Ghostbox Cowboy (2018)
United States of America
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This film caught me by utter surprise with its sophisticated critique of 21st-century trade relations, its razor-sharp commentary on capitalist globalization, its caustic and bleak humor, and its excellent pacing. The films takes us on a journey alongside an utterly clueless middle-aged protagonist from his moment of inspiration in a Texas dollar store )where he's dressed like a goofy millenial "bro," Affliction t-shirt and all), to his misadventures selling bootleg segways, to his ultimate destination in the "Inner Mongolian Blank Region" -- the under-construction megacity of Ordos, a sort of inverted version of the land our "cowboy" sought to escape. The film brilliantly explores the absurdities of the symbiotic relationship between a past-its-prime US and a rising "New China" without for a single moment retreating into lame explication, preachiness, or other sanctimonies. Every character is memorable, from "the Specialist" to the foul-mouthed scooter salesman, and the documentary style makes the film feel as real as anything without stretching credulity -- even when it makes a "Sorry To Bother You"-style turn into the realm of the absurd. This is one of the best U.S. indies I've seen in years, and deserves cult status! P.S. I felt obligated to leave a good review of this film considering the poor user ratings (5.5 at the time that this was written) and dearth of buzz it seems to have received from mainstream audiences.
Directors: John Maringouin
Production: Lightshow Films, Big Horn Global, Sino-American Regional Trade Enterprise, 23rd Street Films, Grunkok Company, Scope Dog
Tech entrepreneur Jimmy Van Horn arrives in China armed with an invention and confidence, only to learn that being American is not enough to succeed.