Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Ghostland prisoners review

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If you’ve never seen a movie or TV show directed by Sion Sono, titles like The blank seers or Tokyo Vampire Hotel should tell you its genre exploitation brand. The prisoners of Ghostland – with, among others, Nicolas Cage and Sofia Boutella – feel right at home alongside other energetic Sono frolics like Tokyo tribe, the Japanese virtuoso’s 2015 post-apocalyptic hip-hop martial arts musical. Ghostland brings together so many genres and inspirations, which might make your average moviegoer pull off a cartoonish shot when they’re listed back to back The movie is a lot of things, from wacky post-apocalypse nightmare fuel, to a stylized mash-up of Western and samurai cinema. He even occupies that uniquely modern Nic Cage space, born of an imbalanced commitment and indebtedness to the IRS, on a fine line between serious and ironic (Cage plays a jailed bank robber outfitted with bullet-threatening explosives and charged to save a young girl in a nuclear wasteland). And yet none of these descriptors do justice to what the movie really looks like. If you’re there for some inventive action, there’s just enough to satisfy – but not enough to wow you – but Sono also directed the movie shortly after a fatal heart attack, which he claims to have killed him for 60 seconds and sent him rushing into outer space. As fun as Prisoners of the Ghostland is, it’s also a dreamlike meditation on time, and one of the first images we see is a gumball machine in the corner of a pristine, high-security Japanese bank. After a robbery gone awry – Cage, simply referred to as a ‘hero’, bursts into guns alongside his sadistic partner ‘Psycho’ (an unrecognizable Nick Cassavetes) – the gumballs spill across the floor in a chaotic mix of glass and blood. It’s sort of a mission statement, a prelude to the film’s candy-colored violence and caricatured bloodshed. Shortly thereafter, the camera takes a journey through Samurai Town, a cramped place with heightened artifice, whose saloon-harems are outfitted with swinging wooden doors and traditional Japanese hanging lanterns. The inhabitants of the city – some white, some Japanese, some belonging to other ethnicities – have sports outfits from the Far West or feudal Japan. Whether a given character speaks English or Japanese feels randomly assigned, and the musical cues sound like Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Western leitmotifs played on Japanese bamboo flutes.

2021 film preview

When the dreaded warlord The Governor (Bill Mosely, Rest! The Genetic Opera) arrives in search of Cage’s “hero”, the city gathers around him, welcoming him with coordinated songs. With handsome right-hand man Yasujiro (Tak Sakaguchi) by his side, Governor conscripts Cage on a rescue mission to find his missing granddaughter Bernice (Boutella) in exchange for his freedom, but the mission comes with a few caveats. the shape of Cage’s outfit. It’s made to don an intimidating black leather reminiscent of a bicycle gang – The Governor, who replaces Sono, dresses him this way because he likes the aesthetics – but the outfit is equipped with explosives on his arms, his neck and testicles, which can be placed by the simple urge to be violent or sexual in the presence of young women. It’s a way to protect Bernice from the only man who can save her, and it puts Cage in an awkward narrative situation; the devices are doomed to come into play and paint this “hero” in a rather unfortunate light. After all, the main men in Hollywood are often defined by violence and sexuality (the latter was a key focus before Marvel subsumed the action blockbuster), so the flashing red lights on the neck and organs Cage’s genitals pose a particular problem, in a film ostensibly about Hollywood imagery. himself.

The film, after presenting itself as a rescue adventure, quickly takes a few left turns. It turns out that finding Bernice is no problem at all! Getting her back on purpose, however, ends up being the problem. In the meantime, she has taken up residence – or has been forced into it; it remains ambiguous – in an area called Ghostland, a Mad Max-inspired dystopian desert township built around a clock tower, whose hands the locals lasso and desperately stop moving forward. Bernice is locked up, perhaps willingly, in the remains of a mannequin, in a place where time has to stand still. Men who build engines and other devices used to move forward – like the lovely “Rat Man” and his rat clan – are considered outcasts.Nick Cassavetes and Nicolas Cage in Prisoners of the Ghostland (Photo: RLJE Films)

Nick Cassavetes and Nicolas Cage in Prisoners of the Ghostland (Photo: RLJE Films)

The film is imbued with dreamlike (or illogical) logic when it comes to spatial and emotional reasoning. Ghostland is not so much its own township as it is a kingdom of specific cinematic influence, much like Samurai Town. The two places do not appear to have a physical relationship with each other; Whenever the characters begin to travel between them, their point of view is engulfed by spooky images of a zombie prison bus and a robotic samurai supported by a huge mushroom cloud (no conversation about the story of America and Japan’s cyclical cultural influence is not complete without the specter of nuclear power). Instead, the connection between the two cities is temporal. Sono has long been influenced by eastern and western genre imagery, and western and samurai films have impacted each other’s storylines and aesthetics for decades. Samurai Town is therefore the symbol of a lawless past (complemented by Cage’s haunted flashbacks of the people he killed). The Ghostland, similarly, is a symbol of a hopeless future and a place teeming with Greek choirs that advance the plot through call and answer. The two places are on a collision course, but not for reasons based on the waking reality. They just feel like extensions of Sono’s aesthetic bindings; it is his dream of cinema, in a way.

Cage absorbs every new idea or piece of poetic dialogue with something halfway between wide-eyed fascination and playful acceptance. “The hero” knows what kind of movie he’s in, but he’s not really the hero of this story. He simply fits the aesthetic mold of a traditional hero, standing where a hero would stand, dressing as he would dress, rejecting and accepting the call for heroism in places Joseph Campbell might notice. If the story has a true “hero,” it’s Yasujiro, a relatively low-key character with a more subtle moral and physical arc, but it’s hardly surprising to see Cage pull his jaw off and swallow the image whole. . (Its particular utterance of the word “testicles” is worth the price of admission).

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