobster. I have gone on record about how stupid I think the mobster idea is. Jarmusch, it seems, agrees. He shows how dumb the whole way of life is and how easily the organization can be brought down.

This all seems like a big, serious film. But it's not. It's actually pretty funny. The mobsters are stupid, but in a lovable kind of way. And Ghost Dog isn't a super-serious samurai like I thought he would be from the DVD cover. Check out this little exchange:
Quote
Louie: Goddamn it. You shot me in the exact same CINECAST!ing place as last time!
Ghost Dog: I'm sorry. I mean you no disrespect. You're my retainer. I don't want to put too many holes in you.
LOL!

And, here's the film in a capsule:
Quote
Vinny: You know, Louie, there's one good thing about this Ghost Dog guy.
Louie: What's that, Vin?
Vinny: He's sending us out the old way. Like real CINECAST!ing gangsters.

So, in all, I liked this one quite a bit as well. I was a little afraid to see that the film involved gangsters because I can't really take any more glorification of the lifestyle. But this doesn't do that. It's smarter than that. Also, I discovered that the gangsters were part of the Dharma Initiative! It's right there on the wall!
(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3617/3436875068_036a7af6c4_o.png)

I am now ready to be talked into a verdict.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FLYmeatwad on April 12, 2009, 09:36:20 PM
Elections can be like the Juno/Little Miss Sunshine/Slumdog Millionaire of this bracket, except actually good, though I do enjoy Juno.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 12, 2009, 09:36:53 PM
Also, I discovered that the gangsters were part of the Dharma Initiative! It's right there on the wall!
(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3617/3436875068_036a7af6c4_o.png)

DAMN! I was all prepared to point that out too!
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ¡Keith! on April 12, 2009, 09:56:43 PM
I'd rather talk you into realizing how smart South Park actually is but there's prolly another thread for that somewhere.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: jbissell on April 12, 2009, 10:06:23 PM
I'd rather talk you into realizing how smart South Park actually is but there's prolly another thread for that somewhere.

Perhaps the Krazy Kripples episode would do it? It's got gangs!
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 12, 2009, 10:44:06 PM
Easing in to my verdict...

(My thoughts on Election start here and go on for a few pages.  My Ghost Dog thoughts don't start until here (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=5669.msg246367#msg246367).)

(http://i43.tinypic.com/2rrnii0.jpg)
Election  (Alexander Payne, 1999)

It's a smart satire of high schools and democracy...
This isn't a criticism, really, just something I've been wondering about: every review I read seems to agree that Election is a satire, but that's not really how I experienced the film.  To me it seemed more rooted in caricature than satire.  Maybe that's just a semantics thing or maybe I'm not quite clear on what satire is.  The film's exaggerations of the familiar might be clever and interesting (more on that another time), but I'm not real sure how they're at all revelatory.  So in reading these reviews, I've been curious to see what critics have labelled the objects of the film's satire and what light the film shed on those objects.

David Edelstein (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/electionhowe.htm):  "American satire rarely comes more winning than Election, an exuberantly caustic comedy that shows the symbiotic relationship between political go-get-'em-ism and moral backsliding."

Desson Howe (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/electionhowe.htm): "Election is the satire of the season, a hilarious, razor-sharp indictment of the American Dream. ... No one escapes moral scrutiny. Almost everyone falls afoul of their passion or poor judgment as they try to make sense of life."

Stephen Hunter (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/electionhunter.htm): "...a wonderful, piercing and hilarious examination of high school politics and how bitter and ruinous it can become. ... It sees through everybody. Nothing impresses it. All ideology is hollow self-aggrandizement, all causes bogus, the good are always punished and the bad always triumph. It's misanthropic, cruel (so cruel it draws laughs from a vice-presidential nominee in a wheelchair, and I defy you not to laugh), and dead on. It's got the best faces on screen in years."

Wesley Morris (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/1999/04/30/WEEKEND3951.dtl): "With Election, Payne announces himself as one of the keenest purveyors of the scattered pieces that once was an American morality. For him, absolute good is as mythical and mythologized as absolute bad. And he wades though the vast gray area in between with aplomb, sagacity and a bracing lack of presumption, tempered with unbridled suspicion."

Roger Ebert (http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19990430/REVIEWS/904300302/1023): "...a wicked satire about an election for student government president... Election makes the useful observation that although troublemakers cause problems for teachers, it's the compulsive overachievers who can drive them mad. ... Alexander Payne is a director whose satire is omnidirectional. He doesn't choose an easy target and march on it. He stands in the middle of his story and attacks on all directions. ... What he's aiming for, I think, is a parable for elections in general--in which the voters have to choose from among the kinds of people who have been running for office ever since high school."

Janet Maslin (http://www.nytimes.com/library/film/042399election-film-review.html): "Election is Alexander Payne's acerbic satire of the American electoral process. From the news that Tracy's Mom solicited tactical advice from Elizabeth Dole and Connie Chung to a photograph of Tracy smiling confidently at the polling place, it joins his earlier (and even more wicked) Citizen Ruth in skewering political ethics and behavior, with a lovely ear for hypocritical conversation."

Scott Tobias (http://www.avclub.com/articles/election,18763/): "In Election, Alexander Payne's vividly drawn and cutting satire, the campaign for president of a uniformly white, spirit-crushing suburban high school ... is meaningless, ruled by voter apathy and won by career-minded political animals. These elections are designed to give students a taste of the political process, which they do all too well: Were candidates not allowed to hand out 480 customized cupcakes on election day, it would be just like the real thing. ... A detailed and bracingly funny advance on Tom Perrotta's brisk little novel, Election skewers the sickly charade of the American political process while mustering up some compassion for those caught under its thumb."


Very little of that really rings true for me.  I didn't come away from the film with any new perspective on high school, student council, democracy, or the American Dream (nor did I laugh cruelly at the vice-presidential candidate in a wheelchair, thank you very much).  Again, this isn't a criticism of the film itself but rather a challenge to the general critical labelling of the film as a satire.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 12, 2009, 10:53:25 PM
Shorter version:  Does the movie play into our preexisting stereotypes of student government elections or subvert them?

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: edgar00 on April 12, 2009, 11:02:31 PM
satire
1  : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn   2  : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly
(Merriam-Webster)

caricature
  1  : exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics   2  : a representation especially in literature or art that has the qualities of caricature   3  : a distortion so gross as to seem like caricature 
(Merriam-Webster)

I highlighted what I felt was the key difference between the two.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 12, 2009, 11:49:54 PM
satire
1  : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn   2  : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly
(Merriam-Webster)

caricature
  1  : exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics   2  : a representation especially in literature or art that has the qualities of caricature   3  : a distortion so gross as to seem like caricature 
(Merriam-Webster)

I highlighted what I felt was the key difference between the two.

Under those definitions I would take the side that Election is simply a caricature of a set of stereotypes.

Election

My experience watching Elecion was certainly an odd one. I had seen the film at least a couple of times before, and I knew that I really liekd that film and I often recommended it. I remember thinking it was a great social satire, and it was witty and engaging and unique. I take it all back. Watching it again for this marathon I was almost completely repulsed by the film. Here and there there were funny bits or clever pieces of dialogue, but overall there was not much redeeming about the film.

I found it excruciatingly difficult to feel sympathy for any of the characters, and worse yet, I think Payne was basically openly mocking the characters as well. Even Chris Klein's character, who was likeable in a dumb sort of way, seemed to be the subject of pathetic mockery.

Furthermore, in what way is this film considered satire? It doesn't expose anything except to play into the stereotypes of high school often presented in films, only with a much darker tone. There is also nothing, nothing at all, revealed about the democratic system or its processes. I've seen reviews commenting on the film being a scathing satire on democracy. Where did they get that from? it barely even satirizes the high-school election process, instead using it as some sort of tool to make more mockery of a despicable teacher character.

I'll give this to the film: the performances are great. It's too bad they're in service of a terrible film. It actually bugs me a lot that Rushmore isn't in this round, but Election is. Rushmore is far better written, and has much more interesting and unique style. It says more about the human condition, and it satirizes high school life about a million times better even though it barely spends any time doing so. But I guess I shouldn't be blaming Election for the lack of Rushmore in this round. That honour goes to Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, the film facing Election in this round. I wonder if that film will measure up to Rushmore, surpass it, or make me even more angry that it isn't still alive.

To be continued...
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Junior on April 13, 2009, 12:01:22 AM
I think Payne was basically openly mocking the characters as well.

You really couldn't be more wrong about this part. The problem with this statement is that Payne is really just showing the realities of high school and life in general. As I said in my review, these are, for the most part, three dimensional characters with flaws and strengths just like regular people. Flick is annoying, yes, but I still feel bad for her when she "loses" and I can identify with her assessment of Klein's character in the VO on the bus. Broderick, too, has his good sides and his bad sides. He seems like a good teacher who is interested in teaching his students. But he is also angry and annoyed with Flick and people like her.

I don't think Payne takes a side and I think that leads to claims like yours sometimes. I think it is part of the greatness of the film.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 13, 2009, 12:26:10 AM
More semantics:  I think the question of whether or not Payne is mocking his character is a red herring.  I don't think it matters what Payne is laughing at but what the film invites us to laugh at (and how we respond).  Take, for example, the fact that the freeze frames of Tracy always show her at her most unflattering (Junior provides a sample screenshot (http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3617/3436000605_1fd97877ab.jpg) above).  What motivates this choice?  Is it just, "Hahaha, this girl looks dumb and ugly like this!"?  Or is it supposed to represent, subjectively, the way McAlister sees Tracy (making his pettiness the target of the joke)?  Both options seem problematic to me (there are probably other options): the first because "look how ugly she looks" isn't my kind of humor, so I personally would chalk that up to a joke that misses and even insults; the second because I don't think McAlister's seeing her like that is consistent with the rest of the film.  I think he's threatened by her external beauty and inner poise, resentful of her sexual attractiveness that led to Dave getting fired but also inspired by that attractiveness to pursue a substitute sexual fantasy.

