Andy Garcia’s “The Lost City” Is Excellent

Earlier this week my wife and I watched The Lost City (June 2006), starring Andy Garcia, who also produced and directed the movie.

It’s was best movie I’ve seen in months.

The film is Garcia’s own personal love letter to Cuba — the Cuba that existed before Fidel Castro’s “revolution.” It is a pulsating world of lively music, palpable sensuality, and tight-knit families.

The writing and acting are excellent throughout, and the cinematography is spectacularly beautiful. The movie is highly stylized — the opposite of naturalism, you could say.

Fidel Castro really takes it in the chin in this film. Predictably, mainstream movie reviewers panned the movie for its failure to conform to Hollywood’s preferred version of Cuban history, i.e., that Castro was leading a “people’s revolution,” etc.

Humberto Fontova — who was born in Cuba, like Garcia — wrote an article for NewsMax characterizing the left’s reaction to the movie:

Earlier, many film festivals refused to screen it. Now many Latin American countries refuse to show it. The film’s offenses are many and varied. Most unforgivable of all, Che Guevara is shown killing people in cold blood. Who ever heard of such nonsense? And just where does this uppity Andy Garcia get the effrontery to portray such things? The man obviously doesn’t know his place.

And:

Andy Garcia and screenwriter Guillermo Cabrera Infante knew full well that “the working poor” had no role in the stage of the Cuban revolution shown in the movie. The anti-Batista rebellion was led and staffed overwhelmingly by Cuba’s middle and, especially, upper class. To wit: In August of 1957 Castro’s rebel movement called for a “national strike” against the Batista dictatorship — and threatened to shoot workers who reported to work. The “national strike” was completely ignored.

Another was called for April 9, 1958. And again Cuban workers blew a loud and collective raspberry at their “liberators,” reporting to work en masse.

“Garcia’s tale bemoans the loss of easy wealth for a precious few,” harrumphs Michael Atkinson in The Village Voice. “Poor people are absolutely absent; Garcia and Infante seem to have thought that peasant revolutions happen for no particular reason — or at least no reason the moneyed 1 percent should have to worry about.”

What’s “absolutely absent” is Mr. Atkinson’s knowledge about the Cuba Garcia depicts in his movie. His crack about that “moneyed 1 percent” and especially his “peasant revolution” epitomize the cliched idiocies still parroted by the chattering classes about Cuba.

While political upheaval drives the movie’s plot, the movie itself is valuable and enjoyable on multiple levels — many of which have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with “life as it might be and ought to be.”

I recommend it highly.

The movie is available for purchase from Amazon.com. You can watch the trailer — which doesn’t really do the movie justice — at Apple. And you may also enjoy NPR’s interview with Garcia about the movie.