The Ghost Dog Principle
May 17, 2023 12:50 PM   Subscribe

This is a lovely essay that works on so many levels. Can any human really understand another? Translation is hard for all the reasons stated, but every act of communication is an attempt at translation. I think that’s what Ghost Dog is ultimately about.

Anyway, it’s one of my very favorite films and it’s a damn shame it’s so hard to find on streaming services.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:52 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]

Interesting essay. Love that movie and most of Jarmusch's work. It's streaming on HBO right now if you have that .
posted by octothorpe at 2:17 PM on May 17

Essay that needs an editor. The film is streaming on HBO Max.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:29 PM on May 17

It's streaming on HBO right now if you have that

AAAUGH THANK YOU. I loved Ghost Dog the one time I had a chance to see it (thanks, Netflix DVDs), and I've been looking for it to watch again.
posted by hanov3r at 2:52 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]

I may not have an endless supply of ice cream to distribute, but I still recognize their ways of showing love from my own life. It is that recognition that lets me trust Ghost Dog when, in a late, climactic scene, he delivers a monologue about the old ways to Raymond, ending it by saying, “I know you understand me. I know you understand me.”

This is really good.
posted by mhoye at 2:54 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]

Essay that needs an editor.
Nope, it's good.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:00 PM on May 17 [9 favorites]

Another movie I really should watch again.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:17 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]

A thoughtful, lucid essay. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 3:19 PM on May 17

Ghost Dog also streams on Criterion Channel. (It's in the Stranger Than Paradise: 8 Films by Jim Jarmusch collection along with Permanent Vacation, Stranger Than Paradise, Down By Law, Mystery Train, Night on Earth, Dead Man, and Coffee and Cigarettes.)
posted by 3.2.3 at 3:38 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]

Samurai Showdown,

Full Ghost Dog OST

which has that one track you remember
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:04 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]

Forest Whitaker is really great, but maybe this is the movie he's best in.
posted by grobstein at 4:06 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]

I had a friend some time ago that I almost always disagreed with on movie tastes. I thought Ghost Dog was one of the best movies to come out in (checks notes) 1999, and was openly mocked for holding this viewpoint. Something something boring something no dialogue something stupid movie, LOL. I was thinking I'd like to see it again, so I'm glad to know it's available on HBO Max. Will pay attention to the RZA soundtrack more this time. I loved the pace, the depth, the whole movie, really.
posted by Chuffy at 4:12 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]

Forest Whitaker is really great, but maybe this is the movie he's best in.

You mean, better than Fast Times at Ridgemont High? !!! /s
posted by Chuffy at 4:13 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]

Ice cream vendor Isaach de Bankolé also stars in Jarmusch's The Limits of Control (yt trailer) which I'm a big fan of. It's "an action movie without action" and includes an amazing flamenco scene seemingly for little reason other than to have an amazing flamenco scene.
posted by juv3nal at 4:35 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]

Sometimes you gotta stick with the ancient ways. The old school ways.

Burial? I like them and all, but.....the meditation/workout scene, with the actual music.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:04 PM on May 17 [4 favorites]

Great essay. Also, whenever I sit down and have a good long think about my favorite soundtracks, Ghost Dog inevitably appears at the top of the list.
posted by vverse23 at 5:23 PM on May 17

For those who liked the Ghost Dog score, but didn't otherwise follow Wu Tang and its side projects, Liquid Swords (GZA feat. RZA). More along lines of 'Samurai Showdown,' (versus RZA's crate-digging atmospherics).
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:17 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]

I've played the licensed RPG, which ended with a new "made man" succeeding at his criminal task but losing everything he cared about in the process, which I thought was quite appropriate.
posted by Mogur at 6:43 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]

Ghost Dog is on my personal best list that I've learned not to share. My father persists in calling it ninja pidgeon.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:00 AM on May 18 [10 favorites]

Yeah, Jarmusch's work is maybe not for everyone.
posted by octothorpe at 4:15 AM on May 18

Incredible film, and one of my favorites. I remember getting pissed at some chump laughing at the trailer in the theatre. I was already a Jim Jarmusch fan by then, so I was stoked to see he had a new movie coming out and didn't think the trailer was funny or goofy or whatever. In retrospect, I can see why that dude laughed ("Forest Whitaker is a samurai hit man for the mob" is a description most folks would find amusing, to say the least, and the bit with the mobsters repeating his name is hilarious), but I hope he eventually saw the movie and found out how awesome it is.

I dug the essay, too. As a translator myself, I really appreciate Meyer's approach, which is a lot more thoughtful than my own (or at least more self-reflective).

"Power equality."
"Always see everything."
posted by heteronym at 6:32 AM on May 18

> it’s a damn shame it’s so hard to find on streaming services

It appears to have been scooped up, like many films, by HBO Max (or whatever the f they are calling themselves this week).

For a while it was on Kanopy (which many with access to good public or university library accounts can take advantage of) and I re-watched it then, but it's gone from there now -- though several other great Jarmusch films are still on Kanopy.
posted by aught at 6:41 AM on May 18

This is the track that has been on my top playlist for twenty years or so... Raise ya SWOHRDS
posted by FatherDagon at 7:47 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]

So viewing order?:
Dead Man
Ghost Dog
Only Lovers Left Alive

posted by The Power Nap at 5:34 PM on May 18

Dead Man
Only Lovers Left Alive
Ghost Dog

Always finish with Ghost Dog.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 8:10 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]

Just watched Ghost Dog last night!
Got it from the library here in Montana.
posted by Mesaverdian at 4:09 PM on May 21

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