Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cinema Talk - Scarface (1983)


Directed By: Brian De Palma

Written By: Oliver Stone

Armitage Trail (novel) uncredited

Howard Hawks (1932 screenplay) uncredited

Starring: Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia

Tony Montana appears to be crude, raw and unforgiving from the time he appears in the film. You assume, may be he will sober down with money and power, and mature like Robert De Niro in his endless Martin Scorcese blockbusters. But till the last bullet he receives, Tony remains how he starts - a dirt filled with cocaine and you feel no pity for him. He marries Frank's icy mistress Elvira ( Michelle Pfeiffer), you feel may be she will change him into a more responsible probable father, fathering a legacy of respectable gangster. But the world depicted by Brian De Palma is like a the cuban immigrants make shift home under the bridge. Disorder, Ruthlessness and Bad mouthed character are the trademarks of all the characters that appear in the film.

As most critic argue about the film, Tony's relationship with his mother and his sister (in her bizarre hairstyle) was hardly touched upon and you are left with something incomplete. Al Panino gives a stellar performance, his accent and body language and his lines “This town’s like a great big pussy just waiting to get fucked!”, “Say hello my little friend!”

The first taste of violence is hitting with the chainsaw scene, the miami beach peace is shattered with automatic guns and pierced bodies. From Cocaine to organised terrorist attack, Tony does it all, and does it in bulk. The amount of cocaine he sniffs in the film would cost every narcotics officer his job. Scarface is long and linear, the narrative is predictable and by the time we reach the crescendo, Tony is neck deep in cocaine shit. Tony's histrionics comes to the top at the last scene of the film. A bullet shredded body and the way, his palace is compeletely shattered reminds again of the stereotypical end of a gangster. He remains defaint and unrepenting till the end, halfway realising his mistakes over the dead body of his sister.

It is evident that Brian De Palma loves stylizing his film from the way the film starts with the documentary footage to straight to the introduction of Tony, says a lot about how the film is going to turn out. "This city is waiting to be fucked", Tony keeps saying to his friend in the beginning of the film.

A scarce performace, a film way ahead of its time, and that raw violence seems so simple to create, but without a star performance, no director can create such magic without Al Pacina.
A gangster film in its true essense. Watch it.
Rating: 7/10

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