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Film Openings

Week of May 24, 2006

CSA: The Confederate States of America. (Not Rated) What if the South had won the Civil War? If the Emancipation Proclamation had been merely a rhetorical gesture from a President who would soon be exiled to Canada, would the United States be a world power promoting the enslavement of entire races in the name of freedom? That's the question asked by CSA, a mock documentary by writer-director Kevin Willmott. Wacky, hodgepodge, and decidedly homemade, the film nevertheless is worth seeing. Sure, it veers off into nonsense, and there are times when it loses its center. But the premise, the passion, and the scathing political commentary ultimately keep CSA afloat. If nothing else, it wins points for bravery, for its willingness to damn current U.S. policies and to expose racism so institutionalized that many people don't even notice it (by comparing both to a state of enslavement, which, in the end, is what CSA does). Willmott's Confederate States is eerily, harrowingly similar to the United States we know. (Melissa Levine) TV

The Lost City. (R) Andy Garcia's film set amid the Cuban Revolution stylistically revisits The Godfather, complete with multi-scion-in-tuxes dynasty, formal translated-to-English patois, deep umber shadows, concerns about "respect," meetings with sly Jews (Dustin Hoffman as an inscrutable Meyer Lansky) — even an old-timer (Richard Bradford) having a coronary in a sunny garden. In production for two decades or so, Garcia's pet project (written by the late novelist and critic Guillermo Cabrera Infante) focuses first on three upper-class brothers (played by Garcia, Nestor Carbonell, and Enrique Murciano) as the 1959 usurpation looms. Staged with credibility and loads of Cubano flair, the film slows to a sludgy crawl amid the reactionary romanticism; like a rumba-inflected Gone With the Wind, Garcia's tale bemoans the loss of easy wealth for a precious few. Poor people are absolutely absent, as if peasant revolutions happen for no particular reason. (Michael Atkinson) PF

X-Men: The Last Stand. (PG-13) Reviewed in this issue. (Luke Y. Thompson) ARN, CPP, CGX, CW10, CC12, DP, EG, EQ, GL, J14, MR, OF, RON, SP, STCH, STCL, WO