The Mambo Kings

Arne Glimcher (US, 1992, 104 min.)

Brothers Cesar (Armand Assante) and Nestor Castillo (Antonio Banderas) leave Cuba for the United States to pursue their musical careers. Working in a meat-cutting plant by day and playing in the clubs by night, they work theur way up the ladder and get entangled with cigarette girls along the way.

As Nestor broods over the love left behind in Cuba, Cesar takes him into a photo booth to cheer him up and convince him they're doing the right thing. Nestor doesn't go along, and instead uses the opportunity to question Cesar's honesty. The scene is actually quite lengthy, and covers two rounds of photo booth pictures, as the flash goes off and catches Nestor making unflattering, unhappy faces. The sequence ends with the only "photo booth strip as editing device" I know of in cinema; the strips Nestor and Cesar have taken slide from top to bottom of the screen from left to right, forming a sort of cascading grid of images of the brothers to close out the scene.

Later, after Nestor has died, Cesar returns to the photo booth and delivers a direct-address monologue, mourning his brother's death. The room is now empty and dark, a far cry from the busy, bright scene we saw when they first visited.

Thanks to Dan for the tip on this appearance, to Allan for the video capture card, and to Hollywood Express for still renting videotapes.

Contributed by Brian

Nestor and Cesar are already in the photo booth when the scene begins.
Cesar tries to get Nestor to smile.
Insert twenty-five cents - those were the days.
The flashes go off, but Nestor is still under duress.
Nestor takes Cesar to task.
That's a keeper.
Nestor rushes out, and the image turns to black and white, imitating the image the photo booth will produce.
Cue sliding photo strip montage as editing device.
Nestor looks like he's smiling for maybe one out of thirty of these.
I wonder if they saved any of these?
Cut to the end of the film. Nestor is dead, and Cesar returns to the photo booth for some self-punishment.
The flash goes off, but the arcade is empty.
Inside the booth, Nestor is reading.
Nestor puts another quarter in.
A half-laughing, half-crying face that just looks goofy in a still.
Fade to black (and white) and the sequence ends. My question now is "Where did Armand Assante go?"