Killer of Sheep (1978) This Bitter Earth, Family Life And The Slaughterhouse

KILLER OF SHEEP (1977)

I have to start off with 5 F-Bombs with the last F-Bomb being stretched right out to last at least 10 seconds. How can a film be so devastatingly filled with brooding sadness and doom but equally hit you with such incredible deep innocent sweetness? It shouldn’t be possible but somehow director and writer Charles Burnett creates the impossible with Killer Of SheepContinue reading

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker And Jim Jamusch Follow The Code

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker poster dvd bluray cover art work

Mister Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) has just jacked a nice slick car for our journey through the City streets. He selects his pre-recorded CDR mixtape and off we cruise through the dark neighborhood. No words, just nodding and contemplating.

Tagline – All assassins live beyond the law… only one follows the code…

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker hitman stolen car cd cdr music

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is one cool as fuck film. On so many levels. Scene to scene it effortlessly portrays style. It’s deeply sad in its nature, helped along with Forest’s sorrowful demeanour. However it features pitch perfect black comedy at every turn. This gangster and hitman drama whole inner essence resembles more of a traditional western. And somehow it manages to also fuse African American, Italian and Japanese cultures together within it’s narrative. Further that, it features a soundtrack that keeps your head rocking. Every aspect of this film sweetly, perfectly, just bubbles away.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker reading Hagakure

Ghost Dog is our anti hero. A once bruised, battered and bullied kid now filled with a deep honor and a code. Personally indebted to an old Italian gangster called Louie (John Tormey) for saving his life. Ghost Dog repays his debt, with respect to Louie, carrying out contract jobs. You see, Ghost Dog is a hitman. He abides by a strict code. Followed step by step through the ancient traditional spiritual and warrior code teachings within his beloved book, Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo.

Ghost Dog –In the words of the ancients, one should make his decision within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break through to the other side.

His name, Ghost Dog, sums him up. A lone wolf. Stealth like, invisible, like a ghost. A man deep in thought. He keeps himself to himself, well apart from his feather friends. Surrounded by his beloved pigeons he shadow spars and meditates within the open space of the rooftop. No one knows what he does. No one knows hes a deadly efficient killer. With no phone the only contact to his work is directly through Louie with the use of a tiny message tied to the foot of a pigeon.

kinopoisk.ru

Louie –For the past four years, he’s done, maybe, twelve perfect contracts. Perfect, Like a ghost.

You see, Ghost Dog is a hitman. A hired assassin for the mob. The dying last breed of aging Italian gangsters, sit, hanging on to what little turf they have left. Huddled together these old men occupy the back room of what was once probably a thriving Italian restaurant but now replaced with a Chinese takeaway.

Whereas Ghost Dog’s scenes are, cool, deep and sad, the gangsters on the other hand give us the dark humour of the film.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Henry Silva Ray Vargo Cliff Gorman Sonny Valerio Gene Ruffini

The gangsters are lost in the past. Still trying to hold on to the old ways. Oblivious to the fact they are not what they were. The old guard are dying. The youth have moved on. The organisation hung together by three men sitting around around a table. The shouting deaf toothless pensioner (Gene Ruffini), an intense chiseled psychotic looking mobster in his twilight years with an insanely over tense stare called Ray Vargo (Henry Silva).  And lastly and best of all the Flavor Flav rap rhyming lyrical dropping gangster and spokesman, Sonny Valerio (Cliff Gorman)

Sonny Valerio –My favorite was always Flavor Flav from Public Enemy. You got the funky fresh fly flavor.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker sword roof top cult film

Ghost Dogs methods are perfect. His hits meticulously worked out. Always clean. No mistakes. Perfection. A new job is received from his trusty feathered friend. His hit? To take out Handsome Frank (Richard Portnow). One thing is different, out of his control! Incompetent useless gangsters! The plan still works. Just one change? Ray Vargo’s daughter witnesses the hit. Now old gangsters and their morals can be unpredictable. Ghost Dog finds himself now the hit, the hunted. The Italian’s are all, “Who is this black bear like, pigeon loving man? I want him dead!! You hear? Dead.” Putting in motion a whole chain of painful events.

Sonny Valerio – It’s time to tell us everything you know about this mysterious, ghost-like, untraceable, fuckin’ button man. He needs to be neutralized. Erased from the face of the planet.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker hitman gun silencer blue suit

Now what’s so imaginative and beautifully put across is Forest Whitaker’s performance. He’s far removed from being a traditional stealth like, professionally hitman. Especially with his big hulking bear like frame but Forest couldn’t be more perfect for the part. Obsessively learning the art form of passed down teachings from ancient samurai warriors. He tip toes like mouse, hides within the shadows and strikes with the power and precision of a snake.

Ghost Dog –According to what one of the elders said, taking an enemy on the battlefield is like a hawk taking a bird. Even though it enters into the midst of a thousand of them, it gives no attention to any bird than the one it first marked.

