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Andy Garcia Special Guest of Karlovy Vary Fest

Andy Garcia Special Guest of Karlovy Vary Fest
and a Touch of Class with Jacqueline Bisset

Andy Garcia, Cuban born actor (Havana, 1956) will be honored with a career award and will also present his hotly awaited new film "Lost City" this week in Karlovy Vary. The film, which deals with the rise of Fidel Castro, has raised hackles in certain circles because of the less than sympathetic light in which Counter-Culture and perennial youth hero, Che Guevara, is shown among other things. However, Andy comes from that neck of the jungle and undoubtedly has a view that will be either politically correct or politically incorrect, depending on which side of the Castro-Che Guevara fence one prefers to straddle.

Andres Garcia was born in Havana in 1956 but was brought to the States at the tender age of five when his parents, who were of the "wrong background" (i.e., affluent, middle-class "bourgeois"), had to flee Castro's Communist takeover. Garcia then grew up in the Miami Cuban emigre community and finally ended up in Hollywood where his astounding Latin good looks were discovered leading to an inevitable screen career in Tinseltown. The first film in which Garcia gained some notice was in Hal Ashby’s “8 Million Ways to Die in L.A.” (1986) in which he played a sleazy but dandyish cocaine drug lord with a slick pony tail hairdo. His next outing was as one of Eliot Ness’ cops in Brian De Palma’s “The Untouchables”, (1987). The size of his roles began to expand when he played Michael Douglas’ detective sidekick in Ridley Scott’s Japanese set thriller “Black Rain”, (1989). He then co-starred with Richard Gere in a police corruption drama entitled “Internal Affairs” (Mike Friggs, 1990), which wasn’t much of a hit but served to elevate Garcia to something like leading man status.

The film that finally got Andy some respect and real recognition was Coppola’s “Godfather III” (1990) in which he had an important role and for which he received a supporting actor Oscar nomination. Now a leading man, he starred in such films as “Jennifer Eight”, (Bruce Robinson 1992) – again as a cop, protecting a blind Uma Thurman from a serial killer --and as an alcoholic Meg Ryan’s harassed husband in “When a Man loves a Woman”, (Luis Mandoki, 1994). Both films are now pretty much forgotten, but Andy was now high-rolling in the company of Hollywood’s top leading ladies. Meg and Uma – whew!

Throughout the nineties Garcia starred in a long list of forgettable flicks, in many of which he had come to be type-cast as a sincere sort of detective, with unusual good looks, or a hard-core Latin criminal, something like a pale echo of George Raft from the good old gangster flick days. … all this culminating in his Lucky Luciano role in the film “Hoodlum” (1999), which was actually a Larry Fishburne vehicle about Harlem in the thirties. By this time Andy was over forty and, it seems to me, his striking good looks had been largely wasted on too many heavy roles, whereas, had he been caste more in a romantic Tyrone Power like mold, he might have become the leading Latin Lover of the day. But Andy always seemed to have too much of a serious side to him, to go that route. So, continuing in the by now established underworld mold, he was cast as a Casino Owner by hot director Steven Sonderbergh in the extremely light-weight all-star re-make of the gangster comedy “Oceans Eleven”, in 2001. Garcia held his own in this all-superstar cast (Clooney, Pitt, Sean Penn, Julia Roberts, et al ) and, though this was a throwaway picture (but big box-office hit) that didn’t do much for anyone’s career, it placed him in the public mind as somehow within the exalted sphere of the George Clooney ‘ratpack’.

In 2004 Garcia portrayed the famous early twentieth century painter of outrageous nudes, Amadeo Modigliani, in a film called “Modigliani”, a six country co-production including Romania. Perfectly cast he received positive reviews for his acting, but it was a film which disappeared very quietly -- another solid role in a quickly forgotten film, again failing to place him in that elusive Richard Gere–type “bankability category”. The same year came the inevitable sequel to “Oceans Eleven”, harrumph – “Oceans Twelve!” – and so again Andy was up there on all the billboards in the company of the George Clooney bubblegum starpack. By now, Andy had become a well known face, and occasionally a leading man with, perhaps, a certain fan following but, for some slippery reason, top stardom has continued to elude him
Having now turned to production, and in the current “Lost City” to direction as well, while simultaneously tackling the leading role, this just might be the picture to finally make Andy a top star at the age of fifty. Never having strayed from his pre-Castro Cuban roots this is a story straight from the heart, which he has wanted to tell for many years to set the Castro Revolution record straight. The project has been on his mind, in fact, says Garcia, for sixteen years. In any case, it is nice to see this nice American kid from Havana getting his due at the Karlovy Vary film festival, which was once the Communist World showcase.

Besides Andy Garcia, who might be regarded as an almost-star in search of true stardom, another special guest of the fest is to be still beauteous and statuesque British actress Jacqueline Bisset who, now sixty-one years young -- has ‘been there and done that’ as far as international stardom is concerned. She will be here to present her latest film along with French director Luc Besson. Ms. Bisset has been an international film star since the late 1960s and has worked with such directors as John Huston, Francois Truffaut, George Cukor and Roman Polanski. She played opposite Steve McQueen in “Bullitt” (1968) and also starred in Trufaut’s “Day For Night” (1973), but it was her stunning figure which made the big splash in “The Deep”, (1977) and made her an international sex symbol for a while as well. Her underwater swimming scenes in that movie inspired the worldwide wet T-shirt craze, and Newsweek magazine declared her "the most beautiful film actress of all time". However, she hated the wet T-shirt scenes because she felt exploited. At the time of filming she was not told that the filmmakers would shoot the scenes in such a provocative way, and she felt tricked. Sol from Brooklyn, an Imdb commentator, informs us that: “The first five minutes of "The Deep" with the beautiful Jackie Bisset scuba diving underwater in her wet T-shirt is so hot and sizzling that it almost evaporated the waters of the Caribbean Sea. You completely lose interest in the sunken treasure of Spanish gold and a sunken dope treasure of 100,000 anvils of morphine … as soon as you see Miss Bisset under or out of the water. Presumably most of her scenes here in Karlovy will be on dry land, but if she decides to take a dip in the Thermal Hotel pool, I’ll be there!
by Alex Deleon

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