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Monday, July 18, 2011
In August of 2010, I posted about an Italian remake of Scarface that Massimo Emilio Gobbi claimed to already be directing. At the time, Gobbi had yet to cast his female leads, but he had the controversial figure Fabrizio Corona cast in the title role of what he referred to at the time as Scarface 2010. However, by the end of September, Corona had been kicked off the movie, according to Tuttogratis' Valentina Gerig. Gobbi told Gerig that the actor simply took everything too lightly, "as if the set was a joke." Gobbi said that Corona took a full month's vacation, and then wanted to go off to South Africa. "At this rate," Gobbi told Gerig, "in 2013 I finish my film!"

Catania Oggi posted an article today stating that the film, now titled Scarface Evolution, will be shot mostly in Sicily, where Gobbi has just spent the past weekend with his casting crew looking over four hundred people of all ages, male and female, to cast in the film. The article makes mention of one role in particular, that of the protagonist's sister. Gobbi, according to Catania Oggi, said that the sister role requires "a young Mediterranean actress, preferably Sicilian, with a great personality, strong-willed." The older Tuttogratis article mentioned Tony Sperandeo and Vincent Cassel as possible replacements for Corona. In Scarface Evolution, drug trafficking will be replaced by the handling of embryonic cells.

Posted by Geoff at 11:09 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 6:31 PM CDT
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Sunday, May 15, 2011

The above video is from a 1983 segment on The Movie Channel. It features Brian De Palma discussing his latest film, Scarface, and defending himself against accusations that he uses violence in his films for a profit motive. De Palma makes some clear, well thought-out points about his place in a capitalist society in which all of us are involved, by definition, in a profit motive. He explains that his use of violence is simply part of his aesthetic interest as an artist, and it so happens that he creates art within a profit-driven society. In the middle of the video, De Palma discusses Tony Montana's drive to success:

When you set on a trail to become rich and successful, and you look at all the decisions you made, and all the steps on the way up, and you decide, "Well, was that really the right thing to do, or did I do that in order to get from step A to step B?" I mean, this is sort of the subject of Shakespeare, and Paddy Chayefsky, and, you know, Arthur Miller. Now, what are the moral issues here? But the fact that our society celebrates success at any cost makes it a very difficult line to find.

De Palma also says that Al Pacino's performance in Scarface is incredible, and that he was proud to be able to help the actor create such a performance. At the end of the piece, he discusses how amazing it is that most directors one talks to have a total commitment to what they are doing. "They're not in here to play games," De Palma says. "When I talk to my friends, like Scorsese or Spielberg or Lucas or Coppola, these guys are driven. They've been to the top, they've been to the bottom, they've seen it all, and they're still going. Because they have a commitment and belief in what they're doing, they've had some success to see that their visions can in fact be realized, and they're just gonna keep going until they fall down."

Posted by Geoff at 1:37 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, May 15, 2011 1:40 PM CDT
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The above digital short, which was feautured on Saturday Night Live this past weekend, shows the Lonely Island teaming up with Michael Bolton, who dresses up in the video as several movie characters: Jack Sparrow, Forrest Gump, Erin Brockovich, and Tony Montana. Bolton tells Entertainment Weekly's Clark Collis about the ongoing negotiation between himself and the group regarding the language used in the video:

But they were sending me lyrics and I was reading them and I was thinking, “This is funny.” Then I’d get to another line that I really wish I could share with you right now, but I just can’t. I would say, “Nope, I don’ t think I could be intoxicated enough to read this line.” It kept transforming. And they really wanted me to do it. Because they could have just said at any point, “Nah, you’re going to take the funny out of it, you’re going to take the shock value out of it.” Finally, I said “This is great. But can we still take a look at some of this language, because I’m still not comfortable. Scarface is Scarface. He can say pretty much anything. As my own character, I just have a rough time wrapping my head around it.”

