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"The Lost City"

Directed by Andy Garcia.
Written by G. Cabrera Infante.
Starring Andy Garcia, Inés Sastre, Bill Murray and Dustin Hoffman.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  5/28/06


I'm not sure what to say about "The Lost City" besides this--I fucking loved it!

The tale of a cabaret owner named Fico (Andy Garcia) and his extended family over the course of more than a year in late 1950s Havana, "The Lost City" feels like an epic that runs much longer than 12 months because it really does have it all: political strife as the government before Fidel Castro shows up; a whirlwind romance; Latin song-and-dance numbers; some laughs, thanks to Fico's good friend The Writer (Bill Murray); some gunshots in the back of decent revolutionaries; a drop-dead gorgeous Dominican Republic that is standing in for Cuba.  The performances from Garcia on down are fantastic; the leading lady is played by Inés Sastre, who immediately gives Salma Hayek a solid run for her money; oh, the music!  the passion!  the horror!!

Seriously, I can't say enough good things about "The Lost City", even though I am trying.  It's a patient film, but one that even at 150 minutes doesn't feel like it is plodding; conversations play out slowly, the editing is consistently good, characters have visceral reactions to Castro's rule but reactions that never seem to reach out of character.  We follow Fico for the most part, but the diversions in seeing what Fico's brothers (played by Nestor Carbonell and Enrique Murciano) are doing helps extend the life of the product.  The passion that Garcia brings to his role is excellent; similarly, the don of the family, played by Tomas Milian, really gets you right here with his portrayal of a man running a family that in many ways is running itself into the ground.

Just go out and see this movie.  You will like it or you will pay the price!

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09