[I could argue the other side of this, but I'm tired and there are other people left to chime in.]

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Junior on April 13, 2009, 12:42:33 AM
For me, the freezeframes were about showing that, even in a moment of intelligence (or perhaps smartness would be a better word), Flick looks silly. My friends and I often talk about whether a person is smart or intelligent. An intelligent person wouldn't look (as) silly in a freezeframe because there is something deeper than just book smarts, but a person like Flick who only knows how she thinks things should work (also seen in her coda at the end) would look silly because she is just reciting something she absorbed from a book.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ¡Keith! on April 13, 2009, 12:45:48 AM
satire
1  : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn   2  : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly
(Merriam-Webster)

caricature
  1  : exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics   2  : a representation especially in literature or art that has the qualities of caricature   3  : a distortion so gross as to seem like caricature 
(Merriam-Webster)

I highlighted what I felt was the key difference between the two.

Under those definitions I would take the side that Election is simply a caricature of a set of stereotypes.


You know in a great satire yr not actually supposed to like the characters... in fact they are supposed to repulse you.  Your entire arguement means that the film is infact great satire.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Clovis8 on April 13, 2009, 12:51:07 AM
satire
1  : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn   2  : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly
(Merriam-Webster)

caricature
  1  : exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics   2  : a representation especially in literature or art that has the qualities of caricature   3  : a distortion so gross as to seem like caricature 
(Merriam-Webster)

I highlighted what I felt was the key difference between the two.

Under those definitions I would take the side that Election is simply a caricature of a set of stereotypes.


You know in a great satire yr not actually supposed to like the characters... in fact they are supposed to repulse you.  Your entire arguement means that the film is infact great satire.

Keith is correct.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 13, 2009, 12:55:18 AM
So maybe now Junior will admit that Goodfellas is great satire.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ¡Keith! on April 13, 2009, 12:56:25 AM
So maybe now Junior will admit that Goodfellas is great satire.

pixote

did I stop short of saying that?!?
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 13, 2009, 12:58:39 AM
I was being satiric.  Hate me!

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: jbissell on April 13, 2009, 01:07:33 AM
I AM SICKENED TO MY CORE

 :P
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Junior on April 13, 2009, 01:08:13 AM
So maybe now Junior will admit that Goodfellas is great satire.

pixote

I will not.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: jbissell on April 13, 2009, 01:10:09 AM

Election

My experience watching Elecion was certainly an odd one. I had seen the film at least a couple of times before, and I knew that I really liekd that film and I often recommended it. I remember thinking it was a great social satire, and it was witty and engaging and unique. I take it all back. Watching it again for this marathon I was almost completely repulsed by the film. Here and there there were funny bits or clever pieces of dialogue, but overall there was not much redeeming about the film.


Why do you think you've had such a change of heart?  Is it an age thing, like being more removed from high school and having a different perspective of it now?
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 13, 2009, 01:13:51 AM
Shorter version:  Does the movie play into our preexisting stereotypes of student government elections or subvert them?

Any more takes on this?

I guess I'll say that one of the surprises of the film, for me, was how often it gave into cliche rather than reinventing it: the huge overachiever was driven by a stage mom character; the jock was crazy popular and crazy dumb — but his simplicity made him kind of pure and kind-hearted; the outsider girl adopted an anarchic pose; the four-time winner of Teacher of the Year had a really unsatisfying personal life.  All that seemed overly familiar to me, and I was disappointed the film didn't do more to make it fresh (like, to take a positive example, the backstory of the overachiever having slept with a teacher).  A lot of reviews make comparisons to Rushmore (a film that I, like frozenhamster, prefer to Election), but I think it might actually have more in common — too much in common — with another 1999 film, American Beauty.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ¡Keith! on April 13, 2009, 01:18:22 AM
I'd comment but i wasn't assigned this match-up (also haven't watched the flick in years).  I'm just here to non-satirically repulse people.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: jbissell on April 13, 2009, 01:20:17 AM
A lot of reviews make comparisons to Rushmore (a film that I, like frozenhamster, prefer to Election), but I think it might actually have more in common — too much in common — with another 1999 film, American Beauty.

I can see that comparison (to AB).  Rushmore is obviously the far superior film in just about every way, it's just that some people are dumb.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 13, 2009, 01:26:21 AM
I remembered Broderick as being more sympathetic the first time I saw the film.  re-watching it, I was surprised at how unlikeable he really is.  Really, for much of the film, I thought Tracy was the most sympathetic character.

Until she lies to cover up her tearing down the posters.  When Broderick is caught in a similar situation (walking in on his wife and the woman he attempted to sleep with) he doesn't argue to defend himself, he accepts his mistake and leaves.  This makes him slightly more honorable, I guess.  But then he deflects his anger and disappointment onto both the other woman ("Why did you do that?  You ruined my life!") and a kid (by rigging the election).

I'm left with no real protagonist.  I don't know what to do with that.

Oh, and Rushmore is better than either of these films.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 13, 2009, 01:26:54 AM
Glancing at metacritic, it looks like American Beauty is more likely to be labelled a dark comedy than a satire.  For whatever that's worth.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ¡Keith! on April 13, 2009, 01:34:05 AM
Glancing at metacritic, it looks like American Beauty is more likely to be labelled a dark comedy than a satire.  For whatever that's worth.

pixote

thats cuz no one is sickened by the cool dealer kid who see all the beauty in the world.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: mañana on April 13, 2009, 01:39:50 AM
Shorter version:  Does the movie play into our preexisting stereotypes of student government elections or subvert them?

Any more takes on this?

I guess I'll say that one of the surprises of the film, for me, was how often it gave into cliche rather than reinventing it: the huge overachiever was driven by a stage mom character; the jock was crazy popular and crazy dumb — but his simplicity made him kind of pure and kind-hearted; the outsider girl adopted an anarchic pose; the four-time winner of Teacher of the Year had a really unsatisfying personal life.  All that seemed overly familiar to me, and I was disappointed the film didn't do more to make it fresh (like, to take a positive example, the backstory of the overachiever having slept with a teacher).  A lot of reviews make comparisons to Rushmore (a film that I, like frozenhamster, prefer to Election), but I think it might actually have more in common — too much in common — with another 1999 film, American Beauty.

pixote

I haven't seen the film in a long time, and I'm too distracted right now to come up with anything articulate, so I'll just say that I think you're wrong.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 13, 2009, 01:42:14 AM
I remembered Broderick as being more sympathetic the first time I saw the film.  re-watching it, I was surprised at how unlikeable he really is.  Really, for much of the film, I thought Tracy was the most sympathetic character.

Until she lies to cover up her tearing down the posters.  When Broderick is caught in a similar situation (walking in on his wife and the woman he attempted to sleep with) he doesn't argue to defend himself, he accepts his mistake and leaves.  This makes him slightly more honorable, I guess.  But then he deflects his anger and disappointment onto both the other woman ("Why did you do that?  You ruined my life!") and a kid (by rigging the election).

I'm left with no real protagonist.  I don't know what to do with that.
I didn't remember much from my first viewing of the film, but just from the poster and DVD cover, I went into this viewing expecting Broderick to be the sympathetic David to Flick's unstoppable Goliath.  Not really how it plays out, though.  We don't even really get to see him be an especially good teacher, despite his rep.  In the classroom scenes, nobody but Tracy seems that engaged (ooh! ooh! Mr. Kotter! Mr. Kotter!).  edit: I guess that could be a comment on how Teacher of the Year voting is no different than student government voting.

The strategy of multiple narrators (taken from the novel) seemed to set up the possibility of multiple protagonists, but the film pretty much abandons that after the first act and sticks to McAllister's point of view, I think.  It's kind of funny because I got restless when, twenty-five minutes in, the film was still introducing new narrators; but then, thirty-five minutes in, I got annoyed because we were stuck with Broderick's character.  I probably had the most sympathy for Tammy just because she was the only character whose goal didn't seem empty, but I really could have used more of this kid:

(http://i44.tinypic.com/2unzu36.jpg)

Oh, and Rushmore is better than either of these films.
Going into this matchup, I wasn't sure I agreed with that.  But now I do.

I know about you and the teacher.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ¡Keith! on April 13, 2009, 01:45:52 AM
but I really could have used more of this kid:

(http://i44.tinypic.com/2unzu36.jpg)

pixote

you should watch this then:

(http://i42.tinypic.com/1zdrck9.jpg)
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 13, 2009, 01:46:35 AM
You had me at Fire.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: mañana on April 13, 2009, 01:54:23 AM
Oh, and Rushmore is better than either of these films.
Going into this matchup, I wasn't sure I agreed with that.  But now I do.

Better than Ghost Dog? Well that's some cold comfort.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 13, 2009, 01:57:31 AM
Some random things I liked about Election:

- The casual R-ratedness.  It's not like a film like Superbad, where wall-to-wall F-bombs and the like all blends together so that we're quickly desensitized to the vulgarity.  Instead, Election chooses its moment and chooses them pretty well.  The punchline to "There's one more thing to know about Tracy Flick" definitely capitalized on that shock value, for example.