Collis later asks Bolton to elaborate about the Scarface parody:

There’s also a scene where, as Tony Montana, you’re surrounded by what I assume is fake cocaine.
I assure you that—aside from the fact that I don’t think any one of us would be around a pile of coke—that they didn’t have it in the budget for that to be anything but some sort of baking powder. But it was pretty funny. And that’s one of my favorite movies. That’s one of my favorite characters Pacino ever brought to life. It was another one where you knew you were going to get hard laughs, especially once my head got dropped into that pile, that mountain of cocaine.

How on earth can you sing along to lines like “Davy Jones!” or “Giant Squid!” while keeping a straight face?
You have to, that’s the whole thing. During the rehearsals, there were times when nobody could keep a straight face. But the whole thing only pays off if you keep a straight face and deliver from a seriously committed place, which was not a problem at all with Jack Sparrow and Scarface. With Erin, I just kind of wanted to get those clothes off and take a shower.

Posted by Geoff at 11:26 PM CDT
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Al Israel, best known for his role as "Hector the Toad" in Brian De Palma's Scarface, died a week ago today at the age of 75. Israel appeared opposite Al Pacino again a decade after Scarface in De Palma's Carlito's Way. Israel also hilariously portrayed a porn movie director in De Palma's Body Double, delivering one of the film's best lines by asking Craig Wasson's Jake Scully if he was some kind of method actor for wanting to know what he was supposed to be "watching" when he says he likes to watch. In 2006, Israel lended his voice to the video game based on Scarface.

Meanwhile, Universal sent out a press release today that Scarface will be released on Blu-Ray September 6th. "For a limited time only," reads the press release, "Scarface Special Limited Edition Blu-ray™ comes with collectible SteelBook™ packaging, ten exclusive art cards, a digital copy of the film and a DVD of the original 1932 Scarface." The package will include most of the same extras as the previous DVD edition of the film, but there will be one new documentary called "The Scarface Phenomenon," which is described as follows:

This all-new documentary presents Scarface as a unique phenomenon in cinema history. It explores how a film plagued by controversy leading up to its release has become a Hollywood classic, influencing a whole new generation of filmmakers and leaving a lasting imprint on popular culture.

There will also be a national fan art contest regarding those ten exclusive art cards:

To celebrate the film's Blu-ray™ debut, fans will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design Scarface-inspired artwork using classic Tony Montana images from the film. Universal will select the Top 25 submissions based on creativity, originality, quality of composition/design and utilization of the Scarface theme. Fans will vote on their favorite 10 submissions which will then be featured as exclusive art cards in the Scarface Limited Edition Blu-ray™. The designer who garners the highest number of fan votes will become the Grand Prize winner, and will have their art featured on both the art card and on a high-profile billboard in a major US city to promote the release.

For more information on the art contest, go to www.facebook.com/scarfacethemovie.

Finally, there will also be a limited edition bonus:

For the ultimate collector and cigar enthusiast, an elegantly hand-crafted Scarface-themed humidor will be made available in an exclusive, never-before-available, limited edition. Created by the renowned Daniel Marshall, the humidor's exterior is hand painted and polished with the Marshall's trademark "1,000 coat brilliant finish." The interior – made with untreated Spanish cedar – will properly condition and age approximately 100 cigars at optimal humidity levels. Limited to 1,000 worldwide, each individually numbered humidor comes embellished with custom medallions inspired by the iconic film and includes a certificate of authenticity.

EMPIRE has a trailer for the upcoming Blu-Ray.

Posted by Geoff at 6:41 PM CDT
Updated: Saturday, March 26, 2011 12:55 AM CDT
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Eli Roth revealed to Love Film that he prided himself on watching Brian De Palma's Scarface 56 times on VHS in his youth. He talks about how he would consider the plight of the man "with the big nose" in the club who dances to Frank Sinatra's Strangers In The Night and gets machine-gunned to death. Roth says he and his friends would stop the tape and deconstruct the back-stories of minor characters. "Think about this poor guy," says Roth about the big-nosed dancer. "He went to work that day, he was just doing his job. He was just trying to entertain, and then these guys came in and just machine-gunned him. And like, what's his wife gonna say, like, was this guy married? And then, like he doesn't come home from work that night. I would sit and obsessively think of the back-story for every minor character in the film."