As I say at the beginning, this film is beautiful in its set scenes. The relaxed approach to film making. Quiet thoughtful moments. Ghost Dog sat on a park bench. A young girl sits and watches him. A dog stares him out. An ice cream is bought. We sit in the passenger seat of a stolen car and listen to Ghost Dogs hand picked tunes. We look out the window watching the night city streets hustle and bustle. One of the truly remarkable scenes is the friendship between his only friend Raymond (Isaach De Bankolé) the French speaking ice cream seller. They both chat away not understanding what each other says. Yet beautifully they do. Happy to be in conversation together. A close bond.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker Isaach De Bankolé

A Few Things About The Film.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker sleeping with Jim Jarmusch directing.

  • Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is directed by the brilliant Jim Jamusch. Such a creative writer and filmmaker. I loved most of his films especially Stranger Than Paradise (1984) Down By Law (1986) Mystery Train (1989) and Broken Flowers (2005).  Though I would say Ghost Dog is my personal favourite. Looking through his filmography I’ve some how missed Night On Earth (1991) and Dead Man (1995) so I can’t wait to visit them. And I’m not sure what to do about his new one? The Dead Don’t Die (2019). I was so excited about his take on a zombie film but then the reviews started coming in. Hopefully it will come to Netflix soon.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Forest Whitaker meets respect RZA soundtrack

  • The soundtrack is by rapper, record producer and beat maker RZA. Featuring tracks by Wu-Tang Clan, Killah Priest, and Public Enemy. My favourite tune in the film is when Willie Williams record Armageddon Time blasts from the car stereo system.

Ghost Dog The Way of the Samurai (1999) Henry Silva in La mala ordina (1972)

  • Cult legend and total bad ass Henry Silva is perfect as one of the head gangsters. He’s been in the film game since 1950 and appears mostly typed cast as the villain. With those distinctive looks he was destined to be the ultimate bad guy. And rightly became the legend that he is. An iconic cult film fav. B-movies would later come but he appeared alongside Frank Sinatra in Ocean’s 11 (1960) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962). I need to see his Italian films like The Boss (1973) and The Italian Connection (1972) plus one I’ve been itching to get too for years, as it sounds cool as fuck, Johnny Cool (1963). Ghost Dog has become his last film apart from a cameo homage in Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Rashomon - 1951

  • There’s lots of nods to classic Japanese films with the likes of the classic Rashomon (1950) with it’s theme of people seeing different versions of the same event. And the gun shot through the sinks drain pipe was from director Seijun Suzuki’s amazing film Branded To Kill (1967).

It’s hard to come across a film as effortlessly cool as Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. From a career high performance from Forest Whitaker in a role specially written for him by Jamusch. A few of the little things I love are the muted friendship, the respect shown on the street, the cartoon loving gangsters, the way Ghost Dog uses his gun like a samurai sword.  The quiet moments of reflection, the soundtrack, the sadness and the humour. Everything is perfection for me.

I walked out the cinema with the biggest smile on my face. I knew I’d just witness a perfect film for me. Everything right on-point. I knew I’d be revisiting this movie over and over. I was right.

Hey thanks for popping in. Keep loving film. All the best… Mikey Wolf

Desperate (1947) Menacing Smashing Man Hulk Ironside Relishes Vengeance

Desperate (1947) Steve Brodie Audrey Long Anthony Mann directed film noir movie poster

Trucker Steve Brodie life is turned upside down. This review is for the noir on the run thriller Desperate (1947)

What’s going down?

Happily married couple Steve (Steve Brodie) and Anne (Audrey Long) are giddy in love. With the prospect of starting a family and buying a house Steve is eager to work hard. As an independent trucker he agrees to take on an out of hours pick up and delivery at a warehouse. It soon becomes apparent that the job is way dodgy. Stolen goods. He know’s the hoodlum, Radak (Raymond Burr) and henchmen. Steve doesn’t want any part of this job. Things are soon to escalate fast out of his control. He will be running for not only his but his wife’s life too. A cross country escape with a crazed mad man on a death vengeance mission not far behind.

Desperate (1947) Steve Brodie Audrey Long flowers bunches newly wed noir

The main players

Steve Brodie – Steve Randall
Audrey Long – Anne Randall
Raymond Burr – Walt Radak
Douglas Fowley – Private Detective
William Challee – Reynolds
Jason Robards – Lieutenant Louie Ferrari
Freddie Steele – Shorty Abbott

Tagline – MURDER at any moment! SUSPENSE… in every step!!!

Sure I’ve seen them in something?

I really didn’t know Steve Brodie all that well before this week. Though I had seen him in the two superior noir Robert Mitchum films Out of the Past (1947) and Crossfire (1947). It’s now I realise I’d also seen him last year in the Humphrey Bogart’s World War Two drama The Caine Mutiny (1954). So please feel free to recommend me some more Brodie thank you.

Desperate (1947) Steve Brodie Audrey Long hidding on the the run noir thriller

I only know Audrey Long from last week’s grim noir Born To Kill (1947). However I just learnt a fun fact that she married Leslie Charteris the thriller author, screenwriter and creator of world famous anti-hero criminal Simon Templar aka The Saint.

