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try and set a new
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people haven't seen
for a while."

Sean Penn to
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as raging comic
in The Comedian

Scarlett to make
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debut with
Capote story

Keith Gordon
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thriller that
he will write
and direct

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Said Ben Said

-De Palma to team
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Sunday, March 30, 2014
In Shirley Halperin's cover story for this week's Hollywood Reporter, rapper Pitbull discusses how Scarface influenced him in his teenage years. The message he took away from the film seems unique in the hip-hop milieu. Here's an excerpt from the article:

The Pitbull epic began when his mother, Alysha Acosta, arrived in Florida from Cuba during the early 1960s as part of Operation Pedro Pan (or Peter Pan), Miami's Catholic Welfare Bureau's two-year effort to get youth out of communist Cuba. His father also came over seeking asylum, settling in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood. Their son Armando was born in 1981, a year in which drug-ravaged Miami recorded 621 homicides and was eulogized in a Time cover story, "Paradise Lost." This was the cocaine cowboy era captured in movies like Scarface.

Pit's father and namesake, known in the neighborhood as a charismatic street hustler, often would take his son to the local bars, where the boy would first perform for an audience, reciting Cuban poetry from a bar stool as his father looked on proudly. Pit's parents divorced in 1985.

Bring up the Brian De Palma classic -- not universally beloved in Miami for the cultural stereotypes it spawned -- and Pitbull takes no umbrage. "We all have Scarfaces in our family," he says matter-of-factly. "[The movie] is the truth. It wasn't exaggerated. Scorsese, Oliver Stone, De Palma -- those guys were right on the money." Pitbull says he's seen it too many times to count and that a serious message sunk in: that he didn't want to end up like the protagonist Tony Montana. Rather, says Pit: "I wanted to be Sosa -- educated, good-looking, a good dresser, and he's the one who was running it. And notice, he never got his hands dirty. He sipped his tea. He was nice, not aggressive. And at the end of it all, he was the one that stayed. So I realized around 18 that Tony's the wrong guy to be looking up to."

What Pitbull learned from his immediate surroundings, besides how to sell drugs, which he did for a while, was the skill of connecting with people. That's his most powerful gift -- winning loyalty of everyone he encounters, from strangers on the street to dealmakers in a boardroom. He does this, in part, with a relentlessly upbeat attitude. Pitbull explains his six-year rise to the top in the exuberant idiom of a motivational speaker: "2009 is freedom; 2010, invasion; 2011, build empire; 2012, grow wealth; 2013, put the puzzle together; 2014, buckle up; 2015, make history." It's a mantra he shares with manager Charles Chavez, who says his goal is for Pitbull to become a billion-dollar enterprise. "We have a plan -- with the music, TV projects [Pit boasts a development deal with Endemol, producer of Big Brother], films [he's teamed up with Ryan Seacrest for a TV miniseries on the Bacardi family], his businesses, the brands that we get involved with," says Chavez. "You never know, but it's the plan."

Pitbull is more confident, even willing to time-stamp the future threshold. "Do I think it's realistic to be a billion-dollar company by [age] 35? Absolutely."


Posted by Geoff at 6:52 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, March 30, 2014 6:57 PM CDT
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Rick Ross, whose love for Brian De Palma's Scarface is well known, released his latest album, Mastermind, earlier this month. Here are a couple of review clips:

Christopher R. Weingarten, Rolling Stone
"Reflective, a little nervous, full of references to feds intervening, Mastermind plays like the first Ross album that's actually seen the last act of Scarface.

Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times
"Perhaps Rick Ross simply took his drug-lord act as far as it could go with 2012's God Forgives, I Don't, in which the portly Miami rapper somehow made a seizure he'd suffered on a private jet sound like the mark of a true player. But for the first time in a career that's gotten only more interesting since his background as a corrections officer was revealed, Ross has run out of imaginative ways to describe his power on his latest.

"'Before the crib you gotta clear the guard's gate,' he brags of his home in 'Rich Is Gangsta,' 'Elevators like Frank's on Scarface.' Snooze."

Posted by Geoff at 11:55 PM CDT
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Monday, March 24, 2014

The Scarface remake just got a lot more interesting. The Wrap's Jeff Sneider reports that Chilean director Pablo Larraín is in negotiations to direct Universal's remake of Scarface. Larraín's first film, Tony Manero (pictured above), has a violent main character, who looks like a middle-aged Al Pacino, obsessed with John Travolta's character in Saturday Night Fever.

Taking place in 1978, at the height of Travolta/disco mania, the character works as "a metaphor for the amorality and viciousness of the Pinochet regime," as the New York Times' Larry Rohter describes in a 2009 article about the film and its makers. Alfredo Castro, the actor who plays the Manera-obsessed Raúl Peralta, told Rohter that the character is "a social outsider, perfectly capable of appropriating the opportunity to kill with impunity. He lacks moral judgment, and his logic is demented, archaic, that of: ‘If the state is killing hundreds, why can’t I?’”

