The year is 1910. The West is dying. The American frontier is undergoing a violent transition from the ways of old to modern times, and Mexico has entered a prolonged period of bloody civil... See full summary »
The inmates and guards of a modern, clean and efficient maximum security wing are slowly and increasingly brutalised until they erupt in violence. Dark and macabre, and based in truth, the story is told in a traditional dramatic style combined with telephone interviews and narration. Written by
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This is one of those films that come along very infrequently. It's incredibly powerful and profoundly disturbing. It has a clear message, but never preaches. It is very involved, yet oddly distant. And it is the most extreme, unpolished depiction of prison life that you will ever see, should you be lucky enough to find it.
Co-written by acclaimed singer/songwriter/musician/novelist Nick Cave, this film carries his mark. It is every bit as dark, gritty, chaotic, and brutal as his music (or his novel, the cult favorite "And the Ass Saw the Angel"). The story itself is quite loosely plotted, but extremely layered. It's hard to take it all in with one viewing...and each repeat viewing is an experience unto itself.
Cave also plays a pivotal role in "Ghosts" as Maynard, an unconscionable psychotic whose violent raving pushes the already worsening conditions of the prison to full-scale chaos. Cave's performance is searing, bringing every bit of rage and hatred and bile to the surface...and his entrance into the film is truly unforgettable.
The film-making here is top-notch, from a cinematic point of view. It certainly wouldn't meet Hollywood's "standards," but I mean that as an extreme compliment. The cold, distant cinematography sometimes brings to mind Kubrick's film version of "A Clockwork Orange," and the way the brutality is handled visually makes "ACO" look like "Bambi" by comparison.
Certainly, this is one film that you should not miss. It is, unfortunately, quite rare...but it can be found if one looks hard enough. I will stress quite strongly, however, that this film is NOT for everyone...but for those with strong stomachs and an appreciation of challenging cinema, this is a definite must-see.
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