Scarface (1983) Directed by Brian De Palma

To be honest, I don't really have a clear idea of what has gone on with Cuba and the USA, but even though Scarface pretends to be political for its first five minutes don't be fooled. Hollywood doesn't care either, Cuba is just the backdrop for their favorite subject: cocaine.

Throughout this excruciatingly long rerun of Al Pacino's version number#100 of Richard III, I cannot shake my personal annoyance at the idealization of cocaine by the film and by people in general. I have the sense that the crew making this film were so high all the time that there is a glittering white dust of cold distance between me and the story. I'm sorry friends, cocaine trade is evil.

Scarface is essentially a movie about idiots in varying degrees. Usually we can learn something from watching these cruel, maniac psychokillers but in De Palma's direction there is no soft underbelly to the shining shield. There is just emptiness. In some Foucauldian sense this might be a genius revelation in the 1980's movie making, but I refuse to develop that thought.

The ending of the movie is an insult. Was I really not watching Rambo?
One good thing though: Steven Bauer as Manny. He epitomized the film: hunky but vacuous.


I was born with a birthmark above my lip.  When I was a child this caused some ridicule at school (kids can be so cruel).  But as I've got older, the birthmark has come to distinguish me from anyone else. I think people recognize me instantly. It's a sign of my difference. I've grown to respect my birthmark.  As I've got older, the birthmark has got bigger. I should have it removed. But will I lose my sense of identity?

Scarface, otherwise known as Tony Montana,  is played by Al Pacino. His scar only gets referred to a couple of times in the whole movie, but it is the sign by which others recognize him. It's his individual stamp. Scarface is Brian De Palma's over the top look at the 1980 Miami drug scene. De Palma's film follows Montana's rise and fall from Cuban immigrant street thug to cocaine snorting drug lord. There is no subtlety here. The script by Oliver Stone is crude and De Palma's direction shows little inventiveness. Set design, costume and Miami itself give the film what is now an iconic look. Giorgio Moroder supplies the cheesy disco score.

But Scarface is ultimately a winner because of Pacino. Yes, this is Pacino in cliched shouty mode. But his Montana is a monster filled with great abusive one liners, intentionally or not, Scarface is very funny. The bathroom scene and the  restaurant scene show Pacino deconstruct his earlier Michael Corleone gangster character from The Godfather with great humor. The ending, showing a coked-up Montana taking a hail of bullets has become iconic.  I think Astrid really hated this picture. I enjoyed this film lots, it's heaps of fun. It's the bling reference book. Just don't call me Scarface!


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