City of Ghosts Reviews
"I've got enough bad karma to last me six life times."-Jimmy (Matt Dillon)
Locations, locations. Sok was the shit.
"Look, I told you, you reach a point where you can't change. You're the way you're gonna be for the rest of you're goddamn life, and that goes for you too."-Marvin (James Caan)
Such a shame too, because the basic idea is good. With a director of the calibre of Peter Weir, this could have been a first class film about greed, culture, uncertainty and fear. Instead it steadily degenerates into a stunningly obvious plot with a silly ending. As Arthur Lazere says on culturevulture, this should disappear down one of the many holes in its plot.
If you wonder why I watched it, in Kuwait of an evening there is little choice...
Why isn't there a film style censor somewhere to stop this stuff being made?
"Prozac Nation" is a great movie. It has the best acting I've ever seen Christina Ricci do and by the way, she looks more attractive than she ever has before. It must be the reddish-blonde hair. Her performance as a college student who's perpetually falling apart is really powerful and Jessica Lange is very good as her mother, although with her blonde hair and Nordic features, she looks about as Jewish as Robert Redford. I'm flabbergasted the Weinsteins didn't have the cojones to at least give this picture a chance in theatres.
Other than that, Matt Dillon's "City Of Ghosts" was impressive. The basic story was familiar but with the exotic Cambodia-Thailand setting, all around good performances and Dillon's moody direction, it worked fine.
As for "The Big Bounce", gawd! If the title hadn't already been taken, they could have called this movie "The Big Sleep" it was so boring. And who in their right mind thinks Owen Wilson is leading man material? He looks like he grew up worshiping Sean Penn's Jeff Spicoli character from "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" and his voice is an irritating monotone mumble I can barely stand listining to. There should be a law that this goof can't be on screen for longer than five minutes at a time.
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]