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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Favorite Forest Movie (Besides Fast Times At Ridgemont High)

Okay, so admittedly I am not the biggest Forest Whitaker fan. Yes, I know people think he's a great actor, yes I know he's survived the Hollywood game for decades, and yes, I know he was supposed to be the end-all in "The Last King Of Scotland". I wish him well, but I am still unmoved. I think it's his face; it's difficult for me to concentrate while looking at it.

Anyway, one reader Saladin (who has a blog of very interesting perspectives on things), voted for "Ghost Dog-The Way Of The Samurai" for the top ten favorites. Since nothing was specified for the term "black film", I imagine it would qualify, as Forest took up most of the screen time. It was also scored by my fourth husband the RZA. The plot from IMDB is this:

In Jersey City, an African American hit man follows "Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai." He lives alone, in simplicity with homing pigeons for company, calling himself Ghost Dog. His master, who saved his life eight years ago, is part of the local mob. When the boss' daughter witnesses one of Ghost Dog's hits, he becomes expendable. The first victims are his birds, and in response, Ghost Dog goes right at his attackers but does not want to harm his master or the young woman. On occasion, he talks with his best friend, a French-speaking Haitian who sells ice cream in the park, and with a child with whom he discusses books. Can he stay true to his code? And if he does, what is his fate?

I don't remember why I saw this film, I think because I was with someone who was into it or maybe because it was directed by Jim Jarmusch. What I do know, however, is that I was really surprised at how much I loved it. It reminded me of the old Kurosawa films where there was barely any dialogue at all for long stretches of time, but to add more would have ruined it. Forest was actually believable in a premise that sounds ridiculous, but was beautifully executed. It is a thinking person's modern urban martial arts film.....rent it if for nothing else but to see Forest working his samurai moves.

10 comments:

Villager said...

I will add Ghost Dog to my Netflix 'queue' based on this post. I haven't seen it yet.

I've never been thrilled by Forest Whittaker's work ... although I thought he did a good job in the Idi Amin movie last year.

peace, Villager

Invisible Woman said...

Let me know what you think. I haven't seen it since it's release in 1999, so I'm hoping I'm not twisting my memories!

justjudith said...

i thought it was great! it's kind of got cult status.

Thembi said...

He is sooooooo nasty to me. Something about the mouth area.

Invisible Woman said...

Great minds think alike jj; I'll forgive you for liking Lisa Lampenelli since you like Ghost Dog, haha. Agreed Thembi-I hate to be so superficial but ewwwwww.

Undercover Black Man said...

What up, Villager? You can also check out Forest Whitaker in "Smoke"... not much screen time, but big impact. And he showed me something in "The Crying Game." And don't forget "Color of Money."

Maybe his forte is "character parts," as opposed to trying to be the leading man.

Invisible Woman said...

DEFINITELY not leading.

Saladin said...

Wow -- a mention from the lady with the pistol...I feel honored!

BTW, a random note: the little girl with whom "Ghost Dog" has some (rather neat) conversations about books ended up playing the older of Bernie Mac's two girls...err nieces on his TV show.

And are you sure you all aren't just dogging Forrest cuz he's a little chunky and a little um... grizzled? Just teasing...

Invisible Woman said...

Don't worry Saladin...I only use it for peace :-) I don't have the laundry list available right now for my issues with Forest...

Amias said...

This film was poetry in motions ... a classic. I loved it too. I especially love the "bear" scence.