"DEFINITIVE" '80S MOVIE HAS "ALL ITS DIALS TWISTED UP TO 11"
A digital version of Brian De Palma's Scarface was released in U.K. cinemas this weekend. A couple of U.K. critics had some interesting takes on the rerelease, with one suggesting that Scarface is the "definitive" film of the '80s, while the other finds tongue-in-cheek relevence to the current political atmosphere.
The Guardian's John Patterson
It's not the best film of the decade (that might be Raging Bull) or the most influential (except among gangsta rappers), or the most elegantly crafted (good god, no), but somehow Scarface manages, both intentionally and utterly accidentally, to capture the 1980s' atmosphere of unflagging greed, moral emptiness and materialistic crassness to a tee. It's as irreducibly 80s as Reagan's black plastic hairdo, Madonna's bustier and the Jane Fonda Workout.
Scarface is a movie with all its dials twisted up to 11. No one does lines of cocaine (a loathsome drug for a loathsome era), they do piles of cocaine; chainsaws are brandished, not switchblades; the vague, censor-baiting hints at Borgia-syle incest in the original morph here into Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio screaming at her brother, "Ya wanna fuck me, huh, Tony? Huh?"
But Tony is a fully-fledged 1980s-style unzipped capitalist go-getter, worthy of admiration given the Friedman-fundamentalist economic fumes wafting through the zeitgeist back then; he's a Horatio Alger hero with a hole through his septum, he's Arkan in the making.
All of which makes this brilliant, cold-blooded masterpiece rather a strange proposition at a time when President Obama is opening up relations with the seemingly progressive sibling Raúl Castro. Myth has it that during his time as 46th Vice President of the United States in the Bush era, Dick Cheney liked to spend his downtime staring at a corporately revised map of Cuba which showed which US conglomerate would go where come the day that the US colonise the Caribbean island again. Could it be that Universal has been promised a spec there? A little place in the sun to wait out another Depression? Where multimillion-dollar mergers can be brokered by Skype and movies can be made for a tenth of the price? Could the re-release of Scarface be the beginning of their chainsaw wielding march on Cuba? Either way it’s great to see you again Tony.