City of Ghosts

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City of Ghosts
Cityofghostscard.jpg
A lobby card for the 2004 Thailand theatrical release.
Directed by Matt Dillon
Produced by Willi Baer
Michael Cerenzie
Deepak Nayar
Written by Matt Dillon
Barry Gifford
Mike Jones
Starring Matt Dillon
James Caan
Stellan Skarsgård
Natascha McElhone
Gérard Depardieu
Music by Tyler Bates
Cinematography Jim Denault
Edited by Howard E. Smith
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) April 25, 2003 (2003-04-25)
Running time 116 minutes
Country United States
Language English
French
Khmer
Russian

City of Ghosts is a 2002 drama film co-written, directed by and starring Matt Dillon, about a con artist who must go to Cambodia to collect his share of money from an insurance scam. The film was made in Cambodia, in locations that include Phnom Penh and the Bokor Hill Station.

Plot[edit]

Jimmy (played by Matt Dillon) is a conman who's been working for a fake insurance company in New York City that is being investigated by the FBI after it cannot pay claims that have poured in after a hurricane. Discovering that his mentor and the mastermind of the scheme, Marvin (James Caan), has skipped the country and gone to Thailand, Jimmy boards a plane with the intention of trying to collect his money.

Once in Bangkok, Jimmy meets Joseph Kaspar (Skarsgård), a partner in the scheme who's living with his Thai katoey companion Rocky (Kyoza). Joseph informs Jimmy that Marvin has moved on to Cambodia, where he's planning an even greater scam. So Jimmy sneaks across the border and makes his way to Phnom Penh.

He checks into a seedy hotel run by a Frenchman named Emile (Gérard Depardieu) and has his passport stolen by another traveller. Later Jimmy has his sunglasses stolen by a macaque monkey.

Needing to travel around, he hires a cyclo driver named Sok (Kem Sereyvuth), who becomes the only person Jimmy can trust. He also meets an NGO worker named Sophie (Natascha McElhone) and dabbles in romance with her while attending a rave party at an ancient temple.

Eventually, Marvin turns up, but the scam he's trying to get together – involving corrupt Cambodian government officials, high-ranking military and the Russian mafia – turns out to be more risky and dangerous than anyone ever imagined, taking Jimmy on a surrealistic odyssey.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Locations in Cambodia[edit]

Casting in Cambodia[edit]

  • Kem Sereyvuth, the cyclo driver who played Sok, was cast in Cambodia. He had no prior acting experience. The story his character tells Jimmy is his own.
  • In one scene in the hotel bar, a character, Harry the American expat, tells Jimmy in no uncertain terms that he's a fool and does not know what he's getting into. Harry was portrayed by Michael Hayes, the publisher of the Phnom Penh Post, a daily English-language newspaper.
  • The macaque that stole Jimmy's sunglasses was named Jadet, who was smuggled in from Thailand because the Cambodian monkey was not tame and "bit a chunk out of the prop lady's ear," Dillon told Time Asia. "The Thai monkey escaped, and its trainer was yelling at these kids who gathered around not to chase it. Of course, every kid in Cambodia went after that monkey, and it ran into the post office where things really got nuts."
  • The people at the full moon party, as well as some of those on Emile's balcony, are all actual backpackers recruited from Phnom Penh guesthouses.
  • One of the Russian gangsters was played by Finn citizen Jouni Anttonen, who is now Michael Hayes' boss at Finnmap in Cambodia.

Soundtrack[edit]

Music from the Motion Picture City of Ghosts
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released April 29, 2003
Genre Soundtrack
Label Lakeshore Records
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars [1]

The soundtrack for City of Ghosts features an eclectic mix of music that includes 1970s Khmer rock and roll, French pop and American pre-WWII blues and jazz. The album contains the following tracks:

  1. "Both Sides Now" – written by Joni Mitchell; performed by Dengue Fever
  2. "Et moi, et moi, et moi" – written by Jacques Dutronc and Jacques Lanzmann; performed by Jacques Dutronc
  3. "Wait Ten Months" – performed by Ros Serey Sothea
  4. "Sak Kra Va" performed by Chan Chaya
  5. "Do You Believe In Love At Sight" – performed by McKinney's Cotton Pickers
  6. "Hilo Hula" – performed by Mike Hanapi and the Llima Islanders
  7. "Have You Seen My Love" – performed by Ros Sereysothea
  8. "Parlez Moi D'amour" – performed Lucianne Boyer
  9. "I Want A Little Girl" – performed by McKinney's Cotton Pickers
  10. "Mou Pei Na" – performed by Sinn Sisamouth
  11. "Coining" – performed by Maes Samouen
  12. "Giant Woman" – performed by Pan Ron
  13. "Close Fit Blues" – performed by Clarence Williams
  14. "I'm Sixteen" – performed by Ros Sereysothea
  15. "Ne Te Fache Pas" – performed by Sinn Sisamouth
  16. "Love Pillow" – performed by Choun Malai
  17. "Dear 5" – performed by Peter Whitehead

In the film, James Caan performs the Khmer-language song "Bong Sorlang", but it is not on the soundtrack CD.

References[edit]

External links[edit]