June 1, 2006

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The Lost City (R)
Andy Garcia shows us Havana of 1958 and how it changed from an island paradise to a “workers’ paradise” under Fidel Castro in The Lost City.

Fico (Garcia) is a club owner who enjoys his life, which is full of friends, affairs with dancing girls and Sunday dinners with his large, prosperous family. But life in the country is changing. Two of his brothers are involved with revolutionary forces — one working for democracy, the other working for the unclear intentions of the rebel Fidel Castro (Gonzalo Menendez). Fico simply wants to own his club and stay out of politics but the country’s politics seems to be wedging its way into the club, primarily in the form of Meyer Lansky (Dustin Hoffman). The mobster, with the tacit approval of President Batista (Juan Fernandez), pretty much had the run of Cuba and was free to set up gambling establishments. Fico wants nothing to do with Lansky and nothing to do with the revolution as well. But soon his brothers are caught up in it and Fico finds himself the only son attending Sunday dinner.

Complicating the political climate is the heat between Fico and one of his brother’s wives, Aurora (Ines Sastre).

The Lost City is lovely — lovely but dull. Its characters are attractive people but they speak almost entirely in political speeches and bad love poetry. The movie also drags on, ending a good 45 minutes after it should. Though the revolution in Cuba is interesting, the movie is more fascinated with the feelings that accompanied the event and its aftermath than the actual historical facts. Too bad, because a dictator fleeing his country at midnight as Batista did (remember that scene from The Godfather?) is pretty dramatic. We get a swirl of beautiful buildings, beautiful people, beautiful food and beautiful music — a scrapbook of a land that haunts memories but doesn’t really exist any more. But, rather than being enchanted by the melancholy, we’re left hanging while Garcia (who also directed the movie) gets lost in his own story. The result is something akin to watching someone remember something. They see scenes from the past drift by; all we see is someone with a dreamy look on his face. C-


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