Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Lost City

I loved Godfather part 3.

I know I'm in the minority.

But I think that movie is really ambitious, and the ideas, and themes were very effective.

I loved how Coppola explored the idea of the higher the Corleone Family went into supposedly legitimate, and respected society, the more corrupt the world revealed itself to be.

Even the church, and religion weren't beyond corruption.

It also explored how the sins of the father would come back to haunt the family.

Generations of violence catching up to deal it's most tragic blow.

All in the package of a Godfather movie.

Yeah, some of the execution was off, and losing Robert Duvall was a huge blow to the story. But I still liked the movie for what it was.

Although there was mixed opinions about the actual movie. Everyone was in agreement that Andy Garcia was fantastic in the film. He received an academy award nomination for Best supporting actor, and everyone saw him as the next great leading man in the same mold of Al Pacino, and Robert DeNiro.

When Francis Ford Coppola was asked why he cast Andy Garcia in the film, his response was "He looked, and acted like a Corleone."

It doesn't get any better than that.

So.....what the hell happened?

A few flops like Steal Big, Steal Little, Desperate Measures and Gangster, and suddenly Andy Garcia is playing bitch to George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

The Lost City was a movie that I've heard about for many years.

It's been well known that it was a dream project for Andy Garcia.

His life work, and ambition.

I remember reading an article about how disappointed he was in the movie version of the Mambo Kings. He felt that the movie failed to capture the authenticity of Cuban heritage, and the community.

He basically felt it was Cuba, the cliff notes version.

So for years I looked out for The Lost City. I wanted to see what kind of movie Andy Garcia can make, how he would share the Cuban experience on film.

The results are disappointing.

The Lost City tells the tale of a Cuban family caught up in the chaos of Cuba's transition from the corrupt, oppressive government of Batista to Fidel Castro's communist dictatorship.

The main problem with the film is that it's obviously working with a limited budget.

It's also much too ambitious for a first time director. There's too much in the film going on, too many plot lines, too many characters, and not a strong effective through-line for the film.

It's like Andy Garcia wanted to put everything he loved about Cuba, and movies in one film.


There's plenty of Cuban music and dance, Garcia's character owns a nightclub.

The story, also features his two brothers, who take two drastically opposing viewpoints to bring democracy to Cuba.

It's also about a family dealing with the chaotic times.

There's also a love story between Andy Garcia and his brother's widow.

There's Andy Garcia's friendship with a noble police officer.

There's Castro's army looming in the mountains.

There's Batista's corrupt Government.

There's the workings of the Cuban nightclub, which includes a friendship with a nameless comic, played by Bill Murray.

Finally when things go bad we ALSO see how the family is destroyed, and how Andy Garcia is forced to leave the country he loves, to go to America.

Oh yeah, there's also Meyer Lansky, played by Dustin Hoffman, hovering about.

So a lot of stuff.

What we get is a bunch of storylines, ideas, and characters mixed up in this confusing, and ineffective history lesson.

It's just too much content, and not enough story or character development.

The audience is not given enough time to really become attached or sympathize with any of the characters.

We're too busy trying to absorb what's going on in the film.

All the characters ends up feeling so distant.

It honestly feels like it wants to be an 8 hour mini-series.

But what we get is a chopped up version of that script.

There's some interesting stuff in the movie. Garcia's performance is engaging, although he's obviously spreading himself too thin.

Bill Murray is effortlessly doing excellent work in the film.

But he's not in it nearly enough, and his character isn't important enough to really contribute to the main story. He just goes around ironically commenting on the proceedings.

Some of the scenes, and imagery are well executed. Shots, and locales are interesting. Performances are adequate and serviceable.

But in all honesty, the whole thing ends up being just mediocre, and forgettable.

Make no mistake the movie is ambitious, and it's heart is in the right place.

But it's simply too much movie.

For everyone involved.

I get the sense that if Andy Garcia had just pulled back. Maybe just choosing one aspect, or storyline to film, the results would have been much more positive.

Instead we get a mess.

Yeah it's sometimes interesting, even at points effective........ but ultimately a flawed mess.


It's available now on DVD.

1 comment:

Emma said...

I believe our first conversation (and thus argument) was Godfather-related, so I will refrain from commenting much... but it's nice to know that you thought The Lost City was disappointing.