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Labors of love on the screen 


Market Street Cinema has an interesting movie on for another week –- Andy Garcia’s “The Lost City,” a love letter to his native Cuba, in which Garcia not only directed and starred, but also composed the music and performed much of it on piano. It’s a period piece centered around the rebellion against President Batista in 1958, not only by Castro and his communist-backed army but by other rebels seeking a free Cuba.

Garcia plays Fico Fellove, owner of El Tropico, a cabaret-nightclub in Havana. The best moments of the film are the music performances in El Tropico, as well as those by street musicians. Garcia, however, plays a song-and-dance man with the dourness of his Terry Benedict character (though without the ball-breaking ferociousness) from the “Ocean’s 11” and “Ocean’s 12” films. Fico’s and his family’s tragic story — one brother fights for liberty, another sides with Castro’s legions, while Fico and his father and uncle prefer the status quo — makes for good drama, but it’s the color and music that make the film.

I was lucky enough a few weeks to ago to see another labor of love, this one on a lot more limited budget. Shoestring, in fact. Little Rock native Jeff Nichols screened “Shotgun Stories” for friends and possible investors at Pleasant Valley Country Club. He warned everyone beforehand that it still needed more work. I didn’t go as media, or a reviewer, per se.

But after seeing it, I asked Jeff if I could get the word out. It’s a great story, about three brothers battling four other brothers, all of whom call the same man their father but who hate each other. Nichols and a cinematographer friend from North Carolina beautifully filmed the movie mostly around England and Scott. For a soundtrack, Nichols only had to look to his brother, Lucero’s Ben Nichols, who provided background acoustic guitar and more.

Jeff Nichols’ goal now is to get the film ready and entered in Sundance. His labor of love is going to require some help — he can’t go around like Andy Garcia and get Hollywood big-shots to open their wallets — but this story about real people and real places, in Central Arkansas, needs to be seen. If you’re interested in learning more, e-mail Jeff at jeffnic@hotmail.com.


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