Roger Ebert in 1999:
Someone asked me the other day if I could name a movie that was entirely devoid of clichés. I thought for a moment, and then answered, “My Dinner With Andre.”
This was the call sign for me to watch this movie. It is very good. If you’re done with the movie, go and read the article above (but not before). Next up: Vanya on 42nd street (1994) and A Master Builder (2013). The three films got a simultaneous release recently in the summer by Criterion.
I’ve seen this movie at least two times, then yesterday I watched it again. The movie got better after each viewing, I think that’s due to my aging and perhaps understanding the world more. There was one thing I did miss though:
Ghost Dog also makes friends with a little girl named Pearline (Camille Winbush), to whom he lends the book—Rashōmon and Other Stories—he received from Vargo’s daughter. Paralleling a major theme of Rashōmon, Louie and Ghost Dog have different accounts of the circumstances of their meeting: in Louie’s flashback he shoots Ghost Dog’s attacker in self-defense, while in Ghost Dog’s flashback, Louie shoots the attacker just as the attacker is about to kill Ghost Dog.
This detail is certainly there, but I could argue whether the viewer, who is not familiar with the Japanese book and doesn’t look for clues, is able to catch it. (I wonder when Jarmusch observes that during test screenings and exit interviews the audience is not able to catch this part, sees a responsibility to ux it better, so that everyone understands, or is it on a level of finesse where he could just let it go? I wish I could ask this question from him.)
Anyway, I’m going to re-watch Le Samouraï, which was an inspiration for Ghost Dog.