Posted by Geoff at 8:56 PM CDT
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Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Italian film blogs have been abuzz the past week and a half over rumors that Massimo Emilio Gobbi, who appeared in Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah (which was partly about characters influenced by Brian De Palma's Scarface), is already filming a remake of Scarface. CINEblog.it's Dr. Apocalypse got ahold of Gobbi himself, who confirmed that he has already started shooting the film, and that it stars the controversial paparazzo Fabrizio Corona, a scandalous Italian figure whose Italian Wikipedia page reads like an FBI rap sheet full of counterfeit bills, bankruptcy fraud, allegations of extortion, prison, and an assault on an officer. Corona has more recently appeared on a reality TV show and in a documentary film by Erik Gandini, Videocracy - Basta Apparire. Gobbi tells Dr. Apocalypse, "Corona is simply perfect for the role of Scarface. He's an actor who is undeniably difficult to manage and I think I'm one of the few who can do it."

As for the film itself, Gobbi is referring to it as Scarface 2010 even though he does not plan to have it completed for at least a couple more years. Dr. Apocalypse asks Gobbi about the idea going around that he does not complete films, after having announced at the Venice Film Festival last year that he was making a Mafia film called Kamorrah Days. Gobbi explained that that film's original director indulged in exaggerated costs, after which Gobbi rewrote the script and shot the "experimental" film digitally, finally releasing it on home video. In any case, Gobbi tells Dr. Apocalypse that he wants Scarface 2010 to be a contemporary movie. Gobbi, who is said to have written the screenplay, has been quoted as saying, "Tony Montana in the third millennium will prefer the handling of embryonic cells rather than drug trafficking. The gang will be Italian American and not Cuban." Which, of course, sort of brings the whole thing back around full circle to its origins, but with Al Pacino's Cuban gangster as a huge influence.

When asked about the rumors that Paris Hilton and others are in talks to take on the Elvira role, Gobbi replied, "There are several actresses vying for that role. Brigitta Bulgari, Paris Hilton and Naomi [who-- Naomi Campbell?]. At the moment we have not decided yet." However, since filming has apparently already begun, Dr. Apocalypse wonders how they will fit this character in when the role hasn't even been cast yet. Gobbi replies that with nobody running behind him chasing the money for the film, he has no deadline and "no obligations for the return of capital. If Francis Ford Coppola was unduly with Apocalypse Now, using three years to complete it, I can do it myself... So I can also take two years, the important thing is to be able to finish it."

Posted by Geoff at 5:47 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, August 27, 2010 7:18 AM CDT
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Posted by Geoff at 7:11 PM CDT
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010
While in London to promote his new Hugo Chavez documentary South of the Border, Oliver Stone talked with Total Film and planted the suggestion of a sequel to Scarface, which Brian De Palma directed from Stone's screenplay. "It’s been great to go back with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," Stone told the magazine. He then added, "I should go back and do Son of Scarface or something!" While Stone's comment appears to be off-the-cuff, it could also indicate that he is indeed seriously considering the idea. He could even be throwing the idea out there to see how people react, and to see whether anybody would be interested in financing it. A son of Tony Montana could belong to Elvira, even though her womb is "so polluted," Montana did not believe he could have a kid with her. But a son could also be the offspring of Montana's sister, Gina, and her husband Manny, also Tony's best friend... who Tony, of course, murdered in a blind rage.

Posted by Geoff at 2:48 PM CDT
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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Back when Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds was released last summer, I posted a link to an interview in which Tarantino agreed with Time Out New York's Joshua Rothkopf that there was a Carrie influence in his film's movie theater climax. A reader named Luu commented on my post, suggesting that there were also images in Tarantino's film that brought to mind De Palma's Blow Out and Scarface. John Kenneth Muir, who did an insightful serial survey of De Palma's work on his blog last year, just recently watched Inglourious Basterds for the first time, and discovered some intriguing links to De Palma's Carrie and Scarface:

Some scholars and pundits have suggested that [Inglourious Basterds] is morally facile, a simple revenge picture that makes the American Basterds (Jewish-American soldiers...) as reprehensible as the Nazis they fight in Europe; but that doesn't seem legitimately the case.

