Friday, May 26, 2006

The Lost City

Kathryn Jean Lopez reviews Andy Garcia's movie about the Cuban Revolution. Early on in the review she succumbs to the temptation to use the movie to take shots at the American left. Ignore that stuff and skip down to this part:

Che [Guevara]—a Communist responsible for Castro’s gulags—was a monster. But nothing I could tell you about him could do him the kind of justice that Garcia’s film does. You see some of Guevara’s brutality, but Garcia’s most powerful scene may be the one where Fico himself faces Che. When Fico is forced to confront the executioner on prison grounds on behalf of a friend, the viewer feels not only Garcia’s anger and disgust (he himself, as a child, fled this tyrant’s thuggery), but the pain and hatred of an entire people whose lives were irrevocably changed by the Castro-Guevara nightmare. This is Garcia’s moment: You watch a race of overwhelming emotions in the character, and you have the palpable sense it’s not all acting.

There is another haunting scene as you take the heart-wrenching walk with Fico when he embarks on his journey out of Cuba to Lady Liberty’s arms, you might as well be watching home movies from the Garcia family’s own exit (Andy was a young child at the time); the emotion is that raw.

Garcia’s movie has clearly touched a nerve already: It has been banned in several South American countries. No surprise, given that “Viva Che” is a natural mantra for the likes of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. And we can’t forget, of course, about Fidel Castro, in power since 1959, with doctors threatening he could live to be 140—60 more years.

Garcia has said in response to the controversy about his movie: “Some people think Castro is a savior, that he looks out for kids and the poor. It's a bunch of hogwash. In the 45 years since Castro has been in power, Cuba has been in the top three countries for human rights abuses for 43 of those years. People turn a blind eye to his atrocities.” Not Andy Garcia though.

Unfortunately, here at home, The Lost City is in limited release and not nearly as easy to come upon as Che shirts. But Hollywood is the better for it, even if it saves its embraces for Che whitewashes. It won’t win an Oscar, but it certainly more than earned my ten bucks. Consider the price of your movie ticket or DVD purchase a challenge to the movie industry, a vote of praise for Garcia’s labor of love and heartache, and a friendly wave to people who love what we have—liberty.
As Lopez points out, the move has gotten poor reviews, mostly for being too long and all over the place, but it is interesting to note that the more substantial blurbs from the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes seem to agree with Lopez. And many of the big name reviewers, Ebert and Roeper for example, gave it positive reviews.

It's not playing anywhere near here, but I'm going to watch The Lost City the first chance I get.

1 comment:

greg said...

Good for Andy Garcia. The Motorcycle Diaries got alot of press and Hollywood acclaim for portraying Che as an idealistic, altruistic folk hero. Now we've got drama teachers wearing Viva Che shirts at our high schools (seriously, there's one in my district). Rest assured that every student in my 3 history classes knows the truth about communism.