- The end of the pep rally.  I didn't see where the film was going in saving Tammy's speech for third, and I thought it played out well, with a touch of surprise.

- Matthew Broderick, at the end of a long phone message, mentioning, "It's Jim."  That earned chuckle #1 from me.

- Chuckle #2, which also belonged to Broderick:

(http://i42.tinypic.com/a3e5xl.jpg)

- Smile #1, earned by Chris Klein: "Or maybe i'd be dead."

- Mojave 3.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: roujin on April 13, 2009, 01:59:46 AM
(http://i43.tinypic.com/ws66xc.jpg)
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ¡Keith! on April 13, 2009, 02:01:58 AM
Oh, and Rushmore is better than either of these films.
Going into this matchup, I wasn't sure I agreed with that.  But now I do.

Better than Ghost Dog? Well that's some cold comfort.

thats why autocracy doesn't work
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 13, 2009, 02:02:23 AM
satire
1  : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn   2  : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly
(Merriam-Webster)

caricature
  1  : exaggeration by means of often ludicrous distortion of parts or characteristics   2  : a representation especially in literature or art that has the qualities of caricature   3  : a distortion so gross as to seem like caricature 
(Merriam-Webster)

I highlighted what I felt was the key difference between the two.

Under those definitions I would take the side that Election is simply a caricature of a set of stereotypes.


You know in a great satire yr not actually supposed to like the characters... in fact they are supposed to repulse you.  Your entire arguement means that the film is infact great satire.

I don't see why a film's categorization as satire is predicated by my disliking of the characters. I don't have to like the characters, but I should at least feel as though they are present for more than just a straw-man type lashing by the director. What it comes down to is that I was completely annoyed by every character and nearly every scene in the film, and to my eyes there was no deep meaning to any of it other than some pretentious idea that by mocking a teacher who is annoyed by a student who herself is being mocked byb the director there is some great social satire to be gleened.


Why do you think you've had such a change of heart?  Is it an age thing, like being more removed from high school and having a different perspective of it now?

I was think about this, and I think part of it hasa to do with it having been one of the earlier "indie" films of its type that I was exposed to, and so in that respect it seemed new and fresh to me. I think the other reason is that at the time I fell for the film because I too was having a good laugh at the characters. I felt this way about a number of films that I now look back on and realize were little more than pretentious excercises. It's also the reason I will defend Wes Anderson to the death. Many have levelled these arguements against Anderson, but I have never once felt like he has ever done worse than find humour in his characters' eccentricities. What Anderson does is have fun with his characters and hopefully reach a deeper meaning by the end. Payne seems to have chosen the route of making fun of his characters and playing up high school movie stereotypes, while pretending as though there is deeper meaning to be had by it all.

Say what you will about the validity of my arguments, but when it comes down to it by the end of the film I felt totally empty, and slightly annoyed by the whole experience of watching it.


That all said, there were some things I still liked in the film, but there are inor enough that I don't care to mention them as others have already, and others surely will soon.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ¡Keith! on April 13, 2009, 02:07:18 AM
Quote
I don't have to like the characters, but I should at least feel as though they are present for more than just a straw-man type lashing by the director.

why?

thats prolly an unfair question though I think yr phrasing may be wrong.  you prefer & enjoy connecting with characters but if the intent is mockery schadenfreude, satire, what have you 1) is that not just as valid, 2) would you prefer to care about a character who is ostensibly there for the sole porpoise of lampooning?
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Bill Thompson on April 13, 2009, 11:48:56 AM
Election
[/size]

Well, it appears there has been quite a bit of debate raging about this movie. I am decidedly in the non-Pix/FroHam camp, my loyalties rest with Junior, as if that should shock anyone!

I don't understand the argument about satire, because this is definitely a satire. A satire doesn't need to be revelatory or offer anything new, it simply needs to skewer something. That is true for the most basic satires, but Election moves beyond basic in its wit and smarts. Election reminded me of High School and my utter disdain for school elections. Every time it was someone like Tracy against someone like Paul, and I always hated the crap we had to attend. But, my experience was a bit different because I went to an all-boys school. I digress, my point about the satire aspects of Election is that they are dead on, both in tackling and dissecting High School life as well as the idea of democracy. More than anything I loved how Election presented the idea of what we perceive versus the truth of the matter and how we delude ourselves in a self serving manner a good portion of the time.

Election was funny, really funny. Yes, there were certain bits that didn't work, but moments like almost all of Broderick & Witherspoon's acting were funny, and I shouldn't have to explain why the apples and oranges demonstration was hilarious. On the acting front, Broderick was great, but in a lot of ways it was upsetting to be reminded of how much talent Witherspoon does have and then remember that she's wasting it in one bad romantic comedy after another.

My only knock against Election would be some of the small moments near the end where Broderick's character was venturing towards violence, I didn't quite buy that his character would break down that much. I bought him breaking down and rigging the election, but not displaying violent tendencies.

Vs.

Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai
[/size]

Really cool movie, it took me more than one movie to get that there was more than cool present, but from the start I thought this was cool.

As I said somewhere else, French dude=awesome. The rest of the acting was really great, in small ways. The mobsters were all perfect in the aging but don't realize it out of their league small time mobsters who think they are bigger than they actually are. Forrest Whitaker is ideal in his delivery of subtle introspection and philosophy combined with humor.

I dug the action in Ghost Dog, it was to the point and inventive. Perhaps too inventive at times, but there was always a frankness to the action. It came across as a middle ground between James Bond type films and more realistic action dramas. There was just enough action to be fascinating, but it was grounded enough so that it didn't go too far into I can't believe what I'm seeing territory.

I even enjoyed the climax, the part that seems to trouble most people. I liked the tie in to perception and how different people tell different tales of the same act and how in Ghost Dog's death that was what was going to happen. His best friend, Louie, the little girl, all would have different versions and develop differently because of what happened.

Oh yeah, the music, the music was awesome. Sure, it helps that I'm a huge RZA fan, but the music really was extraordinary.

All that being said, I thought at times Ghost Dog was too well supplied with gadgets in his briefcase. I also hated that blur effect, distracting and unnecessary. Lastly, the intertitles and voice over did become a bit too much. Still, don't get me wrong, I loved this movie and it most certainly deserved to leave Rushmore in the dust.

My verdict will come later, but either way Election is a far superior film to Rushmore, so, yeah...
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 13, 2009, 12:12:38 PM
Quote
I don't have to like the characters, but I should at least feel as though they are present for more than just a straw-man type lashing by the director.

why?

thats prolly an unfair question though I think yr phrasing may be wrong.  you prefer & enjoy connecting with characters but if the intent is mockery schadenfreude, satire, what have you 1) is that not just as valid, 2) would you prefer to care about a character who is ostensibly there for the sole porpoise of lampooning?

I present to you: Thank You for Smoking. It is an admitedly flawed film, but it is great satire. It satirizes an entire industry, and it lampoons people on both sides of the equation. But wait, how can this be? I actually care about what will happen to these characters instead of feeling like they all deserve a swift beating? I don't need to feel related to the chracters, and I don't need to feel like they're my friends, but I should at least be engaged by them and be invested in where their stories will go. I never felt any of that while watching Election. I hated the characters and the film itself seemed to hate them even more. I might have been more forgiving had Payne made some kind of interesting point with all of it, but he didn't; he seemed content to just play vengeful god against annoying people.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ¡Keith! on April 13, 2009, 12:20:54 PM
And the biggest flaws in the film are in the scenes where your actually supposed to care about the relationship between the father & son - they feel incongruous to the rest of it - esp that climcatic question fired off at the end of the trial and the pause in Eckhart's response. 
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 13, 2009, 12:27:57 PM
And the biggest flaws in the film are in the scenes where your actually supposed to care about the relationship between the father & son - they feel incongruous to the rest of it - esp that climcatic question fired off at the end of the trial and the pause in Eckhart's response. 

Well, I think that has more to do with a flaw in the writing and direcing. The film keeps somewhat of a cold distance for the most part, and in those really close familial moments it doesn't work quite as it should. But even with the cold distancing tone of most of the film I still felt invested in all the characters. Even the characters you weren't supposed to like (Bill H. Macy) carry an emotional or intellectual investment. And what's more, they are all in service of some great social satire.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: edgar00 on April 13, 2009, 12:54:10 PM
And the biggest flaws in the film are in the scenes where your actually supposed to care about the relationship between the father & son - they feel incongruous to the rest of it - esp that climcatic question fired off at the end of the trial and the pause in Eckhart's response. 

Well, I think that has more to do with a flaw in the writing and direcing. The film keeps somewhat of a cold distance for the most part, and in those really close familial moments it doesn't work quite as it should. But even with the cold distancing tone of most of the film I still felt invested in all the characters. Even the characters you weren't supposed to like (Bill H. Macy) carry an emotional or intellectual investment. And what's more, they are all in service of some great social satire.

I don't know about you, but for me that had to do with Eckhart's acting and what he brought to the character. It also helps if one simply finds cocky, smart-ass characters like his amusing, which I do. I can think of a number of people who didn't like the film because they had the polar opposite reaction to the Eckhart character.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: skjerva on April 13, 2009, 01:17:43 PM
I haven't seen Dark City, but from what I remember a lot of people let it pass into deeper rounds of the bracket because it's good, flawed, but has a lot of potential.


yeah, i obviously didn't find any reason to move either film forward, i was hoping someone would point something out i might have missed.  my take is that True Romance has the misogyny and racism to hold it back.  i think Bill's claim that TR is more typical is also worthwhile, though i don't think there is anything too special about Dark City, i'll put it through.


i had Election versus My Voyage to Italy and moved Election on.  while i think most of my decision was based on how terribly disappointing (read: bad) Voyage was, i did appreciate the potential feminist criticism to be found in Election, i wrote:

This film is uneasily about the zealousness that women must exhibit to get ahead recognizing there is a glass ceiling, of course, combined with the uneasiness of men when women are capable and driven.

