[color=white]Before I start this review I feel like I need to mention something that has been irritating me for well over a month now. Is it me or is this year devastatingly bad in theaters so far? I know the beginning of the years are always slower, but I can remember there being at least a couple choices out there in the years past. I went to the theater exactly ZERO times in all of February, and in January I went a few times but that was nearly all for 2004 releases that were late coming to where I'm from. The only official 2005 release that I've seen is [i]Assault on Precint 13[/i]. I've almost forgotten what a movie theater looks like, and I feel ill. [/color]
Okay, now I'm ready...
[color=white]It's always interesting to see the different kinds of actors who decide to try their hand into other aspects of film other than acting. Matt Dillon, who has been a terrific actor for about 25 years now recently took a shot at writing and directing. His film is called [i]City of Ghosts[/i], which he starred in as well. The story involves the audience right from the beginning and the atmosphere is extremely grim and suspenseful. For about 5 minutes the film is set in New York City, and then the rest of it is entirely in Cambodia. The setting Dillon decided to use as a backdrop for this mystery has the biggest impact on the overall success of the film. The communities are stripped down and bare, and as the story moves along we become more and more attentive and nervous of the uncomfortable surroundings the characters have put themselves in. The score is sometimes beautiful and sometimes haunting, and at times beautifully haunting, but it never overpowers the film itself. It just lurks quietly in the background, and every once in a while we find it surprisingly effecting our involvement in the story. [/color]
[color=white]Another reason to highly anticipate actors making a shift into directing is the casting. In most cases the actor who is directing brings in good friends who are also actors to be a part of it all. Dillon's cast shows off a diverse set of talents including James Caan, Gerard Depardieu, Natasha McElhone, and the great and underrated Stellan Skarsgaard. Everyone is given intricate characters to work with, and they're all a joy to watch. Dillon displays a good hand for direction and at the same time gives another deeply felt performance. [/color]
[color=#000000][color=white]There is no question that [i]City of Ghosts [/i]is an impressive film and a good debut for a first time director, but the film never quite reaches higher than that. It has much more than simply just a good film inside of here somewhere, but it's nver really shown. At 1 hour and 57 minutes I kind of got the feeling throughout that this could've easily been about 20 to 25 minutes shorter. The film drags at times and tries to lose our attention, but it never quite does. It is just too interesting and strangely beautiful to look at for it to fall into mediocrity. I wanted the movie to rise above and be greatness because it definitely presents great promise right from the start, but Dillon's directorial debut fails to do so, but it doesn't fail to be a well made mystery.[/color] [/color]