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The Hungry Ghosts (2009)

 -  Drama  -  5 February 2010 (USA)
5.4
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 126 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 10 critic

A New York City-set drama of interlocking stories which occur over a 36-hour period.

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Frank
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Nadia
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Gus
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Sharon
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Girl who was dealt Blackjack
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Abby
Nuno Bento
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Carl
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Joey
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Eddie
Selma Cifka ...
Doris
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Matthew
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Nicky Z
Elzbieta Czyzewska ...
Mrs. Dunleavy
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Mohammed
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Storyline

According to Buddhists, hungry ghosts are the dead who cannot bid farewell to the living. They are a metaphor for spiritual hunger which we often try to satisfy by chasing the superficial and material. This directing debut by Michael Imperioli is filled with hungry ghosts. A group of New Yorkers, of different ages, races and backgrounds, hunger for emotional, sensual, and spiritual fulfillment. Their intersecting and colliding paths reflect the zeitgeist of our times, in which the desperation of the West smacks up against the religious teachings of the East. Written by Warsaw Film Festival

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality, drug use, language and some disturbing content
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Release Date:

5 February 2010 (USA)  »

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1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
A TV star's idea of cinema?
22 January 2009 | by See all my reviews

I saw this at Rotterdam last night, and like almost everyone I talked to afterwards, couldn't understand how it was selected as opening film. The best explanation, from a festival employee, referred wearily to the mindless 'mechanics' of the process.

The new director of the 'art' festival, who himself comes from outside film, introduced it by talking about breaking down the boundaries between traditional media forms.

But his choice, here, would in fact provide a great laboratory for Film & TV Studies students to explore fundamental differences between a TV series funded by commercials that has to keep a viewer engaged over 24 hour-long slots with meandering and intersecting plot-lines held together by familiar 'characters' - and an artwork that must stand by itself as it reconfigures our perceptions and realities over 2 uninterrupted hours.

Actually, this 'film' would probably work better as a 4-hour American TV miniseries with 16 long commercial breaks (maybe that's the underlying logic). It looks like a way-overlong unedited amateur pilot for a series, and trying to 'read' it as a 90-minute (though it seemed like 3 hours) 'film' became frustrating after a couple of minutes.

To call the script and direction 'amateurish' is to be polite. The kindest take would be to imagine there was no direction at all, and that the TV actors, camera, lighting & sound and editing crew were just assembled over lunch one day, then left to themselves to churn out their usual mechanical product dominated by smallscreen closeups and dialogue.

I think that might in fact have provided a better result. But the script (by the first-time 'director') was so self-absorbed, cliché-ridden and undisciplined that it's very, very easy to see the same confused signature throughout this incoherent, flaccid, misconceived and misdirected mess (no, I didn't say that about Altman, too).

If this is the future of 'film' and film festivals, then goodbye film. As for festivals, the audience (or those who hadn't walked out) gave it a standing ovation.


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