Rohter's article continues:


Released in Chile in 2008, Tony Manero was first shown in the United States at the New York Film Festival last fall. The festival’s program director, Richard Peña, said the film appealed to him because of its ability to convey “the feeling, the texture and tactile sense of life during that time” and its complicated and nuanced view of American pop culture.

Saturday Night Fever becomes a strange double-edged sword,” Mr. Peña said. “On the one hand it is free and easy and democratic and represents freedom and masculine flamboyance. But it also comes from America, which is seen as being at the root of the problem, behind the overthrow of Allende and the installation of Pinochet.”

In addition Mr. Castro’s character looks a lot like Al Pacino, as critics were quick to note after Tony Manero was shown at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. Mr. Castro and Mr. Larraín said they were amused by the comments that similarity has provoked, which they believe underline and amplify their theme of cultural domination. “The interesting thing is that here you have a Chilean actor who tries to look like John Travolta and ends up being said to look like Al Pacino,” Mr. Larraín said. “He’s never Alfredo Castro. He’s always somebody else, and what he does in the film is exactly that too.”

Mr. Castro added: “It’s like I’ve been erased, and there is something symbolic about that.”


In October of 2012, Deadline's Mike Fleming reported that Universal had hired Donnie Brasco screenwriter Paul Attanasio to rewrite David Ayers' original draft of the Scarface remake. In December of 2012, Latino Review's El Mayimbe claimed to have discovered, via unnamed sources, that the new Tony (not Montana, nor Manero) "is actually Mexican and the remake takes place in the world of drug cartels."

Now The Wrap reports that the new Scarface "will reimagine the core immigrant story told in both the 1932 and 1983 films. Universal's update will be an original story set in modern day Los Angeles that follows a Mexican immigrant's rise in the criminal underworld as he strives for the American Dream." The Wrap also states that the current draft of the screenplay is by Attanasio.

Sneider writes, "The filmmakers plan to cast an authentic Latino who is bilingual and bicultural as the lead character, whose name will be Tony, though his last name won't be Camonte (1932) or Montana (1983). While Oscar Isaac, Edgar Ramirez and Michael Pena rank among Hollywood's top Latino stars who are age-appropriate for the role, the producers are also open to casting a complete unknown in the name of authenticity." Sneider adds that "the new Scarface will be a more mythic origin story that explores where Tony's physical and emotional wounds come from and how they shaped him as a man.

"Larraín won the coveted job with his commanding and passionate vision. An insider told The Wrap that Larraín really connected to the material and, as someone who has never worked within the Hollywood studio system, he brought an outsider perspective that allowed him to relate to the main character and his narrative. "Harry Potter filmmaker David Yates had previously been in negotiations to direct but his commitment to Tarzan prevented him from signing on."

The new Scarface is being produced by Martin Bregman, who produced the Brian De Palma version, and Marc Shmuger.

Posted by Geoff at 8:30 PM CDT
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Giorgio Moroder will introduce a special screening of Brian De Palma's Scarface, for which he composed the score and songs, at the 2014 Moogfest, which runs April 23-27 in Asheville, North Carolina. Moroder will also discuss how he brought the synthesizer into film music during a festival panel called "Innovators In Electronic Music." The fest, according to its website, is dedicated to the synthesis of technology, art and music, paying tribute to the creativity and inventiveness of Dr. Robert Moog and to the legacy of the analog synthesizer.

Posted by Geoff at 10:32 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 10:33 PM CST
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Monday, December 16, 2013
In a Hollywood Elsewhere post on Friday, Jeffrey Wells calls Martin Scorsese's Wolf Of Wall Street "the new Scarface," making a case as to why it might be disliked by a certain faction of viewers.

"I saw Wolf with critics the first time," Wells explains, "but last night’s screening played to a more mixed crowd and they were howling at times, trust me. Losing it, laughing hard. Were they absorbing what Scorsese and DiCaprio were really saying? Sure, of course, but I could sense that they were getting tingly contact highs. For The Wolf of Wall Street takes you back to your wildly irresponsible carousing days, allows you to laugh uproariously at the dumb (and perhaps reprehensible) things you did and have probably forgotten about, and then sets you free when it’s over.

"And yet for older, stodgier types who never went there in their teens or 20s or did and are determined to keep those memories in a locked box (or for those who can’t handle the crude sexual exploitation of women, which has always been a nocturnal characteristic of arrogant Wall Street types), Wolf is going to be seen as an ugly three-hour romp and nothing more. It’s not judgmental enough, Belfort is too much of a prick, what’s the point of this? and so on.

