72 Hours With the Best (and Worst) of NYC in Ensemble Pic The Hungry Ghosts


Jouncing between acting exercises, The Hungry Ghosts’ umbrella theme is the search for some holistic wellness in the hectic, enervating climes of Greater New York, set over one day, night, and morning-after. The film gestated at Off-Broadway’s Studio Dante, run by Michael Imperioli, who has invited the cream of indigenous NYC acting to perform his writing/directing debut. Frank (Steven R. Schirripa), host of a call-in radio show, looks like his next meal of deli meat, cocaine, and vodka could be his last. News that Frank has misplaced his teenage son (Emory Cohen) hits hothead ex-wife Sharon (Sharon Angela) during a touchingly played bad-idea flirt, leaving Joe Caniano’s very funny hangdog uncle the family’s lunkish rock of sanity. Elsewhere, Gus (Nick Sandow), a homely-charismatic tramp-poet, barrels out of rehab—and headlong off the wagon that night with an acquired wino sidekick (Jim “Commander USA” Hendricks, with perfect vituperous drunken suspicion). On the side, Gus is incessantly voice-mailing ex-girlfriend Nadia (Aunjanue Ellis), off on her own odyssey of screwing skinny hipsters into submission. A choppy bumper-car ride of scenes, full of keyed-in performers, runs of vernacular dialogue, and narrative blindsides, The Hungry Ghosts is very audacious on sex (kink risking parody) and wise on the divide between self-serving histrionics and worthwhile good deeds: “I’d cut my right hand off for him,” says Frank, and receives the logical comeback: “You don’t have to do that.”