104 Min. | Drama – Music | May 1992
IMDB Rating: 6.4
Director: Arne Glimcher
Staring: Armand Assante, Antonio Banderas, Cathy Moriarty
The Mambo Kings Review: There are many great movies that have been made over the past century; one of them is The Mambo Kings. In this film two brothers who are forced to leave their home land of Cuba in the early 1950’s and head to America for a chance at embarking on a dream of becoming a musical powerhouse in the New York City dance hall craze. The brothers Nestor and Cesar Castillos form the Mambo Kings band and together become legends in their own time while facing a barrage of betrayal, lost love, success and death. This was a most opportune time for the Castillo brothers as during this time in Cuba the Batista regime was beginning to hinder down preceding the Castro dictatorship. A classic story about coming from nothing and rising to success, The Mambo Kings is one of the most beautiful stories ever written. It is an unusual movie because in that it does not stick to movie cliches or points of predictability.
The characters in The Mambo Kings were played to perfection. The interaction between Cesar and Nestor seemed almost too real at times. On one end there is Cesar, has not a need for dreams in life but to be successful in his own manner by not succumbing to the temptations others present. On the other end there is the brother who is a dreamer, who wants to be successful just as his brother wants to be, but in his own way, by playing music for the sake of playing music that is from the soul. Their relationship is one of many siblings have experienced. The oldest, Cesar, is a protector, he possesses the knowledge of a wise and crafty man. While his brother, a young, naive person that could not see how things really were. It is because of these things Cesar assumes the leadership role in securing Nestor’s position in life while at the same time, he is struggling to secure himself in this world in doing so.
In The Mambo Kings, one great aspect featured was the use of cinematography. Most of the scenes were shot inside the dance halls that were very famous spots in the 50’s and showed so many vibrant colors through out those scenes that one could not help but stay alert. Also, the transitions were executed quite nicely, such as the montage of Nestor and Cesar searching in the New York City streets for a club that would hire them. It really is quite remarkable. In conclusion The Mambo Kings is a wonderful and sad story of how if it were not for the music in our lives, many would be left with nothing. The foundation of music is in its creation is collaboration, or sharing rather, which comes from loving one another, if one cannot share the love, one is doomed. That is what was destined for the Castillos brother. All they did this in music, they could not do this for each other.