The sub-narratives of McAllister cheating on his wife with a family best friend as well as adopted sister Tammy’s lesbianism all work to deflate centering of the male ego.  In all, an entertaining and worthwhile film.

i'm not sure i thought a lot about it, it was good, but not great, though i'd be interested to do a more thorough feminist analysis of it.  i reckon many of the complaints i had with it are shared by others.  it's been awhile since i've watched Ghost Dog, but i'm pretty sure i'd push it throgh.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Thor on April 13, 2009, 01:44:17 PM
It's interesting that so many of you are struggling with Election because you can't find a character to empathize with... would the equivalent be a refusal to vote in an election because you don't identify with any of the candidates?

Also, Ghost Dog rules, so whatever, man. I ain't got no vote in this country anyway.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: edgar00 on April 13, 2009, 01:53:49 PM
It's interesting that so many of you are struggling with Election because you can't find a character to empathize with... would the equivalent be a refusal to vote in an election because you don't identify with any of the candidates?

Also, Ghost Dog rules, so whatever, man. I ain't got no vote in this country anyway.

I understand the logic of your analogy, but I think that might be stretching things a bit far. It's easier to dismiss a film because one doesn't like any of the characters then to not have a say in who the next decision maker of your country is because you don't identify with the candidates.

I'll chuck the movie out of the bracket but I'll take the time to weigh my voting options and actually go out and vote.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 13, 2009, 02:09:03 PM
It's interesting that so many of you are struggling with Election because you can't find a character to empathize with... would the equivalent be a refusal to vote in an election because you don't identify with any of the candidates?

For me, at least, it's not that I can't identify with the characters, I can, all of them in all their flaws.  I just don't know who I'm supposed to be rooting for.  That doesn't make the film bad, it just makes me confused.

Oddly, I think skjerva, of all people, comes closest to capturing what Payne's really trying to argue with the film.  So now, in addition to being confused, I am scared.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: jbissell on April 13, 2009, 02:59:54 PM
It's interesting that so many of you are struggling with Election because you can't find a character to empathize with... would the equivalent be a refusal to vote in an election because you don't identify with any of the candidates?

For me, at least, it's not that I can't identify with the characters, I can, all of them in all their flaws.  I just don't know who I'm supposed to be rooting for.  That doesn't make the film bad, it just makes me confused.

Oddly, I think skjerva, of all people, comes closest to capturing what Payne's really trying to argue with the film.  So now, in addition to being confused, I am scared.

It certainly isn't far-fetched, especially considering Payne's film before Election was Citizen Ruth (which I just realized didn't make the bracket)
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 13, 2009, 03:22:01 PM
The only other Payne feature I've seen is About Schmidt, I like Election a lot more than that film.  I dig the zany style: multiple voiceovers, freeze frames and such.  I recall Schmidt as very restrained, if not dull.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ¡Keith! on April 13, 2009, 03:36:42 PM
Dear Ndugu...
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 13, 2009, 04:08:35 PM
Meh.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 13, 2009, 04:15:22 PM
It's interesting that so many of you are struggling with Election because you can't find a character to empathize with... would the equivalent be a refusal to vote in an election because you don't identify with any of the candidates?

For me, at least, it's not that I can't identify with the characters, I can, all of them in all their flaws.  I just don't know who I'm supposed to be rooting for.  That doesn't make the film bad, it just makes me confused.

Oddly, I think skjerva, of all people, comes closest to capturing what Payne's really trying to argue with the film.  So now, in addition to being confused, I am scared.

The feminist angle is there, and it sure is an interesting one. I just don't think it helps the case when the only driven female is also annoying as hell. And she isn't annoying because she's driven, she's annoying because she was written that way and acted that way.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 13, 2009, 05:12:34 PM
I didn't think she was annoying.  I was surprised at how sympathetic she was.  Ten years ago a thought she was a monster.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: jbissell on April 13, 2009, 05:27:01 PM
I didn't think she was annoying.  I was surprised at how sympathetic she was.  Ten years ago a thought she was a monster.

Definitely.  As I mentioned in my verdict last round, that character really struck a chord with me in high school but watching it now, I definitely felt more sympathetic.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 13, 2009, 06:07:05 PM
None of my other complaints about Election would really matter if I had been laughing throughout the film.  But that wasn't the case.  Too much of the humor was too obvious, a problem made even worse by Payne's tendency to telegraph his jokes.  A few examples:

(http://i40.tinypic.com/214thjs.jpg)

(http://i39.tinypic.com/2n21qe.jpg)

(http://i40.tinypic.com/34dswoi.jpg)

(http://i41.tinypic.com/2lat0gk.jpg)

(http://i43.tinypic.com/2ekjcj5.jpg)

First off, the idea of Paul reading The Celestine Prophecy to find direction in his life when he can't play football, that's just an empty gag.  It doesn't really seem in character for him, but, whatever, no big deal.  My problem here is the slow pull back of the camera. As soon as it starts, we know this is the exact moment McAlliister is going to recruit Paul.  The script tries to make a joke out of it by having Paul narrate, "Then one day destiny just walks up and taps you on the shoulder." — but we already see the tap on the shoulder coming, so there's no surprise or humor there.  The script is a step behind its audience.  That the joke is dragged out even longer by an additional unnecessary setup line ("I know because it happened to me") makes it all the more unfortunate.

I know some people like this kind of thing.  I hear them in the theater whispering to their friends, "LOL! I bet that teacher is really about to tap him on the shoulder!"  But it does nothing for me.  It's like the classic example where we see a guy walking unsuspectingly towards a banana peel in the street.  In the bad comedy version, the guy steps on the banana peel and slips.  But in the good version, the guy oh-so-carefully steps over the banana peel, only to fall through a manhole cover.  Too much of Election is the bad version.

(http://i43.tinypic.com/2e1zvnn.jpg)

(http://i39.tinypic.com/iwma1x.jpg)

(http://i43.tinypic.com/24odnok.jpg)

(http://i41.tinypic.com/2w71kqp.jpg)

(http://i44.tinypic.com/wlspad.jpg)

(http://i39.tinypic.com/5f2ka0.jpg)

Okay, no joke there really.  Just a setup.  We know Tracy's a perfectionist, so of course the dangling corner bothers her (though I think that'd be true of most anyone).  The last look she gives the poster is sort of endearing.

(http://i39.tinypic.com/ipd3r4.jpg)
Okay, guess what's gonna happen now.

(http://i40.tinypic.com/aeuvz7.jpg)
Nope, guess again.

(http://i41.tinypic.com/ibz71c.jpg)
Nope, guess again.

(http://i41.tinypic.com/2s0mvja.jpg)
Nope, guess again.

(http://i41.tinypic.com/2euorr7.jpg)
Nope, guess again.

(http://i41.tinypic.com/se3gg8.jpg)
Haha, fooled you!  You were right the first time.

...because the joke is obvious and generic and completely telegraphed by the camera position.  Again, there's no joy in that for me.  When thing's play out exactly like I expect them to play out, I don't laugh.  I just get bored.

Okay, take two:

(http://i44.tinypic.com/2s0xpu8.jpg)
Uh oh!

(http://i43.tinypic.com/4v49ip.jpg)

(http://i39.tinypic.com/11cfa15.jpg)
Oh, geez, that doesn't look stable at all.

(http://i39.tinypic.com/345n66u.jpg)

(http://i42.tinypic.com/4rpbwy.jpg)

(http://i42.tinypic.com/nb7zg3.jpg)

(http://i41.tinypic.com/1ar0g.jpg)

Okay, if Tracy fell right here, the joke might have worked.  She's smoothed out the poster just long enough and with enough care to half make me forget that she's standing on the trash can.  So if right now she wiped completely out of the frame and took the poster with her, it might have been funny.

That's not how Payne rolls, though.  Rather than surprise us, he dumbs shit down and needlessly reminds us of the situtation:

(http://i44.tinypic.com/2hwfvcj.jpg)
This can't end well!

(http://i39.tinypic.com/259bq8k.jpg)
Danger!  Danger!

(http://i44.tinypic.com/2ew13za.jpg)
Oh noes!  Here she goes!

(http://i42.tinypic.com/2d1jv2u.jpg)
LOL!  Betcha didn't see that coming!

(http://i42.tinypic.com/349530w.jpg)

(http://i39.tinypic.com/1zxb37p.jpg)

(http://i42.tinypic.com/2rd84yr.jpg)

(http://i39.tinypic.com/28711zo.jpg)

(http://i39.tinypic.com/ilvcxg.jpg)

(http://i42.tinypic.com/23itllf.jpg)
She's sad, frustrated, and probably in pain!  HAHAHAHAHA!

I think direction like this is why so many people accuse Payne of rejoicing in his characters' misery and mocking his characters.  Because he sabotages the humor of a moment like this, I'm left to wonder why I just watched all that.  If it had been funny, fine, but instead I'm left wondering if I'm just supposed to find sadistic satisifaction in the fact that she got hers.

For the record, I don't accuse Payne of those things.  I just don't think he's got a very good handle on comedy.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 13, 2009, 07:41:58 PM
I don't really have a problem with either of those scenes.  Not all comedy is shock, it can be suspense as well.  Payne uses both techniques (eg the cut to Dave's introductory comment about Tracy).
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Bill Thompson on April 13, 2009, 07:46:47 PM
I don't really have a problem with either of those scenes.  Not all comedy is shock, it can be suspense as well.  Payne uses both techniques (eg the cut to Dave's introductory comment about Tracy).

What he said.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: skjerva on April 13, 2009, 08:02:07 PM

Oddly, I think skjerva, of all people, comes closest to capturing what Payne's really trying to argue with the film.  So now, in addition to being confused, I am scared.

:)
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: edgar00 on April 13, 2009, 08:03:08 PM
I'm with pixote on this one. Those scenes weren't very funny I felt.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 13, 2009, 08:12:49 PM
Pixote. I am in total agreement with you. Also, your movie with the giant CINECAST!ing robots was super-awesome!
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Junior on April 13, 2009, 08:15:43 PM
I'm with Sean and Bill here. We win. 3-2. Next point.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Bill Thompson on April 13, 2009, 08:25:56 PM
I'm with Sean and Bill here. We win. 3-2. Next point.

What he said.  ;D
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: edgar00 on April 13, 2009, 08:33:59 PM
I'm with Sean and Bill here. We win. 3-2. Next point.

Let's make it a best of 7.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 13, 2009, 09:01:43 PM
Not all comedy is shock, it can be suspense as well.

There was no suspense in those moments, though.  It was all predictable and inevitable.  At least for me.  Did anyone find those moments to be laugh out loud funny?  If so, can you pinpoint why?

Also, what are the most hilarious scenes in the movie for everyone?

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: edgar00 on April 13, 2009, 09:05:55 PM
Not all comedy is shock, it can be suspense as well.

There was no suspense in those moments, though.  It was all predictable and inevitable.  At least for me.  Did anyone find those moments to be laugh out loud funny?  If so, can you pinpoint why?

Also, what are the most hilarious scenes in the movie for everyone?

pixote

To be fair, it is very possible to build suspense by letting the audience know that something wrong might happen to the characters while not making those very characters privy to that knowledge. The old 'bomb under the table' trick is an example. I may be stretching things, but you get the idea.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 13, 2009, 09:34:47 PM
One more example of my problems with the film's execution and the tendency to undercut something cool by dumbing it down:  Near the end of the film, there's a nice moment where McAllister is caught in his coverup, and he sees the janitor standing there next the principal.  And the janitor gives McAllister this knowing look that says, "You probably don't remember that time you threw Chinese food on the floor, but I do.  How's this payback taste?"

(http://i43.tinypic.com/2gv3ple.jpg)

It's a really nice payoff on something from way back in the opening credits... right up until the moment Payne ruins everything by giving us a f—king flashback insert of the Chinese food missing the garbage can.

(http://i44.tinypic.com/svi82w.jpg)

God, made me want to hurt someone.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: jbissell on April 13, 2009, 09:41:35 PM
You raise some valid points re: Payne's telegraphing.  The first two examples don't bother me so much, but you're dead on about the janitor flashback.  Give the audience a little credit for paying attention to the film.

My response to all of it is this: finely dissecting what is funny to one person and not to another makes everything unfunny.  Ultimately it comes down to taste.  I could try to justify why I find something funny but it's not going to change anyone's opinion so really, what's the point?
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 13, 2009, 09:42:55 PM
(http://i41.tinypic.com/3445mix.jpg)

My favorite still from the film.

And now I'm out of things to say, I think.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: jbissell on April 13, 2009, 09:49:32 PM
(http://i41.tinypic.com/3445mix.jpg)

My favorite still from the film.

And now I'm out of things to say, I think.

pixote

Ghost Dog shots please.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Junior on April 13, 2009, 09:51:51 PM
Things I really, really liked:

The first 30 minutes or so.

The speeches

That still pix picked out up there.

Something else I can't remember.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on April 13, 2009, 10:42:49 PM
I think direction like this is why so many people accuse Payne of rejoicing in his characters' misery and mocking his characters.  Because he sabotages the humor of a moment like this, I'm left to wonder why I just watched all that.  If it had been funny, fine, but instead I'm left wondering if I'm just supposed to find sadistic satisifaction in the fact that she got hers.
I hate this kind of comedy. In fact, I think I hate all films that mock pain.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Bill Thompson on April 13, 2009, 10:44:12 PM
I think direction like this is why so many people accuse Payne of rejoicing in his characters' misery and mocking his characters.  Because he sabotages the humor of a moment like this, I'm left to wonder why I just watched all that.  If it had been funny, fine, but instead I'm left wondering if I'm just supposed to find sadistic satisifaction in the fact that she got hers.
I hate this kind of comedy. In fact, I think I hate all films that mock pain.

Why? Pain is just another emotion, no different than the rest. It's open to ridicule and mockery and can be just as funny as any other emotion.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Thor on April 13, 2009, 10:48:14 PM
- NOW WHAT THE CINECAST! IS HIS NAME?!
- Ghost Dog.
- GHOST … DOG?
- He said *Ghost Dog*.
- Yeah, a lot of these black guys, these gangster type guys, they got all kinds a funny names.
- He means like the rappers. You know, the rappers. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Ice Cube, Q Tip, Method Man. My favourite was always Flava Flav from Public Enemy:*We got the funky fresh fly flavour, live lyrics from the back of reality, we kick the flyest dope, a movin’ technicality, to a dope track*… I love that guy…
- Well I don’t know about that, but it makes me think about Indians. They got names like Crazy Horse, Running Bear, Red Cloud; Black Elk. MMmmmmmoooooooooooooooo!

Now that, my friends, is how you do funny.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 14, 2009, 12:18:18 AM
You raise some valid points re: Payne's telegraphing.  The first two examples don't bother me so much, but you're dead on about the janitor flashback.  Give the audience a little credit for paying attention to the film.

My response to all of it is this: finely dissecting what is funny to one person and not to another makes everything unfunny.  Ultimately it comes down to taste.  I could try to justify why I find something funny but it's not going to change anyone's opinion so really, what's the point?

I agree with everything in this post.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: roujin on April 14, 2009, 12:19:03 AM
I agree with everything in Thor's post.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Junior on April 14, 2009, 12:22:15 AM
- NOW WHAT THE CINECAST! IS HIS NAME?!
- Ghost Dog.
- GHOST … DOG?
- He said *Ghost Dog*.
- Yeah, a lot of these black guys, these gangster type guys, they got all kinds a funny names.
- He means like the rappers. You know, the rappers. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Ice Cube, Q Tip, Method Man. My favourite was always Flava Flav from Public Enemy:*We got the funky fresh fly flavour, live lyrics from the back of reality, we kick the flyest dope, a movin’ technicality, to a dope track*… I love that guy…
- Well I don’t know about that, but it makes me think about Indians. They got names like Crazy Horse, Running Bear, Red Cloud; Black Elk. MMmmmmmoooooooooooooooo!

Now that, my friends, is how you do funny.

That was one of the best parts of the film for sure. I was kind of surprised by how funny it was.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 14, 2009, 12:35:14 AM
- NOW WHAT THE CINECAST! IS HIS NAME?!
- Ghost Dog.
- GHOST … DOG?
- He said *Ghost Dog*.
- Yeah, a lot of these black guys, these gangster type guys, they got all kinds a funny names.
- He means like the rappers. You know, the rappers. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Ice Cube, Q Tip, Method Man. My favourite was always Flava Flav from Public Enemy:*We got the funky fresh fly flavour, live lyrics from the back of reality, we kick the flyest dope, a movin’ technicality, to a dope track*… I love that guy…
- Well I don’t know about that, but it makes me think about Indians. They got names like Crazy Horse, Running Bear, Red Cloud; Black Elk. MMmmmmmoooooooooooooooo!

Now that, my friends, is how you do funny.

That was one of the best parts of the film for sure. I was kind of surprised by how funny it was.

That was one of those scenes where at first I though maybe it was just really poorly done, and as it continued it dawned on me how brilliant the writing and acting and directing all were and I started laughing to the point where I had to pause the movie.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 14, 2009, 09:39:43 AM
You raise some valid points re: Payne's telegraphing.  The first two examples don't bother me so much, but you're dead on about the janitor flashback.  Give the audience a little credit for paying attention to the film.

My response to all of it is this: finely dissecting what is funny to one person and not to another makes everything unfunny.  Ultimately it comes down to taste.  I could try to justify why I find something funny but it's not going to change anyone's opinion so really, what's the point?

I agree with everything in this post.

I'm still curious to know which elements of humor in the film work best for you and how funny you find the movie overall.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 14, 2009, 09:59:39 AM
My response to all of it is this: finely dissecting what is funny to one person and not to another makes everything unfunny.  Ultimately it comes down to taste.  I could try to justify why I find something funny but it's not going to change anyone's opinion so really, what's the point?
Nuts. (http://www.filmspotting.net/boards/index.php?topic=2536.msg196211#msg196211)

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 14, 2009, 10:43:22 AM
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

I'll get it out of the way first: No, Rushmore should not have been kicked out of the bracket by this film. That makes me a little angry, but at least this film is good enough to make me forget that anger, at least for a little while.

What a splendidly unique film this is. It's some sort of hybrid comedy and tragedy, and it's a cheesy mob movie mixed with a cheesy samurai movie and somehow that makes it simultaneously more fun and far deeper.

