Friday, April 28, 2006

Did Times Critic Bother to Watch The Lost City?

Not surprisingly, The Lost City, a film critical of Communist icons Fidel Castro and Che Guevara received a negative review in the NY Times. Reading parts of Stephen Holden’s review however, makes me question if he even bothered to watch the film before writing the review. Holden writes: “Garcia’s ode to the Havana of pre-Communist Cuba, is a romantic epic manqué that swoons across the screen for nearly two and a half hours without saying much, beyond that life sure was peachy before Fidel Castro came to town and ruined everything.”

In point of fact, The Lost City scrupulously critiques both the Battista and Castro regimes. Battista goons kill one brother of Andy Garcia’s Fico Fellove, and imprison his other brother. Fellove’s professor father writes a speech for a distinguished senator calling for Battista’s resignation. The senator is then assassinated. This film hardly carries any water for Battista. In actuality, it is far more nuanced politically than Holden’s knee-jerk review.

In recapping the story, Holden writes: “Fico’s two younger brothers, Luis (Nestor Carbonell) and Ricardo (Enrique Murciano), fervently embrace the revolution, but Fico predicts the country’s destruction under Castro.” Again, did Holden actually see the film? Fico’s character is apolitical. It is brother Luis, an anti-Battista, anti-Castro revolutionary who warns him of the oppressive consequences of a victory for Castro’s Communists.

Holden is correct when he praises the film for being “splendidly panoramic and drenched in wonderful Cuban music,” but he is woefully off-point throughout the rest of the review. One wonders if he pulled a Jayson Blair, bagged the screening, and cobbled together his review from the press materials.