the fresh films reviews

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Scarface (1983)

Brian De Palma




170 minutes

Martin Bregman

Oliver Stone

Cast includes:

Tony Montana Al Pacino
Manny Ray Steven Bauer
Elvira Michelle Pfeiffer
Gina Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Frank Lopez Robert Loggia
Mama Montana Miriam Colon
Omar F. Murray Abraham
Alejandro Sosa Paul Shenar
Bernstein Harris Yulin
Chi Chi Angel Salazar -
Ernie Arnaldo Santana -
Angel Pepe Serna -
Nick the Pig Michael P. Moran -
Hector the Toad Al Israel -
Banker Dennis Holahan -
Shadow Mark Margolis
Seidelbaum Ted Beniades -



There's a lot of good movie-making in this daunting 1983 epic if you disregard the despicable, unhumorous, miscast and overplayed title character. Directed by Brian De Palma (fresh from Blow Out) and written by up-and-coming screenwriter Oliver Stone, the film is a revival and modernization of the homonymous Howard Hawks film from 1932, only here the title character is updated from a bootlegger to a drug lord and moved from the Italian-American community of Chicago to the community of Cuban immigrants in contemporary Miami. This shift is obviously done to give the story a surge of relevance and immediacy, which largely succeeds, especially within the film's valid but underdiscussed political context. The film's framework is solid, but we're never given a reason to feel anything for the Tony Montana character. He's an immoral moralist, which must be the least fun combo, and he's also incapable of enjoying himself, which means we're also unable to enjoy his antics, even when things go well for him. Part of the problem is that Pacino is not believable as a Cuban; he cannot connect convincingly to the character's Cuban background, and so his performance remains mimicry and posing. Only in a few scenes in which he is drunk/stoned and apathetic does he strike a real nerve. He is easily outshone by a fine performance by Robert Loggia as Tony's boss and the wonderful buddy character created by Steven Bauer. Granted, De Palma does create some tight, chilling action sequences in here, notably an early drug deal scene and a segment from New York City. But the overchoreographed and emblematic finale is not among them, despite its fame. With F. Murray Abraham, Paul Shenar and Mark Margolis in interesting bit parts. The score by Giorgio Moroder is a little bit disappointing, although the intro theme is brilliant.

Copyright 13.04.2021 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang