Author Topic: 90s US Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election  (Read 19590 times)

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 33095
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
« Reply #100 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



« Last Edit: April 14, 2009, 11:06:51 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 33095
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
« Reply #101 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:



And this:



And (maybe) even this:



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







Yeah, it's a pretty good movie.

pixote
« Last Edit: April 14, 2009, 10:51:48 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

FroHam X

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 17792
  • “By any seeds necessary.”
    • justAtad
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
« Reply #102 on: April 14, 2009, 10:47:33 PM »
Yeah, it's a pretty good movie.

pixote

Just not better than Rushmore.
"We didn't clean the hamster's cage, the hamster's cage cleaned us!"

Can't get enough FroHam? Read more of my musings at justAtad

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 33095
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
« Reply #103 on: April 14, 2009, 10:48:06 PM »
Just not better than Rushmore.

Stop living in the past, Ghost Dog.

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 33095
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
« Reply #104 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.


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

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

Junior

  • Bert Macklin, FBI
  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 28183
  • What's the rumpus?
    • Benefits of a Classical Education
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
« Reply #105 on: April 14, 2009, 10:58:04 PM »
2 vs 2, it seems. Where's our fifth?
Check out my blog of many topics

“I’m not a quitter, Kimmy! I watched Interstellar all the way to the end!”

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 33095
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
« Reply #106 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
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

sdedalus

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 16589
  • I have a prestigious blog, sir!
    • The End of Cinema
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
« Reply #107 on: April 14, 2009, 11:29:25 PM »
But at least we got a cool still out of it.

pixote





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).
The End of Cinema

Seattle Screen Scene

"He was some kind of a man. What does it matter what you say about people?"

Junior

  • Bert Macklin, FBI
  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 28183
  • What's the rumpus?
    • Benefits of a Classical Education
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
« Reply #108 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.
Check out my blog of many topics

“I’m not a quitter, Kimmy! I watched Interstellar all the way to the end!”

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 33095
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
1990s US Bracket, Round 5: Ghost Dog vs. Election
« Reply #109 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
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.