I really don't have much to say about this film aside from the following two points:

1. I love the dialogue, but especially the dialogue between Ghost Dog and Louie. It's hilarious stuff, and at the same time it speaks very well to the strength found in the best of friendships. That inherent understanding is beautiful, and the movie uses it as a gag that never gets tired.

2. The way Ghost Dog incorporates the way of the samurai into his everyday life is hilarious. The obvious one to point out is how he holsters his gun as though it were a sword. But I really love the way he inserts CDs into the decks in the cars he steals. There's a grace to that motion that is so samurai-like. That's right. Ghost Dog even inserts CDs like a samurai. It's brilliant, whether it was an acting decision or a directing decision.

Ghost Dog moves on way easily, but I so much wish it hadn't kicked out Rushmore.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Bill Thompson on April 14, 2009, 10:52:23 AM
I suppose I'll give my verdict. I loved Ghost Dog, a lot. But, in the end it's not as good of a film as Election, which I also loved. So, Election moves on in a close contest, and man am I happy Ghost Dog eliminated Rushmore last round so we were spared the one sided affair that would have been Election over Rushmore in this round.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 14, 2009, 11:09:44 AM
I suppose I'll give my verdict. I loved Ghost Dog, a lot. But, in the end it's not as good of a film as Election, which I also loved. So, Election moves on in a close contest, and man am I happy Ghost Dog eliminated Rushmore last round so we were spared the one sided affair that would have been Election over Rushmore in this round.

That is perposterous!
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: mañana on April 14, 2009, 11:11:01 AM
You raise some valid points re: Payne's telegraphing.  The first two examples don't bother me so much, but you're dead on about the janitor flashback.  Give the audience a little credit for paying attention to the film.

My response to all of it is this: finely dissecting what is funny to one person and not to another makes everything unfunny.  Ultimately it comes down to taste.  I could try to justify why I find something funny but it's not going to change anyone's opinion so really, what's the point?

I agree with everything in this post.

I guess you just don't share the sense of humour used in the film pix, but I am surprised with your issues with the scene where Tracy falls while trying to fix her sign. I've always thought that was a pretty good sequence. It's not really laugh-out-loud funny, but there's a certain irresistibly in the way it's presented as a scene from a thriller/procedural; we know she's going to fall and that's what makes it compelling. You say Payne sabotages the humour, I'm not really sure what that means. That scene where Paul gets tapped on the shoulder isn't as good but it's never been an issue for me.

I think direction like this is why so many people accuse Payne of rejoicing in his characters' misery and mocking his characters.

For the record Election is the only Payne film I like, and I might be temped to play the "mocking his characters" card with some of his other films. But I actually think it's an oversimplification of what's going on in Election. Perhaps there is some degree of mocking (it's a black comedy, deal with it) but I think Payne does a nice job of subverting our sympathies; from scene to scene our loyalties shift which adds complexity rather than merely looking down on the characters. When you're getting one character's perspective our view of other characters shift, and then that falls apart from somebody else's perspective. People in the forum have been saying that when they first saw the film they thought Tracy was a monster and now they don't feel that way anymore, I'd argue that both views of Tracy have always been present in the film. It just depends on whose version of the story (or "platform", get it?) you're persuaded by. 

Maybe he does mock his characters, but I think there's an inherent fairness in allowing the audience to view this world from multiple perspectives. And I think this is by design, as evidenced by the multiple narrators. I'd also add that this multiple perspectives/narrator device works nicely with the the film's political competition motif.     

I just don't know who I'm supposed to be rooting for.  That doesn't make the film bad, it just makes me confused.

I'd say that's a strength of the film. See above.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 14, 2009, 11:25:01 AM
Thanks for the response, matt.  I'll try to reply later in more detail (though I need to move on to Ghost Dog), but for now I'll just clarify that I don't personally have any problem with the mocking the characters thing; that's not my issue.  I was just offering a possible explanation of where that criticism might stem from here.  Also, I like your take on the multiple narrators and perspectives, but I feel that the film largely abandons that strategy after the first act, to its detriment.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: jbissell on April 14, 2009, 11:27:04 AM
You raise some valid points re: Payne's telegraphing.  The first two examples don't bother me so much, but you're dead on about the janitor flashback.  Give the audience a little credit for paying attention to the film.

My response to all of it is this: finely dissecting what is funny to one person and not to another makes everything unfunny.  Ultimately it comes down to taste.  I could try to justify why I find something funny but it's not going to change anyone's opinion so really, what's the point?

I agree with everything in this post.

I'm still curious to know which elements of humor in the film work best for you and how funny you find the movie overall.

pixote

I think it's funny, but not hilarious; my favorite thing about the film is the performances, not the humor (although most of my favorite moments stem from the performances, like Reese's expressions/body language).  One of the funniest moments for me is the apples and oranges comparison.  I know some people have said that they don't like humor that laughs at pain, but that really isn't an issue for me.  I find Rushmore to be a much funnier (and overall, better) film, but that's irrelevant at this point I suppose.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ¡Keith! on April 14, 2009, 11:33:18 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mV1LWhNpTJU# (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mV1LWhNpTJU#)
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Bill Thompson on April 14, 2009, 11:35:25 AM
I suppose I'll give my verdict. I loved Ghost Dog, a lot. But, in the end it's not as good of a film as Election, which I also loved. So, Election moves on in a close contest, and man am I happy Ghost Dog eliminated Rushmore last round so we were spared the one sided affair that would have been Election over Rushmore in this round.

That is perposterous true!
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 14, 2009, 11:37:05 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mV1LWhNpTJU# (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mV1LWhNpTJU#)

But that example isn't just about laughing at the pain and misery of another. It's a gag that works on so many levels (the ball, his groin, etc.)
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: mañana on April 14, 2009, 11:38:47 AM
I don't personally have any problem with the mocking the characters thing; that's not my issue. 

I did notice that you stated that it wasn't an issue for you, but it comes up in every review so I thought I'd toss in my two cents.

Also, I like your take on the multiple narrators and perspectives, but I feel that the film largely abandons that strategy after the first act, to its detriment.

You're right, it is abandoned at some point, exactly when I don't remember. But I'm not so strict about schematic changes like that so it's absence didn't really bother me.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Junior on April 14, 2009, 12:29:54 PM
I suppose I'll give my verdict. I loved Ghost Dog, a lot. But, in the end it's not as good of a film as Election, which I also loved. So, Election moves on in a close contest, and man am I happy Ghost Dog eliminated Rushmore last round so we were spared the one sided affair that would have been Election over Rushmore in this round.

I couldn't agree more. This is basically exactly what I was going to write. Unless pix or Sean or frohamp can convince me why Ghost Dog is better.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 14, 2009, 12:56:12 PM
I suppose I'll give my verdict. I loved Ghost Dog, a lot. But, in the end it's not as good of a film as Election, which I also loved. So, Election moves on in a close contest, and man am I happy Ghost Dog eliminated Rushmore last round so we were spared the one sided affair that would have been Election over Rushmore in this round.

I couldn't agree more. This is basically exactly what I was going to write. Unless pix or Sean or frohamp can convince me why Ghost Dog is better.

I can't. and I guess it doesn't make a difference anyway. Yay!
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 14, 2009, 01:38:47 PM
I'm still curious to know which elements of humor in the film work best for you and how funny you find the movie overall.

pixote

It's still funny.  This was probably the forth time I'd seen the film, but the first in several years, but I laughed fairly often.  Chris Klein's narration ("I sure was surprised the day Lisa Flanagan asked me for a ride home and ended up blowing me." etc) was probably the funniest part of the film for me, his deadpan, monotone delivery gives it all a charming bewilderment.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 14, 2009, 01:55:16 PM

I really don't have much to say about this film aside from the following two points:

1. I love the dialogue, but especially the dialogue between Ghost Dog and Louie. It's hilarious stuff, and at the same time it speaks very well to the strength found in the best of friendships. That inherent understanding is beautiful, and the movie uses it as a gag that never gets tired.

2. The way Ghost Dog incorporates the way of the samurai into his everyday life is hilarious. The obvious one to point out is how he holsters his gun as though it were a sword. But I really love the way he inserts CDs into the decks in the cars he steals. There's a grace to that motion that is so samurai-like. That's right. Ghost Dog even inserts CDs like a samurai. It's brilliant, whether it was an acting decision or a directing decision.


I agree with all of this.

I like how the film slowly builds thematically, adding various elements from history (and movie depictions of history) slowly together to make some kind of cohesive argument about the persistence and equivalence of various human cultures and types.  Samurai, gangsters, gangstas, Indians all coming together at the end of the world (does any film feel more "1999" than this one?).  This is both deflated and expanded by the relationship between Ghost Dog and both the Ice Cream man (humanity extended horizontally across space: they don't speak the same language, but they understand each other perfectly) and the little girl (expansion across time, she's a young Ghost Dog who will, too, learn The Way Of The Samurai).

I'm curious why Bill thinks it's not as good as Election.  Aesthetically, the film's only flaw, for me, was the blurred motion during Whitaker's workouts.  I understood the purpose of it but it can't help looking a bit too cheap. Other than that, Jarmusch's minimalist style is a perfect match for the type of serenity at the core of both the film and the lead character.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 14, 2009, 02:04:17 PM
Don't forget that the film as retroactively become part of Lost mythology. That alone puts the film over the edge.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: roujin on April 14, 2009, 02:09:14 PM
Chris Klein's narration ("I sure was surprised the day Lisa Flanagan asked me for a ride home and ended up blowing me." etc) was probably the funniest part of the film for me, his deadpan, monotone delivery gives it all a charming bewilderment.

