September 23, 2003


The Bad Guy Returns
I don't think I fully appreciated the phenomenon that is the 1983 remake of Scarface, written by Oliver Stone and directed by Brian DePalma, until I went to see it on the big screen.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the film's release, so Universal & Focus Features is releasing a special edition DVD and a digitally remastered 35 mm print of the film in select theatres around the country. Here in L.A., it's playing for a few more days as the late show at the Cinerama Dome (imagine sitting inside a golf-ball the size of a small stadium, with a curved, three pane movie screen) at Arclight Cinemas.

Now, I've seen the movie before, and I love it, but I hadn't seen it with a crowd before. Last Saturday night, waiting in this sea of predominantly Latino teenagers & Gen-Xers, where an usher only allowed a handful of people into the theatre at the time, where LOTS of these kids wore Scarface T-shirts (mind you, most of them where only a couple of years older than the movie itself), I really felt like I was going to an Al Pacino rock concert. It was surreal.

I overheard one guy say to his girlfriend, "Aww, see! I knew I should have worn my Scarface shirt. Or at least the black one."

"At least the black one."

Everytime I see a show like Cribs go behind the scenes in the home of some rapper or Black pro athlete, the ALL have at least one picture of Tony Montana on the wall.

But, underneath the drugs and the violence and the rediculous financial excess of the film, there is a fundamental statement about the American dream, and it's deeply cynical.

Or, to quote Scarface himself, after he's finally acquired the outrageous wealth that he craves:

"Is this all there is? Eating? Drinking? Fucking? Sucking? Your 50. You got a bag for a belly. You got tits, that need a bra, they got hair on 'em. You got a liver, with spots all over it, and your eatin' dis fuckin' shit and lookin' like these fuckin' rich mummies...."

Something Tony never understood until the very end: Money does not necessarily guarantee you power. Observe Microsoft.

Anyway, this NY Times article touches a little bit on the pervasiveness of this film in hip-hop culture, which has it's own problems with capitalist excess.

Personally, I just wanted an excuse to put a picture of Tony Montana up on my blog. Guilty as charged.
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