Monday, May 01, 2006

Not all reviews of the Lost City are negative.

Val Prieto has posted a scorching editorial by Humberto Fontova about some of the negative reviews Andy Garcia's film the Lost City has generated from left-wing types who don't agree with the historical content of the film.

Well, it's not all bad news. Ebert and Roeper, arguably the two most important film critics in the country, both gave the film thumbs up.

In my opinion their criticisms of the film are fair. They both felt the movie could be about 20 minutes shorter, and I agree. The first half of the film drags a little bit. Some of the dialogue also sounded a little stilted and contrived in the first part of the film. I remember one line in particular where Fico's father says words to the effect of "The reason I called this meeting...". It just doesn't sound the way a father would talk to his sons. I think there were several scenes where Garcia tries to establish the romance between Fico and his brother's widow that could have been cut. After one or two of these scenes, we get the picture.

All in all the movie is very good and could be great with some additional editing. This is a valid criticism that has been leveled against the film since some of its earliest screenings and I'm surprised that Mr. Garcia didn't try to do more to make it tighter. After all, he certainly could show any deleted scenes in the DVD release. Watching deleted scenes or director's cuts is one of my favorite parts of watching DVDs. Here's another tip. Watch movies that you really like with the closed captioning. You get to read all of the dialogue which sometimes you miss because of the characters are whispering or yelling or what have you.

Ebert and Roeper were also critical of Bill Murray's character in the movie. I read somewhere that his character is supposed to be that of the author of the screenplay, Guillermo Cabrera Infante. In that role, Murray gives comic relief in otherwise unbearable circumstances. Cubans are blessed with a great sense of humor, even in the face of tragedy and I think this fact was lost on Ebert and Roeper.

Anyway, go see the movie and judge for yourself!

4 comments:

gansibele said...

I have to disagree with you on the language part. Fico and his family are upper class and educated (his father is a professor at the University of Havana.) Upper class Cubans strived to use elaborate, somewhat archaic speech, much like the British for example. It was a sign of education. It does sound contrived in English, but if you read "Tres Tristes Tigres" you'll see it's pretty faithful to the novel. It's funny, as I was watching the movie I was mentally translating it and it sounded much better in Spanish.

There were many parts that show a lot of attention to detail. El Tropico's logo uses the same font as Tropicana, the entrance looks the same with the fountain and the statue of the dancer in neon. The dancer drink stirrer, those are real. How much the actor who plays Che Guevara looks like him. Obviously I saw tons of pictures growing up, and from 3/4 angle it's a perfect doppelganger. The music was great... Lecuona, Bola de Nieve, Benny More (the dubbing was obvious on this one). The historical characters; Batista, Ventura Novo, Carbó Serviá, etc. Some parts were cheesy (the part where Fico crashes the reception and challenges Guevara and Castro) but nevertheless I loved the movie and didn't find it that long. But of course I saw many things that'll go over the heads of anybody who doesn't know Cuba's history.

songuacassal said...

Though I haven't seen the movie yet(it comes out May 19th in only one movie theater here in liberal Chicago) I have to say that in terms of language, Spanish is always a little more formal than English. And Like Ganisbele said, if it's a Professor, then this is most definitely true. I guess what's most important is can the movie convey this reality? If not, then it will seem stilted no matter how true it is. I'll no for sure when I see it.

With that said:

I AM DYING TO WATCH THIS MOVIE...

Albert Quiroga said...

Spot-on observation on Bill Murray's character - it serves to break up the tension and inevitable depression that starts settling in, as the inevitable outcome creeps closer...I saw him also as embodying the spirit of the "Americano simpatico," of which there were many living in Cuba, pragmatic and endowed with a sense of humor - humor being the painkiller for the heartbreak that would follow the coming of the bearded bastard.

Anonymous said...

My cousin was Castro's Chaplain, Comandante Guillermo Sardinas Menendez, in the guerrilla struggle against Batista. My family is left-leaning, yet I applaud Andy Garcia's presentation of the cuban reality of the 1950's.

It is lamentable that the misleading leftists of Hollywood seek to distort historic reality to suit their romantic Robert Redfordian views of the so-called Cuban Revolution. I suggest that Hollywood accept historical reality for what it is...

No, Che Guevara was not a great man. He was a spoiled, embittered rich man's son with a homicidal tendency who presiding over the firing squad executions of thousands of good Cubans. And no, El Che never finished his medical studies--thus debunking the Communist myth. No, Castro is not a great man. He is the diabolical bastard son of a notorious cattle rustler and robber-baron who stole thousands of acres of peasant lands after retiring from the Spanish Army where he contributed to the deaths of hundreds of patriotic Cuban rebels seeking freedom from Spain. And no, Castro is not the black man's friend. He is known as a notorious racist among Cubans. The man who Castro overthrew, Batista, was a non-white Cuban who enjoyed overwhelming support from Cuba's non-white population--despite the myth Hollywood longs to promote.

When Cuban Rebel Air Force Major, Orestes Lorenzo, was approached by Hollywood to create a movie about his daring airplane rescue of his family from Castro's clutches, Lorenzo was repulsed by the Hollywood manipulators of historical reality. A man of integrity, Lorenzo refused to allow Hollywood to make the deceptive film...