May 7, 2006


Andy Garcia's Thought Crime (Humberto Fontova, May 1, 2006,

Andy Garcia blew it big-time with his movie The Lost City. He blew it with the mainstream critics that is. Almost unanimously, they're tearing apart a movie 16 years in the making, which Garcia both directed and stars in. In this engaging drama of a middle-class Cuban family crumbling during free Havana's last days, Garcia insisted on depicting some historical truth about Cuba -- a grotesque and unforgivable blunder in his industry. He's now paying the price.

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. [...]

Garcia has seriously jolted the Mainstream Media's fantasies and hallucinations of pre-Castro Cuba, Che, Fidel, and Cubans in general. In consequence, the critics are unnerved and disoriented and their annoyance and scorn are spewing forth in review after review.

"In a movie about the Cuban revolution, we almost never see any of the working poor for whom the revolution was supposedly fought," sniffs Peter Reiner in The Christian Science Monitor. "The Lost City' misses historical complexity." [...]

"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." [...]

"The impoverished masses of Cubans who embraced Castro as a liberator appear only in grainy, black-and-white news clips," snorts Stephen Holden in The New York Times. "Political dialogue in the film is strictly of the junior high school variety."

"It fails to focus on the poverty-stricken workers whose plight lit the fires of revolution," complains Rex Reed in the New York Observer.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Jonathan Alter say in the pages of the NY Times itself that: The most enduring [myths about Cuba] on the left are that the United States drove Castro into the hands of the Soviets (DePalma explores documents from the Soviet archives that suggest the Soviets offered to send military trainers into Cuba well before the relationship with the United States deteriorated) and, most perniciously, that there is still something romantic and appealing about the Cuban revolution.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 7, 2006 7:01 PM

Holy Moses, Mr. Fontova just piano-wires all the pro-Castro talking points. Great article!

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 7, 2006 8:36 PM

Sounds a lot like the critics are releasing their venom on a film where it's safe to do so, since the events depicted are 45-50 years in the past and is unknown or a dim memory to most of their readers (the same critics no doubt would have like to have uncorked on "Flight 93" on political grounds if they thought they could get away with it. But even with the divisiveness in the country today the memories of 9/11 are too close to the surface to trash a movie that unfolds in real time and based on available transcripts).

Posted by: John at May 7, 2006 9:06 PM

While the likes of the VV are attacking Mr. Garcia's work, which sounds splendid, others in the media have broken ranks thank goodness. The Trib had a decent enough feature on Garcia in todays arts section, and Bon Appetit, iirc, lat month had him in their celebrities and what they cook/eat section.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 7, 2006 10:39 PM

To hell with those hypocrites. The "working poor", the "impoverished masses" these critics pretend to care about, they are still there. I have seen for myself the crumbling houses in Havana. In a tropical rain the water pours out of the front door. Beggars and prostitutes are everywhere and from what I have heard, the clinics have no medicines. People are not starving but were they starving in 1958? Would Cuba have been worse off without the communists? If it is still a beautiful island with great people, it is because The Party still hasn´t found a way to fix that.

Posted by: wf at May 8, 2006 7:34 PM

Where can one find this movie?

Posted by: Genecis at May 8, 2006 10:20 PM

Gen, I've reserved it at Netflix. I think if they get enough requests, they'll add it to their lists. o/t - How pale and insignificant was our existence before Netflix!

Posted by: erp at May 9, 2006 8:15 AM