Tarantino's focus isn't necessarily on brutal, bloody violence, but on power, and how it feels to be the party without it. The Basterds in the film, as well as a Jewish cinema owner named Shoshanna (Melanie Laurent), exact violent retribution against the Nazis, it is true. But, oddly -- in almost every situation -- it feels not like eye-for-an-eye Draconian violence, but rather an assertion or re-assertion of self, or self-actualization, if that's possible.

This is why, I suspect, the film's fiery final sequence quotes extensively from De Palma's Carrie (1976) and the famous sequence at the Prom. Both movies concern the victimized pushed too far, taking back the power for themselves in an apocalyptic showdown.

Later in his essay, Muir returns to this idea:

Given the importance of movie history and film in Inglorious Basterds, I find it fascinating that the last act in the film quotes so heavily from the work of Brian De Palma.

I mentioned Carrie at the Prom vs. Shoshanna at the Premiere, but it's much more than that too.

Notice, for instance, that the interior of Shoshanna's cinema is colored and designed to resemble the palatial interior of Tony Montana's Miami home in Scarface. There are staircases bracketing both sides of the central hall, with a ledge above -- on the second floor -- and, finally, a room (in the center of the frame...) leading back to a private domain (office or auditorium).

In Scarface, this grand hall is where Tony goes out in a blaze of glory ("Say Hello to My Little Friend..."). In a very real way, that's also Shoshanna's fate.

Both characters also share something else in common: they went from being powerless, to possessing all the power. Only in Tony's case, he misused and abused that power (through a drug haze). By contrast, our sympathies remain with Shoshanna throughout Inglourious Basterds. She is setting things right (and ending the war...), not committing a cocaine-addled suicide.

Why quote De Palma so extensively here? Well, we know that Carrie is in Tarantino's top five favorite film list (at least last time I checked). But the images and compositions that recall De Palma are well picked for reasons of theme and recognition too. Both Carrie at the Prom: the victim taking out the victimizers and Tony's last stand: a staccato suicide by machine gun -- embody an important part of our contemporary pop culture lexicon. Carrie is about the effect that cruelty has on a person, even a good person. And Scarface is about power corrupting, absolutely. Shoshanna may be Carrie; and Hitler may be Tony Montana, in some sense..

Posted by Geoff at 1:02 PM CDT
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Monday, April 5, 2010

A member of the Australian comedy group The Complete First Season has an idea for a Scarface musical that he can't seem to get out of his head-- at least until he saw last week's "Scarface School Play" video. In any case, First Season's Jimmy laid out several of his ideas:

•Tony arrives on a boat from Cuba with his best friend Manny and dreams of making it big (“The World Is Yours”).

•A Sondheim-like conversation-song with the two officers joking around with him (“The Interrogation”).

•The Sunset Motel sequence in interpretive dance (“The Chainsaw Ballet”).

•A Do-Re-Mi style teaching song where Tony tells his lovelorn friend Manny how to impress a girl (“You Get The Money, Then The Power, Then The Women”).

•Frank pleads with Tony not to kill him, and offers him Elvira. Tony refuses. (“Stay Loyal”).

•The good times montage (“Take It To The Limit”, from the original movie) where Tony marries Elvira.

•Tony, out of his mind on cocaine, sings a tormented solo of how he’s betrayed/murdered so many of his friends and family (“Oh Manolo”)

•… which transitions into Tony’s explosion of rage (“My Little Friend”) and a spectacularly choreographed dance piece with explosions and gunfire.

•The finale with Tony and all of his victims rising from the grave, warning the audience about the dangers of having too much ambition and greed (“The World Is Yours (Reprise)”).

•The show ends by exploding talcum powder (i.e. cocaine) over the front row of the audience.

Posted by Geoff at 9:27 PM CDT
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