I can think of nothing more stupid than having a best friend who doesn't speak the same language as I do. Although I may think this person is my best friend, how do I know that he feels the same way about me? This is the case in "Ghost Dog." Ghost Dog's (Forest Whitaker) best friend is an ice cream vendor named Raymond (Isaach de Bankolé), who speaks French.
This is one of those idiosyncratic things independent film directors like Jim ("Dead Man") Jarmusch do because it confuses the hell out of people who aren't used to independent film. These people then go stomping out of the theater muttering "what the hell was that?" under their breath and frequently proceed to the box office to loudly demand a refund until the police are called to drag them away.
In fact, this film is filled with nonsensical moments. Ghost Dog is a hit man who follows a Samurai code and only communicates with his master, Louie (John Tormey), by carrier pigeon. Ghost Dog is ordered to kill Handsome Frank (Richard Portnow) and does, but right in front of Ray Vargo's (Henry Silva) daughter. This infuriates Ray, and his right-hand man, Sonny Valerio (Cliff Gorman), orders Ghost Dog to be killed.
There's so much of this "friends speaking different languages, carrier pigeon bullshit" going on in this film that any actual point Jarmusch might be trying to make is drowned out like a stay of execution plea at a George W. Bush presidential rally. Ray's old Consigliere (Gene Ruffini) blurts out words like "pigeon" every so often. Sonny is something of a rap aficionado, and Ghost Dog strikes up a literature conversation with a little girl. Parts of the Samurai code book, "The Hagakure," are read and printed on screen, but fade away before any real understanding is possible -- a perfect analogy for "Ghost Dog" itself.
To spread the word about this Ghost Dog review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.