"This is why I’m calling The Wolf of Wall Street the new Scarface. It has so far been shat upon in certain quarters by the same kind of harumphy industry crowd that despised Brian De Palma‘s 1983 crime pic. And just as Scarface eventually became a cult flick (especially among 'urban' rapper/hip-hop types who idolized gangsta culture and the swagger of Al Pacino‘s Tony Montana) it’s probably going to be embraced by (a) present-day party animals and by (b) 40- and 50-somethings those who remember their druggy days and want to enjoy them once again by proxy — a three-hour tour."

Wells continues, "The Scarface Wiki page interprets the film’s reception as follows: 'According to AMC’s "DVD TV: Much More Movie" airing, Cher loved it [but] Lucille Ball, who came with her family, hated it because of the graphic violence and language, and Dustin Hoffman was said to have fallen asleep. Writers Kurt Vonnegut and John Irving were among those who allegedly walked out in disgust after the notorious chainsaw scene. At the middle of the film, Martin Scorsese turned to Steven Bauer and told him, "You guys are great but be prepared, because they’re going to hate it in Hollywood…because it’s about them."

“'Leonard Maltin was among those critics who held a negative opinion of Scarface,' the page says. 'He gave the film 1 1/2 stars out of four, stating that ‘…[Scarface] wallows in excess and unpleasantness for nearly three hours, and offers no new insights except that crime doesn’t pay.’ In later editions of his annual movie guide, Maltin included an addendum to his review stating his surprise with the film’s newfound popularity as a cult-classic.'

"This is why The Wolf of Wall Street is the only truly bold and nervy film in the Best Picture circle right now. It’s both appalling and gutsy as hell — a wild-ass moralistic 'comedy.' It’s clearly condemning Belfort’s behavior and yet…"

Posted by Geoff at 12:30 AM CST
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Continuing with the 30th anniversary of the release of Brian De Palma's Scarface, Entertainment Weekly's Kyle Anderson talked with Giorgio Moroder, who composed the score and songs for the film. "I wanted something a little bit mysterious, because this character is very complex and kind of mysterious coming from Cuba," Moroder tells Anderson. "I wanted it to have a little bit of a classical feel in the sequence of the chords. The idea came from a German half-classical singer called Klaus Nomi. He had one song where he did a very high voice, a staccato, a little bit like Laurie Anderson on ‘O Superman.’ Those two songs kind of inspired me, so I came up with the chords and then brought in the big choir and strings and all the rest."

Moroder shared a new remix of "Tony's Theme" with EW. Anderson explains that it is actually "more of a complete reinvention — Moroder did not use any of the original tracks to construct the new song."

Moroder then tells Anderson about the theme's versatility. "It works quite well with a big orchestra, and it works quite well with just a piano. There’s one section [in the movie] when Tony kills someone, and there I played kind of soft; I think it’s just a bass line. So it works well both big and small." Visit the EW post to listen to the remix, which is also available on Moroder's SoundCloud page. As Rado pointed out to us some time ago, the latter features some tracks that were not avaiable on the released soundtrack to Scarface.

Posted by Geoff at 6:43 PM CST
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Brian De Palma's Scarface opened in theaters thirty years ago today. Both Complex and Moviefone celebrated the anniversary today with "25 Things You Didn't Know About Scarface" articles. The Hollywood Reporter's Aaron Couch posted an interview with Steven Bauer, who said that having spent so much time with co-star Al Pacino while working on the film, shooting the scene in which Tony shoots Manny was difficult for him. He said De Palma did "at least 25 takes" focusing on different angles. "The way [Pacino] looked at me was a little hard to take, I have to say," Bauer tells Couch. "I was sort of secretly happy it was over in a second, and that he fires the gun right away. There's no scene where I say, 'You got it wrong.' I am really glad it was written that way. Oliver [Stone] made it short and sweet."

Bauer also repeated his story of being conratulated by Martin Scorsese following an early Hollywood screening of the film. Here's how Couch writes it:


However, the director also gave him a warning. "'They are going to hate this movie in Hollywood,'" Bauer recalls Scorsese saying to him. "And I said, 'Why?' And he said, 'Because it's about them.'"

Bauer believes Scorsese meant there were similarities between the excesses of Tony Montana and some Hollywood executives at the time: "There's nothing wrong with chasing the American dream, but if you become greedy, it'll fall from under you. You will self destruct…. [Scorsese] knew there were tendencies in Hollywood to just be over the top."


