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Scarface (1983)

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"Scarface" developed a cult following among younger audiences, notably hip-hop stars and college students, and it is already an underground classic. A remastered print was released over the weekend in 10 cities, including New York and Los Angeles. More significant, on Sept. 30 Universal Studios Home Video will release the film on DVD with a documentary ("Def Jam Presents: Origins of a Hip-Hop Classic") that includes interviews with Sean Combs, Snoop Dog, Eve and the rapper Scarface. They talk about the relevance of the film to their lives.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/23/movies/2.../23SCAR.html?th

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That is really interesting. I probably saw that a hundred times as a kid and never even was aware of the connections the film had to the hip-hop world. Can't they pick another film to riff off of?

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Could this be evidence of how movie violence affects people?

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Well, the hip hop kids also love The Warriors, the old Walter Hill movie. It's probably second to Scarface in terms of influence, barring actual hip hop movies like Krush Groove (but probably not Disorderlies*). I actually like Scarface a lot; over the top Pacino and DePalma can't be beat, not to mention one of the most profanely quotable movies ever.

*1987 film starring rap trio The Fat Boys.

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My secret shame (one of many): I've never seen Scarface. :oops:

Looking forward to this DVD.

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I picked up the DVD this past week. The documentary is actually the same as the one from the original DVD release. So the only new extra is the Hip-Hop documentary which is not worth watching. But it was worth picking up just to see a remastered print. The original DVD had worse picture quality than the old VHS dub copy I had in high school.

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Over the weekend I saw Scarface for the first time, and it blew my mind. It wasn't even the New new (2006) DVD -- I think it was the one from this thread. I can't believe there's no dedicated Scarface thread at A&F, but then again, I don't have much to say about it other than "Let me introduce you to my little friend," which is how I opened the Sunday morning service. Not. But I wanted to and made it known. :)

It certainly is not a celebration of the drug lifestyle, is it?

There's information on the net that Oliver Stone wrote the film when he was addicted to cocaine. Any truth to that?

I've seen it and have been thoroughly mesmerized by it -- in fact I started it way late thinking I'd fall asleep but ended up staying awake until after 2 am -- but I don't think I'll watch it again for years. It was just a little bit too violent to revisit. And besides, who wants to spoil love at first sight?

-s.

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Time magazine has done a fairly in-depth review of Scarface Nation, a new book by Ken Tucker about the enormous cultural influence that Scarface has had over the years.

I am not sure how good the book is, because I have not read it, and probably won't (at least until college is over; too much other stuff to read). But in a weird way I always thought that Scarface's massive following and its status as a cultural touchstone merit some kind of research/commentary.

I see that the film isn't oft-discussed on here. My two cents (beware of :spoilers: throughout) : it's a brilliant crime opus, and probably Brian De Palma's best film (and, for that matter, Oliver Stone's best film as well, if you consider it "his" film by virtue of his screenwriter credit). It's got a lot of raw moral power too, despite the R-rated content (more on that later). The gist of the story is that it chronicles a man's descent into hell, how greed and lust and a desire for power lead to a self-destructive downward spiral. Much is made of how Tony Montana lives the "American dream", but it's a perverse, hollow version of it. And though all gangster films live in the shadow of a certain film about the mafia, I don't really get a Godfather vibe from Scarface. Coppola's characters were more developed, believable, and complex, whereas De Palma's Tony Montana is more of a monster. There are humanizing touches, but Montana isn't Michael Corleone by a long shot (I guess he is, in a way, since both are Al Pacino; but you know what I mean :) ). The differences in setting, tone, pacing, and writing are fairly huge as well.

Slowly but surely, we watch Tony Montana slide into his own personal hell. Most people would say the climax of the film is the "say-hello-to-my-little-friend" scene. I disagree. For me, the climax is when a disgusted Tony, sitting at a dinner table set with luxurious food, next to a beautiful woman who has sex with him yet does not love him, with so much money that he could never begin to spend it, realizes that none of these things satisfy him. The ending shootout is surely intense and climactic, but the earlier scene sees Tony at his lowest.

More on the film's moral content...like many crime films, I believe that Scarface functions as a strong cautionary tale about greed, hunger for power, violence, and drugs. It shows how naked ambition can be self-destructive, and how ambition without morals leads to disaster.

