In Magic City Memoirs, Mikey, Manny, and Angel Jr. are three private school buddies. Three months before graduation, they are living the fast life of sex, drugs, and hip-hop in Miami. The story is narrated by Mikey, who is a top baseball prospect torn between living clean and joining his friends in the fast lane. Angel has a troubled relationship with his father, the mayor of Coral Gables, and Manny is the son of a convicted drug dealer. The three boys breeze through life as they try to figure out what lies in their future.
Memoirs is director Aaron J. Salgado's love letter to Miami. Salgado's
aerial shots of Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline, as well as shots of
Coral Gables during sunset, bring out the area's lush and romantic
colors. Miami has never looked so effervescent on film. Salgado and
cinematographer Gustavo Penna prove they have an eye for what makes
Miami such a subtropical paradise.
Taking a page from films such as The Basketball Diaries, Memoirs is
fast-paced. Its young, rudderless characters live disaffected, listless,
drug-addled lives. The film takes several dramatic albeit clichéd
turns, and the acting is mostly uneven; the strongest performances come
from Michael Cardelle as Angel Jr. and veteran character actor Julio
Oscar Mechoso as Mikey's father.
Though the film could be chalked up to lessons in youthful consequences,
you are left feeling underwhelmed. Little sympathy can be garnered for
the boys when they eventually reap what they sow, mainly because they
come across as privileged and arrogant. Not until a jarring incident at
the film's climax do you feel something for the characters. But Magic
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City Memoirs is a decent film and should be seen for its radiant
depiction of the city.
March 11 at 6:45 p.m., Gusman Center for the Performing Arts (174 E. Flagler St., Miami; 305-372-0925; gusmancenter.org).