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Remembering “The Last Resort”

 

 

 

Review by John Delia

It’s rare I would ever find a documentary released in theaters about South Florida where I grew up, but The Last Resort does give me a lot of remembrances from the past. Nostalgia in movies isn’t for everyone, but if you have ever visited South Beach, this one should prompt you to take this unusual trip. Although a lot has changed, there’s still many hotels on the strip with remnants of the past. Now in theaters for the first time, check it out.

Through the magic of found film, archived news reports, TV filming, but especially the collection of filmmaker Kelly Reichardt and Photographers Gary Monroe and Andrew Sweet make it possible to go back in time. The film features the first residents of South Beach that were predominantly Jewish. Most of them retirees, they spent the days basking in the sun and testing out the surf day to day. The hotels were inviting, but most with ordinary plumbing of the times and decorated with sea and sand ornamentations. But that was more than what the people had during the Wars in Europe and their early settlement in other parts of the USA.

Photo by Andrew “Andy Sweet”

It’s a story of religious freedom, reverence and yet delight with camaraderie at gatherings. But, it became more of a dimming of their final years. With an unexpected change in 1980 the people of Miami Beach were invaded by the Cuba’s Mariel boat lifts. The tranquility of their “homes” were now a matter of concern, uncertainty and distress. With crime rates rising astronomically, the cocaine wars in progress and riots surrounding the McDuffie killing, at their age the people of Miami Beach were terrified.

Photo by Gary Monroe

The film shows it all from the camera’s eye as well as interviews of the descendants from those who took a chance to finally live without a care. Featuring appearances by Gary Monroe, Ellen Sweet Moss, Susan Gladstone, Mitchell Kaplan, Edna Buchanan, Kelly Reichardt, Denise Bibro and Stan Hughes. My comment, “thank God for Art Deco that saved Miami Beach, but at what price?”

The documentary The Last Resort has not been rated, but beyond the visual actuality of the times it may be inappropriate for immature youngsters.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A history of one of the most desirable vacation spots in the world. (4 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Directed and written by: Dennis Scholl and Kareem Tabsch
Genre: Documentary, Art
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 1 hr. 10 min.
Opening Date: February 15, 2019
Released in: Standard

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