American Dreamz

[Amazon Link] [1.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

A very disappointing lousy movie. Disappointing because the writer/director, Paul Weitz, had a previous movie, In Good Company, that was everything this one was not: funny, with likeable, believable, non-stereotypical characters. He also did About a Boy, also pretty good.

The premise is … well, there's something about an American Idol-like TV show, with a Simon Cowell-like host (played by Hugh Grant); a Dubya-like president (Dennis Quaid), puppeteered by a Rove/Cheney-like chief of staff (Willem Dafoe); an ambitious star-wannabe (Mandy Moore); a lovable show-tunes-loving terrorist. Could have been something funny in all that.

But American Dreamz just stinks. All the characters are either dolts or shits, and have no personality beyond what I would imagine was the one-sentence description in the initial pitch.

Disclaimer: I may have missed something, having fallen asleep for a good fraction of any hour in the middle of this. I doubt it, though. As the perceptive Ross Douthat writes: "Satire is funny; lectures aren't."

Last Modified 2022-10-16 5:41 PM EDT

The Lost City

[Amazon Link, See Disclaimer] [4.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

Andy Garcia directed, produced, and starred in this movie, which follows the tragic impact of the Cuban Revolution on the wealthy Fellove family. It faithfully shows how the brutality of the Batista regime was replaced by the even worse brutality of the Castro regime.

It's well-acted and beautifully shot. At 140 minutes, it takes its sweet time to tell its story, but it held my interest all the way through.

Dustin Hoffman shows up as Meyer Lansky. Also notable is Bill Murray in a role that calls for him to provide wisecracking commentary on the goings-on; he does a Jack Benny imitation near the beginning that is worth the price of admission. (He does a second imitation near the end that I couldn't place.)

Last Modified 2022-10-16 5:41 PM EDT