Several early discussions of Scorsese's new film, The Wolf Of Wall Street, are using Scarface as a touchstone in discussing the newer film's irredeemably unlikeable main character, with some referring to Wolf as Scarface crossed with Boiler Room, crossed with Stone's Wall Street. In this excerpt from an article by Mary Kaye Schilling at Vulture from last August, Scorsese and Jonah Hill discuss some of these aspects:

Jordan [Belfort] was a brilliant guy in a world where there may be no morality ­whatsoever,” says Scorsese. “He got caught at what a lot of people didn’t get caught at.” As he sees it, Wolf is about what happens when free-market capitalism becomes a matter of faith. “If you look at what occurred in the world of finance—many times now and it will probably happen again—you really have to ask the questions: Is dishonesty acceptable? Aren’t people expected to go too far?”

Jonah Hill plays Donnie Azoff, Stratton Oakmont’s second in command (a composite of a few characters in the book). Azoff, if possible, is even more gonzo than Belfort, who at least regretted ripping off clients. “Jordan told me that certain people [at Stratton Oakmont] actually enjoyed hurting people,” says Hill, who, along with [Leonardo] DiCaprio, spent time with current day ­traders before shooting began late last summer. “I imagine it’s a lot more politically correct and less chauvinistic now. It certainly couldn’t be more politically incorrect or chauvinistic. But it’s still very alpha male, or alpha female, depending on the person in training. People who are weak, or perceived as weak and emotional, are fed to the wolves.” At Stratton Oakmont, says Hill, the philosophy was kill-or-be-killed, and ­Gordon Gekko was fetishized, but so were Scarface and GoodFellas. “Those were their models,” he adds. “They kind of ran their businesses with those sensibilities.”

Belfort’s arc does sound a little like Henry Hill’s in GoodFellas—in this case, a nice Jewish kid from Bayside, Queens, with a genius for sales, gets seduced and corrupted by Wall Street. But Scorsese disputes comparisons between gangsters and stock brokers. “The parallel between the Mafia and Wall Street works only to the extent that they’re all interested in making as much money as possible, as quickly as possible.”


A couple of months ago, someone posted a mash-up of the trailers from Wolf Of Wall Street and Scarface on YouTube.

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 12:03 AM CST
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Thursday, October 10, 2013
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has said that he envisioned his show as Mr. Chips becoming Scarface. Now that the AMC series has come to a close, WhatCulture's Joe Young has posted "8 Notable Comparisons Between Breaking Bad And Scarface." Moving from headings such as "Drugs" and "Family," to "Violence" and "Memorable Dialogue," the article is illustrated with images and video clips. The other headings are "Greek Tragedy," "Both Characters Are Eventually Honest With Who They Are," "Neither A Good Advert For Drug Use," and "Explosive Endings."

Meanwhile, during a press conference this week for the DVD release of his Showtime series The Untold History of the United States, Scarface screenwriter Oliver Stone called the Breaking Bad finale "ridiculous," according to Forbes' Todd Gilchrist. With SPOILERS from the season finale, here is an excerpt from Gilchrist's article:

Speaking to press about the rejuvenating effects of working on documentaries in comparison to his feature work, he suggested that fiction filmmaking has lost respect for the kind of escapism it provides audiences, evidenced by the final episode of Breaking Bad. “There’s too much violence in our movies – and it’s all unreal to me,” he said. “I don’t know if you saw the denouement [of Breaking Bad], I happen to not watch the series very much, but I happened to tune in and I saw the most ridiculous 15 minutes of a movie – it would be laughed off the screen.”

Stone pointedly critiqued Walter White’s method of handling the gang that kidnapped Jesse. “Nobody could park his car right then and there and could have a machine gun that could go off perfectly and kill all of the bad guys! It would be a joke,” he insisted. “It’s only in the movies that you find this kind of fantasy violence. And that’s infected the American culture; you young people believe all of this shit! Batman and Superman, you’ve lost your minds, and you don ‘t even know it! At least respect violence. I’m not saying don’t show violence, but show it with authenticity.

The Untold History of the United States offers a fascinating look at American history, re-examining pivotal moments in the shaping of our culture and our democracy, by placing events like the development of the atomic bomb in a larger, more well-rounded context. When asked whether mainstream entertainment could provide similar sorts of lessons about American culture, Stone said that the infrastructure of studio blockbusters often obscures those potential insights.

“I wouldn’t criticize everything. I’m just saying it’s the level of violence,” Stone explained. “If people think that bringing a machine gun to your last meeting is a solution to a television series that’s very popular, I think they’re insane. Something’s wrong. It’s not the world we know. But I think there might be in Iron Man… there could be some good stories about war profiteering, some good moral tales. I agree. Comics were that for that reason, remember? But when you’ve reached this height of technology level of a Michael [Bay], of a Transformers, I don’t understand the meaning of it and the reason for it, except that it appeals to some visual sense, some kinetic sense of dynamism and a need for action. But action is not always a solution, character is.”


Posted by Geoff at 7:48 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 7:50 PM CDT
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 8:02 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 8:06 PM CDT
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Posted by Geoff at 7:24 PM CDT
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