Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

In a filmography that boasts the jazz great Charlie Parker, Jody, the ill-fated soldier of The Crying Game, and a towering Idi Amin, Ghost Dog gave Forest Whitaker his most crystalline moment of celluloid cool.
On point: A pre-Oscar career-high for Forest Whitaker in the title role.
On point: A pre-Oscar career-high for Forest Whitaker in the title role.

It has been noted of the director Jim Jarmusch that he works on his own patch, at his own pace. He himself once remarked that his films are comprised of the moments others would edit out. And though the results have not always been praise-worthy, this literate (a passage from the Hagakure serves as prologue) samurai story is a definitive point in a resolutely sovereign career. Mining the space between mafia movie and urban thriller, the film follows Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker), an assassin who works for the mob. He keeps pigeons. He has friends: Raymond (Isaach de Bankolé), a Haitian ice cream seller, and a bookworm called Pearline (Camille Winbush). There then arrives the commission to kill a fellow gangster, which, of course, does not go to plan, and sets this tale towards its inexorable tragedy. It is a central performance of real grace and soul from a pre-Oscar-anointed Whitaker. He sits beats out. He trades on his abiding air, and against his formidable physical presence. In a filmography that boasts the jazz great Charlie Parker, Jody, the ill-fated soldier of The Crying Game, and a towering Idi Amin, Ghost Dog gave Whitaker his most crystalline moment of celluloid cool.

@email:afeshareki@thenational.ae

Published: August 26, 2008 04:00 AM

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