Matt Dillon, James Caan, Stellan Skarsgârd, Sereyvuth Kem, Natascha McElhone
and Gerard Depardeiu
Directed by: Matt Dillon
Written by: Matt Dillon and Barry Gifford
Soundtrack*: Music Various Artists - Highly Recommended. *Does not contain
score by Tyler Bates
Matt Dillon Interview
Extra/ Commentary: Matt Dillon and co-writer Barry Gifford. Dillon offers
great info on the lush and unique landscapes, as well as the perils of filming
in Cambodia. Plus you'll learn the place is apparently hot - temperature-wise,
and set production's ability to craft an out-house...they were in the middle of
nowhere's land after all.
speaking? City of Ghosts is a beautiful film. That's because director,
co-writer and star, Matt Dillon, obviously took great pains to make his directorial
debut something special. Shot primarily in Cambodia, some of the backdrops are
simply stunning while remaining true to the ethnicity of the region. And thanks
to an eye for the odd Dillon and his writing partner Barry "Wild at Heart"
Gifford have, the story had precious dollops of delightfully absurd - almost surreal
- scenes in homage to David Lynch (perhaps?) that just added to the whole creepy
allure of Cambodia's darker alleys.
Story goes...We meet Jimmy Cremmins (Matt Dillon) just as an insurance company
he runs is caught up in a terrible situation. See, the place is bogus. It's one
of those "fronts" that takes in policy money never expecting to actually
have to pay out. Except there's a horrific hurricane (think Andrew) that effects
hundreds of the firm's insured. Oopsie-daisy. Now Jimmy's gotta vamoose and fast.
decides to rendezvous with the head of the scam, his father-like mentor Marvin
(James Caan). Through a mutual colleague, Kaspar (Stellan Skarsgârd), Jimmy
finds out Marv's all set up in Cambodia and already plotting his next capitol
latest and greatest is a semi-legit scheme to bring big-time gambling to the beautiful,
but deadly, shore. He's all smiles and dancing gals, completely oblivious to the
lives he's ruined back home.
immediately get the idea that things are not as they seem and all the players
in Jimmy's life are wearing an assortment of masks.
he gets closer to discovering some truths about Marvin's business shenanigans,
things start to spark within him. Jimmy's feeling a tad evil and thinks maybe
it's time to clear the slate and be a better man.
within all the mayhem Jimmy is fortunate to meet a true man named Sok (Sereyvuth
Kem). He hires Sok as his driver/guide and learns people can be good. He
also meets a beautiful preservationist named Sophie (beautiful Natascha McElhone).
Sophie is yet another normal, honest, person. Jimmy's starting to see the lighter
side of life and the better in people and really wants to change.
well, it's not all about what Jimmy wants and seedy colleagues like Kaspar are
none too keen on him just going straight. And then there's the Russian Mob they
stiffed back home to contend with as well
City of Ghosts has a few points where I got lost - briefly - but everything
comes together wonderfully and if you're alert and paying attention, the rewards
are plentiful. It's not a dumb film is what I'm saying.
let's say you're not into the beauty of a mysterious land
how about the
beauty of a manly man? This Matt Dillon chap has matured
into a rare specimen of a Hunkasnarus Rex. I'd like to dip him in a sweet chili
sauce and nibble till the gods of Phnom Penh cry with envy. He's breath taking
is all I'm saying. He also happens to be a wonderful actor. Rent anything with
his name on it - you won't be disappointed.
Caan is wonderful as Marvin. He's at once sleazy and sadly pathetic. Caan eases
through the role, impeccably, as always.
Depardieu plays the innkeeper where Dillon's Jimmy fella dwells in Cambodia. And
Ger's scenes ad just the right amount of hilarity to a tense script. Of course
he's still Brando big but every kilo is filled with talent. He's so entertaining
you could have watched a whole movie on him in that cantina his character owned
- just living life.
Skarsgard is remarkable as the slippery Kasper. His natural "business man
abroad" looks twist towards the plot until, by the end of the film, he's
positively under your skin - and you feel like you need some antibacterial scrubbing.
Then there's "Sok" aka Sereyvuth Kem. Mr. Sereyvuth is not
a professional actor it turns out - though he should be. This man is award material.
In City of Ghosts, Dillon and crew have captured that ominous
under current of the unknown all of Asia seems to have - that contrasting beauty
to smoldering deception that lay just below the surface - while delivering a noir-ishy
yarn with plenty of interesting characters sprinkled about. Enjoy.
Recommendation: Aioan Chua Noeung Phset Kretni