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City of GhostsCity of Ghosts

Starring: Matt Dillon, James Caan, Stellan Skarsgârd, Sereyvuth Kem, Natascha McElhone and Gerard Depardeiu
Directed by: Matt Dillon
Rated: R
Written by: Matt Dillon and Barry Gifford
Buy Soundtrack*: Music Various Artists - Highly Recommended. *Does not contain score by Tyler Bates

Matt Dillon Interview

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Dvd 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.

Bluntly 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.

He 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 venture scam.

Marvin's 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.

You 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.

As 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.

Luckily, 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.

Yeah, 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…

Admittedly 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.

And 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.

James Caan is wonderful as Marvin. He's at once sleazy and sadly pathetic. Caan eases through the role, impeccably, as always.

Gerard 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.

Stellan 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.
Buy It

Snack Recommendation: Aioan Chua Noeung Phset Kretni

 


 

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