March 01, 2004

City of Ghosts

Cambodia is the setting for City of Ghosts, Matt Dillon's first attempt at directing a film. Dillon shot the entire movie on location in the southeast Asian country.

The story, which Matt stars in and cowrote, is vague, but what makes the film interesting is the way it was shot. The majority of City of Ghosts takes place in Phnom Penh, which looks to be a very spooky place for any visitor. And why anybody would visit there is anybody's guess, but the obvious shadowy, deceptive nature of the city is captured quite well.

Gerard Depardieu has a role in this film as does James Caan. So Matt was able to bring in a couple of heavy hitters to add some interest. Depardieu's part is that of a derelict saloon owner who apparently knocked up a local girl some years ago. His character is one of those guys who seems trivial to the story at the outset, yet in the end, you realize that the whole tale dances around him.

Caan is Daddy Scam to Matt's character, who just barely escapes the U.S. law to come overseas and ask Caan what the hell is going on. Well Caan intends to take the $10M or so that he's made off the insurance scam that Matt was working in the States, and invest it in a hotel/resort/casino in Cambodia. Wouldn't you love to take a trip to Cambodia? It's certainly first on my list of dream vacation locations. Anyway, the plot convolutes and vagaries amplify after the hotel goes down the tubes and Caan covers his tracks so he can disappear into the Killing Fields countryside.

City of Ghosts is not a great film, but it is very interesting, even hypnotic at times. If you're an arthouse geek, you should likely check it out. Dillon has real potential as a director. The overall ambience of the film is memorable, and I will be interested to see what he comes up with in the future.

Posted by Wayne at March 1, 2004 11:42 PM
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