Thursday, September 23, 2021

Prisoners of the Ghostland


My brother John is staying Friday night. If we go to the pub straight from work, we are going to need a movie we can watch after that over a take-away from the Colliers Wood Tandoori. One that doesn't tax the old grey matter too much.

Take a bow, Nic Cage.

Cult Japanese film-maker Sion Sono (Love Exposure, Suicide Club) never shies away from an opportunity to shock and surprise with lashings of gore, weirdness and lurid, louche lunacy. Nicolas Cage, meanwhile (now practically a cult himself), loves to rage, bellow and glower in offbeat low-budget films, apparently the kookier the better. They’ve teamed up for this beyond-bonkers, cross-cultural bricolage of styles and influences, and the result is predictably excessive, noisy and more than a little exhausting. But mostly in a fun way, as long as you’re not bothered by gratuitous violence, incoherence and a deep streak of silly.

The setting is some kind of future Earth/parallel universe/post-apocalyptic zona – the why and when is not really important – that’s a mashup of neon-streaked Tokyo fleshpot and Mad Max-style wild west dystopia. A warlord called the Governor (Bill Moseley, hamming it up almost as much as Cage) runs a brothel-prison from which one of his favourite “granddaughters”, Bernice (Sofia Boutella, underused), escapes with three other comfort women. So the Governor hauls our nameless hero (Cage), a former bank robber, out of pokey and sends him off to find Bernice. But first he zips the hero up into a leather jumpsuit rigged with tiny bombs that will blow bits of his anatomy up should he try to hurt her, including explosives attached to each testicle.

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