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.