Always good to see Raymond Burr in these early thrillers where he’d always be cast as the big brooding hoodlum with a temper. Check the awesome Raw Deal (1948) with Dennis O’keefe and Claire Trevor. Also check Pitfall (1948) with Dick Powell. Then of course he’s in one of the greatest Alfred Hitchcock films, Rear Window (1954). Burr can be seen in the mega depressing Dennis Hopper flick called Out of the Blue (1980) before being immortalized as Ironside and then solving a gazillion Perry Mason cases.

Notes on production?

As of the beginning of my movie blog in 2017 I hadn’t seen any of Anthony Mann’s directed films. Flash forward 3 years and I’ve ticked off quite a bunch. T-Men (1947) Raw Deal (1948) Side Street (1950) all being superb noirs. Big fan of Men In War (1957) with Robert Ryan and Aldo Ray. The Naked Spur (1953) added some cowboy flare. WW2 action with The Heroes of Telemark (1965) and A Dandy In Aspic (1968) would become his last film. Maybe he’s best known for El Cid (1961) and The Glenn Miller Story (1954). Anthony Mann’s filmography is pretty awesome and I still have lots to see.

Desperate is from a story written by Mann and Dorothy Atlas. With the screenplay put together by Harry Essex who also wrote the screenplays for last weeks Bodyguard (1948) the sci-fi classic It Came from Outer Space (1953) and the incredible Kansas City Confidential (1952). I spy he directed a Mickey Spillane’s story of Mike Hammer called I, the Jury (1953). I fancy giving that a go.

Desperate (1947) Steve Brodie Audrey Long Raymond Burr gangster noir

Hits like a sledge hammer

One of the main things we love these thrillers for is their toughness. Desperate fulfills that quota well, especially when the brooding smashing man hulk Burr is on screen. Just the use of a swinging beam of light casting shadows of pure menace as the brutally ready gangsters show they mean business. A bottle smashed with jagged shards of razor sharp glass ready to slice and dice. A clutched fist fires across the screen. Walt Radak is ready to kill.

Random Observation

It’s just dawned on me that 1947 and 1948 were two crazy years for awesome noirs. Those two years seem to have been relentless for brilliant little thrillers.

Desperate (1947) Steve Brodie Audrey Long Anthony Mann directed film noir gun blast pistol

Verdict

How much bad luck can you have on road trip escape? Steve and Anne certainly get their fair share as their desperate flight of survival unfolds. As with most of these thrillers from the era they keep everything nicely packed and rolled out in a short run-time. You root for Steve and Anne as each corner of their journey hits another snag.  Burr’s Radak fills his part well as the brutal thug and there’s even nice little touches with some of his henchmen like Shorty and Pete the “pushing his luck” private eye.

Desperate (1947) Steve Brodie close up thriller on the run film noir

All in all it’s a good little movie. Yeah it’s a little light on the dark noir we love but those moments with vicious Burr and that above mentioned swinging lamp make-up for our loss. Great to be able to tick another Anthony Mann film from the list and at the same time get to notice and add Steve Brodie to my future viewings. Desperate is here to stream if you fancied it

Rating score

Wolfman’s rating 7/10       IMDB 6.8/10

Feel free to recommend me related movies and any other trivia if you wish. Keep having fun at the movies…. Mikey Wolf

Subway (1985) Christopher Lambert, Slap Bass And Bongos Within The Paris Metro – Video Store Action Heroes

Subway (1985) Christopher Lambert Luc Besson movie poster

I knew Christopher Lambert what with his prancing and dancing about in his loincloth! He called the jungle his home and was the self appointed Lord of the Apes, Tarzan (1984). However it wasn’t until his immortal swordsman with that dodgy Scottish accent arrived with the classic action romp, Highlander (1985) that I really clocked his name. So sat there on the shelve in the local video store was the intriguing Subway (1985). With a smartly dressed Christopher Lambert with a shock of white hair and what could only be described as a lightsaber in his hands. Off I went to the counter……….. Continue reading

Lolly-Madonna XXX (1973) Kidnap, Moonshine, Screaming Piggies & Happy Families

Lolly-Madonna XXX (1973) poster kidnap movie artwork

With that wonderfully exploitative title, Lolly-Madonna XXX it really grabs your attention. And to be honest I really didn’t know what I was getting myself involved with. I’d found out pretty early on in the film that the triple X wasn’t there for it’s pornographic nature but in fact it relates to “kiss kiss kiss”. However, don’t get me wrong, this film is still strictly 18 certificate material. Continue reading

City of Fear (1959) Manhunt Panic As Ruthless Savage Convict Escapes With A Deadly Container

City Of Fear (1959) Vince Edwards crime thriller manhunt poster artwork one sheet

The ambulance revved at speed racing down the twisting dirt road. Accelerating through the gears with determination and purpose. What was the emergency? We soon learn this speeding vehicle wasn’t going to an incident, it was escaping one. Inside, two sweating, desperate men yell at each other. Continue reading