Roger L. Simon

Hollywood goes Havana ... but not in the usual pro-Castro way

Last night I attended the premiere of Cuban-American actor/director Andy Garcia’s The Lost City (trailer here), which opens next week. The movie is an epic about a Cuban family in the time immediately before and after the revolution. One brother is a social democrat, one a committed Fidelista and the third (Garcia) is the Bogartish owner of El Tropico, an Afro-Cuban night club where much of the action takes place. (The movie is infused with Cuban music and dance and has a sensational sound track.) The screenplay is by the recently deceased Cuban novelist Cabrera Infante who was an early on a supporter of Fidel and then decamped for Paris as the regime became more totalitarian.

Andy, a friend of mine, has been working on this film for eighteen years, so to say it is a labor of love is an understatement. The movie is in many senses the story of Garcia’s own family and is infused with a passion almost never seen in commercial filmmaking these days. When his character makes the final decision to leave Havana for New York, the scene of his departure is gut-wrenching. You feel Garcia’s own father climbing onto that DC3. This is a real “cinema from the heart.”