Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lesson number one: Don't underestimate the other guy's greed!

No 284 - Scarface
Director - Brian de Palma

Well.... before I begin discussing this film, we have to comment on the fact that Brian de Palma made the most brilliantly bad film in existence. And for that very reason we must be eternally grateful.

So now we move into surprisingly political territories, but I don't think it really is that much grittier. Or... if it is.... it is offset by the sheer 80's ridiculousness of it all - you can see how it inspired Vice City - all the bad suits and wide collar shirts and mindless excessive violence. It is the excess which is then mocked in films like American Psycho. What a cracking decade it was back then...

This film is probably the best I've seen Pacino, his Tony Montana is a terrifying creation - he is a slurring power crazed madman. His quest for power and money - his belief that only this could ever make him happy - is terrible to watch but nowhere near as scary as the paranoia which seeps in once he HAS the power.
Montana seems happiest on the way up... running errands and double crossing people to get what he wants. However, once he has everything he wants he becomes paranoid. Probably because he knows he was a double crossing sunnovabitch when he was on the way up. But he lives in his ridiculous palace with his too-skinny-Michelle-Pfeiffer wife and he grumbles and worries and strops about with his upside down looking mouth.
hmmm - maybe his mouth looks SCARIER when upside down

Montana's rise and fall is fun and does make the film feel very GTA but it isn't the most interesting part of the film. For me, what was more interesting was how he behaved with his family. How he clamoured for the respect of his mother and how he introduces his kid sister to the world of '80s excess and then spends most of the film trying to go back on it and protect her. The scenes with Gina - and particularly her secret romance with Montana's henchman - are probably the most moving in the film, and best show the emotional state Tony is in.

Overall - this is a film about excess and greed. It gets to insane levels involving mountains of coke and pet tigers (and who DOESN'T want a pet tiger?!) - whilst, in that regard, it has dated and is very much a period piece - a snapshot of the 80's - it remains relevant as a warning about greed and as a terrific performance from Pacino.