Monday, October 3, 2011
Many movies about gangsters are always great. Look at The Godfather, its sequel, Goodfellas, American Gangster and that movie I can't remember its name but it's about Al Capone. They're all great movies that has a certain character you would wanted to be in real life and admire them for that even though all they do is kill people, rips them off their money from hefty operations of drugs and gambling and the betrayals they make within their circle. Scarface proves an exception to that genre.
At my old school, this is considered the greatest movie ever made even though they watch too many movies that I think are shit. That thought had some very valid reasons because of the characterisation of Al Pacino's character Tony Montana, the ambitious story and its direction from Brian DePalma. But after watching this, I felt that there was nothing special about this film. And yes, I would love to use the word 'overrated' to describe this movie, but I can't.
Scarface chronicles Monatana's rise and fall in Miami's cocaine empire. In 1980, he comes to America away from the revolution of Cuba in search of the American Dream. He and his best friend Manny (Steven Bauer) gets green cards from the wealthy drug dealer Frank Lopez and does jobs for him, particularly delivering cocaine from Bolivian kingpin Frank Sosa. While he is shunned by his mother for his life of crime, he takes whatever it is to look after his younger sister Gina, and takes an interest with Frank's spouse, Elvira (Michelle Pfiffer). But for Montana he's vying for power and as he does he experiences self destruction.
Scarface is the remake of the 1939 original by Howard Hawks and its based on the goal of living the American Dream. For Tony, it takes money to have all the power and the women in America. And that's that because for us, he is not really that iconic as people says he is in movie history. For one thing he is really unlikeable and there is nothing to admire about him. And to do so, to give some respect to a character with the biggest flaws, it needs all of these aspects: a good performance from the actor playing him, and a sparkling screenplay. Tony Montana has none of that. Al Pacino puts up with him ingeniously with a well-spoken Cuban accent but is let down by a screenplay by Oliver Stone who subjects him with very convoluted dialogue that all of the characters are also facing. Tony Montana is rather a one and a half dimensional than multi faceted.
The rest of the cast is a mixed bag. Steven Bauer plays the only likeable character in the film and he's actually that good being that likeable character while Michelle Pfiffer who is Elvira, felt so cold and bored during the set and only contributes to whining and bitching about Tony's lifestyle. As I said above they would've been lifted by the screenplay that is very weak and I didn't forget that as this is written by Oliver Stone, he's known for being misogynistic in either script or direction by making Elvira, Gina's sister or any female character unlikeable with nothing else to do or objectifying them by making them pose.
But Scarface is well-directed by Brian De Palma who adds some iconic moments and imagery into a plot structured as a Greek Tragedy and that involves the notorious graphic violence with one scene featuring someone chopped off by a chainsaw which by the way is very awesome. The final ten minutes had kept me going for this movie but what this should have been is a character study of someone great and their rise and fall ending what is part of 167 minutes that is overlong.
Movies like Raging Bull and The Social Network were all great films with characters we should never care about but at least it had aspects that it subtle. Scarface doesn't and yet it ain't that great and it feels like a B version of The Godfather where it just overstays its welcome