(http://i40.tinypic.com/2e50go6.jpg)

Me, too.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 14, 2009, 02:19:36 PM
I think I'd like that Chris Klein bit more on another viewing.  This time around I was too distracted by the feeling that Klein seemed to be doing a bad Keanu impression the whole time.  But I guess that's just who he is?

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ¡Keith! on April 14, 2009, 02:23:10 PM
I think I'd like that Chris Klein bit more on another viewing.  This time around I was too distracted by the feeling that Klein seemed to be doing a bad Keanu impression the whole time.  But I guess that's just who he is?

pixote

I think its a case of good casting.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 14, 2009, 02:30:32 PM
He's good in American Pie too.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: roujin on April 14, 2009, 02:35:06 PM
Indeed.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 14, 2009, 09:13:02 PM
(http://i42.tinypic.com/2z6hzrn.png)
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai  (Jim Jarmusch, 1999)

- Well I don’t know about that, but it makes me think about Indians. They got names like Crazy Horse, Running Bear, Red Cloud; Black Elk. MMmmmmmoooooooooooooooo!

Now that, my friends, is how you do funny.
Heh.  One of my first notes on Ghost Dog was that, as early as that scene, the movie already had me laughing more than Election did in its entirety.  I might actually have made that note even earlier, with the priceless scene of Louie struggling to give the pigeon his message.  It's so great because at first we don't even know what's going on there, why there's a bird flying around this house or anything like that.  Only when Louie says, "Goddamnit, Vin, this is ridiculous.  I can't write this f—king small," does it all click — hilariously.  Then the absurdity of this old school mobster guy trying to fit his fortune cookie message onto the pigeon's leg just kills me, put beautifully over the top with the line, "Easy now, Mr. Chicken.  Easy."

That was one of those scenes where at first I though maybe it was just really poorly done, and as it continued it dawned on me how brilliant the writing and acting and directing all were and I started laughing to the point where I had to pause the movie.
Yeah, there's a bit of awkwardness to the first sit-down scene, partly because the acting by a couple of the mobsters is rough at times and partly because, in contrast to the cool, slick style of Ghost Dog's scenes, the formal, perpendicular style here in the drabby room feels very off at first (though soon starts to make perfect sense).  But once Louie starts describing what little he knows about Ghost Dog and the three guys across the table just stare back at him with more and more incredulity, it's wonderful.

Then, in my favorite exchange, every character in the room gets the perfect line.  First, Sonny:  "Hold it, hold it, hold it.  Did you say he contacts you through a f—king bird? Did I just hear you say that?"  But before Louie can answer, Ray adds his own question in that amazing Ricardo-Montablan-on-quaaludes voice of his:  "What particular species... of bird?"  When Louie answers, "It's a pigeon," his face is just perfect, like he's thinking, "Oh god, please don't let them shoot me in the head the second these words leave my mouth."  And then, once he adds, "Must be like a carrier pigeon or whatever," Joe Rags sputters out, in what I think is his first line in the whole film, "PASSENGER PIGEON.  PASSENGER PIGEON'S BEEN EXTINCT SINCE 1914."  It's the funniest thing ever, right up until a few minutes later when, seemingly out of nowhere, the mobster boss moos like a wounded cow.  It's totally surreal yet totally credible at the same time.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 14, 2009, 09:33:30 PM
What a splendidly unique film this is. It's some sort of hybrid comedy and tragedy, and it's a cheesy mob movie mixed with a cheesy samurai movie and somehow that makes it simultaneously more fun and far deeper.

Yeah, just the idea of Ghost Dog himself is totally brilliant: hip-hop-samurai-mob-hitman.  What a pitch.  Such an appealing blend.  And then there's also this underlying tragedy to this character.  At first, his way of the samurai seems so cool and enviable.  Everyone on the street seems to know and respect him.  But as the movie unfolds, he just seems sadder and sadder — and even sociopathic, really.

The film as a whole is very similar.  It starts off as this sleek, cool, dialogue-free hitman film — with philosophic leanings — then works in some hilarious comedy before pulling back from both those things and becoming a character piece for a while, starting I think with the first scene in the park.  That might be the key scene that holds the film together for me.  Pearline and Raymond give the film heart, really.  They act as foils to Ghost Dog and the mob guys, I think, sort of representing the present and the future, as opposed to the old ways.  Every time Isaach De Bankolé smiles — and I hope he finds reason to smile in The Limits of Control because he's got such a fantastic smile — it's like a tantalizing reminder of what might have been for Ghost Dog in he hadn't almost died four years earlier in that alley, or of what could still be if he could escape the self-imposed exile of his code.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 14, 2009, 09:35:36 PM
"Must be like a carrier pigeon or whatever," Joe Rags sputters out, in what I think is his first line in the whole film, "PASSENGER PIGEON.  PASSENGER PIGEON'S BEEN EXTINCT SINCE 1914."
pixote

I also love the more slight comedy of the term Passenger pigeon actually being wrong. Carrier pigeon was correct in the first place.


Also when I mentioned Louie before I obviously meant Raymond.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 14, 2009, 10:02:09 PM
1. I love the dialogue, but especially the dialogue between Ghost Dog and Louie. It's hilarious stuff, and at the same time it speaks very well to the strength found in the best of friendships. That inherent understanding is beautiful, and the movie uses it as a gag that never gets tired.
Some of the dialogue didn't work for me this time around.  In fact, throughout the film, Jarmusch's writing and direction often seemed simultaneously craftsmanlike and amateurish.  I can't quite explain it.  But often within a single moment, I'd find myself thinking, "omg! that's brilliant!" and "omg! wtf are you thinking?" at the same time.  I'm not sure any perfect examples, but, like, compare the sound effect when Ghost Dog puts away his gun with the blurred motion in his workouts.  One is a brilliantly assured little touch and the other is just kind of mind-boggling awful.  I mean, I'm glad he tries things like that, but I can't imagine seeing that in the editing room and thinking it worked.

So, getting back to the dialogue, the main thing that fell flat for me is the way Ghost Dog and Raymond end up saying the same exact things even though they don't understand each other's languages.  I like the idea of that, but in terms of technique it just seemed way too on-point and belabored to me.

There are quite a few moments like that where Jarmusch seems more concerned with the larger ideas of the film than with how well things fit in a given scene or how they affect the film's flow.  One small example (to nitpick) is the way the mobsters are always watching old cartoons that you can't even find on tv anymore (Betty Boop, Felix the Cat).  Thematically, it's perfect.  However, it just seemed a bit overly precious to me, and distractingly so.  Along the same lines, I didn't really like the fact that the daughter was reading Akutagawa.  It's a minor thing, but I wanted Ghost Dog to be totally unique in this world, and for another character to be reading Japanese literature compromised that, if only a little.

Then there's the intertitles.  I'm really torn about those.  Overall, I like them, but I found myself wishing Jarmusch could have integrated them a little better — like, maybe drop the cards after the first act and just rely on voiceover.  I dunno.  It wasn't a huge problem, really, except the one time we had to hear the same quote twice in a row (about a samurai with his head cut off).  But, at a certain point, the film did become a bit ponderous, I think.

I had a few issues with the editing (which especially interested me because the same guy cut the first three episodes and counting of Homicide: Life on the Street).  I thought the second flashback to the alley scene was totally unnecessary; I didn't like a lot of the fades to black; and then a few edits here and there just felt off.

Last complaints, before I go back into praise mode: I don't know if it was just the acting or the writing as well, but the scene with the cop pulling the mob guys over, that was awful.  And the parallel scene between Ghost Dog and the hunters wasn't that much better.  It struck me as being totally in service to the themes of the film but largely inorganic to the narrative.  But at least we got a cool still out of it.

pixote



(http://i41.tinypic.com/2dqurl.jpg)
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 14, 2009, 10:44:33 PM
I like how the film slowly builds thematically, adding various elements from history (and movie depictions of history) slowly together to make some kind of cohesive argument about the persistence and equivalence of various human cultures and types.  Samurai, gangsters, gangstas, Indians all coming together at the end of the world (does any film feel more "1999" than this one?).
Yeah, the way Jarmusch continues to layer things is superb.  I love the way he can work in something like this and have it feel completely natural:

(http://i39.tinypic.com/256qo9j.jpg)

And this:

(http://i41.tinypic.com/e19a44.jpg)

And (maybe) even this:

(http://i40.tinypic.com/rjfxb8.jpg)

But the quiet moments when characters are alone with themselves are often even more evocative:

(http://i42.tinypic.com/14254k7.jpg)

(http://i42.tinypic.com/2d9e9vo.jpg)

(http://i42.tinypic.com/214sj83.jpg)

Yeah, it's a pretty good movie.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: FroHam X on April 14, 2009, 10:47:33 PM
Yeah, it's a pretty good movie.

pixote

Just not better than Rushmore.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 14, 2009, 10:48:06 PM
Just not better than Rushmore.

Stop living in the past, Ghost Dog.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 14, 2009, 10:49:35 PM
I suppose I'll give my verdict. I loved Ghost Dog, a lot. But, in the end it's not as good of a film as Election, which I also loved. So, Election moves on in a close contest, and man am I happy Ghost Dog eliminated Rushmore last round so we were spared the one sided affair that would have been Election over Rushmore in this round.
I couldn't agree more. This is basically exactly what I was going to write. Unless pix or Sean or frohamp can convince me why Ghost Dog is better.
(http://i44.tinypic.com/33y6ooo.png)

Verdict: I agree with the ice cream man.  For Ghost Dog to lose here would be an unconscienceable travesty.  :)

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Junior on April 14, 2009, 10:58:04 PM
2 vs 2, it seems. Where's our fifth?
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 14, 2009, 11:00:15 PM
2 vs 2, it seems. Where's our fifth?

Does this mean I wasn't persuasive?  :'(

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 14, 2009, 11:29:25 PM
But at least we got a cool still out of it.

pixote



(http://i41.tinypic.com/2dqurl.jpg)

That's a parallel to a shot in Dead Man is it not?  Those two films really compliment each other well (and they both have Nobody in them, of course).
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Junior on April 14, 2009, 11:43:23 PM
2 vs 2, it seems. Where's our fifth?

Does this mean I wasn't persuasive?  :'(

pixote

Unfortunately, yes. Your arguments against Election didn't hold much ground with me and your arguments for Ghost Dog weren't anything I hadn't considered yet. Sorry.  :'( Feel free to keep trying, though.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 15, 2009, 12:04:21 AM
Your arguments against Election didn't hold much ground with me...

Because they were too busy holding water?

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ¡Keith! on April 15, 2009, 12:10:28 AM
Your arguments against Election didn't hold much ground with me...

Because they were too busy holding water?

pixote

No, the defense is wrong. (I think it has something to do with Positraction)

Why isn't that in this bracket... was it even mentioned?
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 15, 2009, 12:12:51 AM
Am I the 5th?  Because I vote Ghost Dog, without a doubt.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 15, 2009, 12:14:25 AM
Am I the 5th?  Because I vote Ghost Dog, without a doubt.
Time to update The Big List (http://theendofcinema.blogspot.com/2005/09/movies-of-year-big-list-2-1976-20.html)!  :)

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Bill Thompson on April 15, 2009, 12:15:24 AM
I suppose I'll give my verdict. I loved Ghost Dog, a lot. But, in the end it's not as good of a film as Election, which I also loved. So, Election moves on in a close contest, and man am I happy Ghost Dog eliminated Rushmore last round so we were spared the one sided affair that would have been Election over Rushmore in this round.

I couldn't agree more. This is basically exactly what I was going to write. Unless pix or Sean or frohamp can convince me why Ghost Dog is better.

Like usual, we are attuned, or some such fancy word.

I'm curious why Bill thinks it's not as good as Election.  Aesthetically, the film's only flaw, for me, was the blurred motion during Whitaker's workouts.  I understood the purpose of it but it can't help looking a bit too cheap. Other than that, Jarmusch's minimalist style is a perfect match for the type of serenity at the core of both the film and the lead character.

For me it comes down to the fact that I didn't find as many flaws in Election. The only major problem I had with Election was McAllister's possible flirting with violence at times. With Ghost Dog I had some major problems with the blur effect and with the voice over narration/intertitles that became a bit too much for me after a while. I really liked, actually loved, Ghost Dog, but I also loved Election. However on a technical level I feel Election was a better film, both in narrative and in not introducing elements I wasn't fond of.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 15, 2009, 12:16:07 AM
Am I the 5th?  Because I vote Ghost Dog, without a doubt.
Time to update The Big List (http://theendofcinema.blogspot.com/2005/09/movies-of-year-big-list-2-1976-20.html)!  :)

pixote
I was afraid of that.  Hadn't looked at it since I rewatched them.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Junior on April 15, 2009, 12:17:24 AM
Ground and water, two of my favorite Planeteers. I always get them confuzzled, though.

Anyways, I'm glad Ghost Dog moves on, too. It is certainly better than Rushmore.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 15, 2009, 12:18:32 AM
Interesting how evenly we split, with the Election voters hating on Rushmore and the Ghost Dog voters praising it.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Junior on April 15, 2009, 12:20:02 AM
That is because Rushmore sucks and, having noticed this, we are better prepared to see a good comedy for what it is.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 15, 2009, 12:20:57 AM
Interesting how evenly we split, with the Election voters hating on Rushmore and the Ghost Dog voters praising it.

pixote

Election and Rushmore being two very different takes on a very similar subject.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Bill Thompson on April 15, 2009, 12:23:53 AM
That is because Rushmore sucks and, having noticed this, we are better prepared to see a good comedy for what it is.

Truth, it hurts.  ;)
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: jbissell on April 15, 2009, 12:31:21 AM
That is because Rushmore sucks and, having noticed this, we are better prepared to see a good comedy for what it is.

I think we've all learned that Junior's comedic sensibilities are severely lacking at times.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Junior on April 15, 2009, 12:34:07 AM
That is because Rushmore sucks and, having noticed this, we are better prepared to see a good comedy for what it is.

I think we've all learned that Junior's comedic sensibilities are severely lacking at times.

Not true.

Good things:
Arrested Development
Futurama

Bad things:
South Park
Seinfeld

See. Perfectly reasonable.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Bill Thompson on April 15, 2009, 12:36:08 AM
Bad things:
South Park
Seinfeld

See. Perfectly reasonable.

And our time of being in tune has ended.  :'(
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: mañana on April 15, 2009, 12:45:23 AM
I guess I need to revisit Ghost Dog, I remember thinking it was OK but certainly not 6th round material. 
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: jbissell on April 15, 2009, 12:47:45 AM
That is because Rushmore sucks and, having noticed this, we are better prepared to see a good comedy for what it is.

I think we've all learned that Junior's comedic sensibilities are severely lacking at times.

Not true.

Good things:
Arrested Development
Futurama

Bad things:
South Park
Seinfeld

See. Perfectly reasonable.

Nothing wrong with the things you like, it's just the ones you don't like that you're wrong about.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 15, 2009, 12:55:17 AM
I guess I need to revisit Ghost Dog, I remember thinking it was OK but certainly not 6th round material. 

I don't quite think it's 6th round material either.  Definitely 4th round, though, at the least.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: mañana on April 15, 2009, 12:57:37 AM
I guess I need to revisit Ghost Dog, I remember thinking it was OK but certainly not 6th round material. 

I don't quite think it's 6th round material either.  Definitely 4th round, though.

pixote

I guess it had an easier playoff schedule than...say...I don't know...Dead Man.  ;)
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: pixote on April 15, 2009, 12:59:23 AM
I guess it had an easier playoff schedule than...say...I don't know...Dead Man.  ;)

I'm maybe alone here in preferring Ghost Dog to Dead Man.  I find the same kinds of flaws in both, but they seem more pronounced in the earlier film, to me.

...I need to watch it again.

pixote
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: jbissell on April 15, 2009, 01:02:39 AM
I guess it had an easier playoff schedule than...say...I don't know...Dead Man.  ;)

I'm maybe alone here in preferring Ghost Dog to Dead Man.  I find the same kinds of flaws in both, but they seem more pronounced in the earlier film, to me.

...I need to watch it again.

pixote

Only one film put me to sleep, and it wasn't Ghost Dog.  I should probably give Dead Man another shot.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: mañana on April 15, 2009, 01:05:59 AM
I guess it had an easier playoff schedule than...say...I don't know...Dead Man.  ;)

I'm maybe alone here in preferring Ghost Dog to Dead Man.  I find the same kinds of flaws in both, but they seem more pronounced in the earlier film, to me.

...I need to watch it again.

pixote

That may be, I just remember Dead Man being such an intense visceral experience, and Ghost Dog being a bit of a novelty. But it's been a while and I should probably see it again. I'm of course getting us off-topic here 'cause DM is long gone.

Only one film put me to sleep, and it wasn't Ghost Dog.  I should probably give Dead Man another shot.

Not even the music kept you awake?
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: jbissell on April 15, 2009, 01:36:38 AM

Only one film put me to sleep, and it wasn't Ghost Dog.  I should probably give Dead Man another shot.

Not even the music kept you awake?

Well it wasn't necessarily entirely the film's fault, it was a class screening and those always put me to sleep.  I even fell asleep in the middle of Passion of the Christ, only to wake up to that weird demon baby thing.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: sdedalus on April 15, 2009, 01:50:04 AM
I guess it had an easier playoff schedule than...say...I don't know...Dead Man.  ;)

Yeah, Dead Man is one of many films better than Ghost Dog that have been eliminated.  But that way madness lies.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ferris on April 15, 2009, 05:06:42 AM
There.

I did it.

I caught up with 224 pages of this thread.  Ferris dazed at moment.  I think I lost track towards the end.  Is there like a visual of the bracket as it stands?  Is someone keeping like a powerpoint slide or something?

Umm, one question before I finally start working on the taxes.  So movies like Fargo and American Beauty were cast aside without any fanfare but y'all go four pages on Election?  I guess I need to see Election

Crap but now I know going in she's gonna' fall off that garbage can.   
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: Tequila on April 15, 2009, 06:25:09 AM
This (http://www.filmspotting.net/boards/index.php?topic=3439.0) should make things a lot more clear.
The thing about Fargo and AB, among others, is that they were kocked out at an earlier stage when a verdict was still produced by a single person, as opposed to the three or five people verdicts we use for the later rounds.
Title: 1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
Post by: ferris on April 15, 2009, 10:25:04 AM
This (http://www.filmspotting.net/boards/index.php?topic=3439.0) should make things a lot more clear.
The thing about Fargo and AB, among others, is that they were kocked out at an earlier stage when a verdict was still produced by a single person, as opposed to the three or five people verdicts we use for the later rounds.

Point well taken