Also, like many other crime films, I believe that the gruesomeness of the presentation is often what people walk away from the film with, while at the same time they leave the meaning squarely on the screen. Believe me when I say that no other film inspires college guys with its blood, gore, sex, and criminal glamor like Scarface. The Departed, American Gangster, and Goodfellas are also usually hijacked as glamorous entertainment by younger viewers, but Scarface takes the cake.

It's not just me. The advertisers are surely in on it. There are TONS of different Scarface products available. Posters, mugs, key chains, screen savers, bath towels, CDs, video games, T-shirts, you name it. There is an entire online store for this stuff. I can only speak qualitatively, but in dorm rooms these days I see TONS of this stuff. This bloody, 80s' gangster movie is on everybody's mind.

The movie is a HUGE rallying cry for rappers (so is American Gangster; Jay-Z recorded a whole album with an American Gangster theme). I find it interesting how they all cheer the lifestyle Tony leads and try to emulate it themselves, whilst ignoring the tragic, despairing, blood-soaked way that it ends.

What do you guys have to say on the matter? I feel like this film isn't discussed enough on A&F (the last post on here was two years ago). I only ever get to discuss it with the kind of people who think all the gritty content is "cool", so I am thirsty for some insights from ya'll. :)

Edited by Jeff

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Slowly but surely, we watch Tony Montana slide into his own personal hell. Most people would say the climax of the film is the "say-hello-to-my-little-friend" scene. I disagree. For me, the climax is when a disgusted Tony, sitting at a dinner table set with luxurious food, next to a beautiful woman who has sex with him yet does not love him, with so much money that he could never begin to spend it, realizes that none of these things satisfy him. The ending shootout is surely intense and climactic, but the earlier scene sees Tony at his lowest.

I think your observations are right on here. The scenes that stick out to me now are the drunken "Say goodnight to the bad guy!" scene in the restaurant and Tony sitting alone in the hot tub when Michelle Pfiefer leaves the room. Depalma deliberately has the camera back in a wide shot to show us how isolated and empty Tony's life has become.

As for the violence, people always talk about the chain saw scene. But Depalma leaves it all to our imagination. What we actually see is the chainsaw buzzing, the victim's eyes, and then he moves the camera away before we actually see anything. We see Tony being sprayed with blood but the actual violence is happening off screen. Tarantino used the same technique in the ear cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs.

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Just watched this for the first time ever. Well, I saw part of it on TV, but it was like, "Cockaroach (BLEEP) cockaroacha (BLEEP)" and it didn't make much sense. But so now I've seen it. This and Goodfellas in the same week. I feel like I need to go rob a bank or break somebody's kneecaps or something. Or watch Babe again.

I think this at the very least is a great example of ratings drift. This was given an X rating originally? For what? Gratuitious ketchupry? Didn't the Friday the 13th movies come out the same year? And they were far more graphically gory than this one. Anyway, I'll have to go read the article linked above--I'm curious as to the urban connection--its huge, but why?

Edited by Buckeye Jones

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Please tell me that's not real. I can't imagine a parent on earth... How old are those kids? What the fudge?!

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Persona wrote:

: Please tell me that's not real. I can't imagine a parent on earth... How old are those kids? What the fudge?!

Well, it's certainly real in the sense that SOME parents, SOMEwhere, got their kids to do this in front of a camera etc. But apart from that ... your wish is my command.

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Whew!

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Yeah, whew.

A friend of mine in L.A. writes:

It is, actually, a hoax. (I hate for the school system to take an undeserved hit...and people have already tracked down the town of the woman who posted the video through her screen name and are calling their elementary school like crazy. For the record - it's a small town outside Chicago, and they didn't do it, and the only play on their schedule this year is Anne Frank - for the high school.)

BUT - you're right. It's sickening on its own merits.

It was filmed in LA (thank you very much - and sorry, everyone) by a director who has worked with Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert. Don't know what he's thinking here, or how he got around the fairly strict CA child labor laws. A report here today says that the pint-sized actors were procured from a local talent agency that specializes in 'child look-alikes for porn stars'. Just when I thought I couldn't think of a more sick and twisted idea than what's already in the video...

... I feel the teeniest bit better to know that this is a pathetic grab for 15 minutes of fame from the seediest people in our business (and BTW, most of the folks I know here are outraged) rather than something that a school system or parents would find acceptable. But it's still just a hair above human trafficking to me.

Isn't it a huge relief to learn that the story behind this video is actually worse than it looked?!

Whew!

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: . . . a local talent agency that specializes in 'child look-alikes for porn stars'.

:blink:

Well, I guess even porn films can have prologues and flashbacks and whatnot. But still.

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