All I write about is my Netflix list

In City of Ghosts the opening scene, of a hurricane's destruction, was unexpected and a bit surreal considering recent events. There are other surreal moments; a third rate, run down brothel in a bad part of Phnom Penh, a frightening David Lynch like karaoke bar out in the middle of nowhere, run by a dwarf right out of Twin Peaks:Asia. Scenes like this always take me back to drunken, muddled nights of my own in run down neighborhoods in foreign ports of call.

Unfortunately, the story, co-written by Matt Dillon, who also directed and starred, is also a bit drunken and muddled. Slow and staggering a bit. Matt Dillon is a con man in an insurance scam gone bad who goes to Cambodia to find James Caan, the man who ran the scam and who, it turns out, is probably Matt Dillon's father. Don't worry about it. The noir-ish story isn't particularly engaging and despite a first rate cast, including Gérard Depardieu, Stellan Skarsgård and Natascha McElhone, the acting wasn't that much either, which I blame on Matt Dillon's inexperience as a director.

It seems clear to me that Dillon fell in love with the region and it shows in the lingering shots of the Cambodian countryside and the atmospheric streets of Phnom Penh. In any event it was worth it just to see James Caan sing karaoke in American accented Cambodian. Don't see this film for the story or the actors, see it for the scenery and cinematography.

Watching a couple of interviews of director Sam Fuller, found on the Criterion Collection DVD of Pickup on South Street, I thought there was more life and character in that old yellow journalist than there was in any of the dramatis personae of City of Ghosts. Except maybe Kem Sereyvuth, the cyclo driver.
  • Current Mood: weekend's over
I'm grateful for your fine reviews. They're valuable input for my own Netflix list!
I apologize. I had read some of your entries in the past. I had seen your name bandied about in comments elsewhere. I was adding someone else and, based on what I had remembered, added you as well on the spur of the moment without checking. I hadn't realized you had changed to a more private status. I will unfriend you.
It's not a problem at all. I'll actually friend you. I just didn't recognize you and I get added a lot in mistake. It's friends only because of my ex's mom actually. Nothing against other people. :)