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Saturday, February 14, 2015
Thanks to Matthew for sending in these two captures from the Saturday Night Live skit, "A Very Cuban Christmas." The skit, which you can watch on Hulu, originally aired on the December 20th episode. It's a big irreverent jumble thrown together after the U.S. and Cuba made a joint announcement three days earlier that they planned to work together to re-establish diplomatic relations. SNL cast member Kyle Mooney played Tony Montana, with that week's host, Amy Adams, as Elvira. The fictional Montana spouts the fictional declaration that "the best news is, the embargo of Cuba has been lifted. Tell 'em what that means, baby!" Elvira replies, "First we get the money, then we get the cell phone, then we get the Walmart." Tony then says, "That's right! Now why don't you say hello to my little friend-- it's Elian Gonzalez, and he's all grown up!"

Meanwhile, on January 30th, prior to the Super Bowl, Grantland posted the video below to YouTube with the description, "Grantland has cell-phone footage of Bill Belichick at a team dinner addressing the scrutiny the Patriots have been under heading into Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona."

Posted by Geoff at 5:45 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, February 14, 2015 5:59 PM CST
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Sunday, February 8, 2015
The Hollywood Reporter's Boyd van Hoeij reviews the new documentary, Jack Pettibone Riccobono's The Seventh Fire, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival the other day. Presented by Terrence Malick, and executive-produced by Natalie Portman, the film follows "the hardscrabble lives of two men on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota" for several years, according to van Hoeij. "The first couple of reels are very loosely structured," van Hoeij states, "with no one identified onscreen, which gives the film a verite edge but which also means that it takes a good while for the material to find its footing and make it clear what and, more importantly, who, the film is exactly about.

"The feature’s protagonists finally turn out to be Rob Brown, in his thirties, and Kevin Fineday, who’ll be 18 when the film ends. They are, respectively, a criminal with (as per the press notes) ties to the Native Gangster Disciples gang and his young and unofficial protégé of sorts, with the initially scrawny Kevin looking up to the hulking Brown, who’s been to prison already five times. Kevin, called a liar and worse by several others around him, admits on camera he’s torn between the idea of becoming a big drug dealer and 'doing something somewhat the right way,' though for the moment, he described himself as a 'middle man, for weed, pills, meth, whatever,' and says that’s pretty much his 'job until further notice'. In one of the film’s strongest scenes, which would have deserved a bit more prominence, Brown tells Kevin that he already spent 12 years in jail and Kevin’s only 15 years old. 'Don’t be like me and get used to it,' he says, though at that very moment, Kevin’s just told Rob he hopes he’ll get his first plea bargain.

"Brown, meanwhile, has impregnated his girlfriend of three months before he’s off to jail for another 57 month stint and Kevin has even followed his example in this respect, knocking up a girl who then lost the baby a couple of weeks into her pregnancy. She blames herself, saying she 'messed up' (not quite the term she uses) birth control and has since broken up with Kevin over the fact he 'messed' -- more f-words used here -- with several drugs deals for her, each time adding salt to the meth he’s selling so as to increase the weight. Clearly, any idea of a connection or some kind of affection between these two human beings seems far-fetched; Brown, despite the fact he’s about to miss out on the first two-and-a-half years of his daughter’s life, seems a little -- but just a little -- luckier in that respect.

"What thus emerges, initially in fits and starts but then more forcefully as the film builds and the relationships crystallize, is a picture of life in the reservation community of Pine Point (or 'P-Town') as a place where lying and cheating, scoring and selling drugs and a host of other criminal activities are the order of the day and something as normal as love and human warmth are in short supply, with even the rapport between Kevin and his father feeling distant. Drug use is filmed with an unflinching eye (though some of this footage is not as high-definition as the rest) while posters on the walls in the background attest to an unoriginal and unhealthy obsession with the Brian De Palma version of Scarface, which seems to have made being a gangster super cool, suggesting exactly none of the people of an entire generation watched the film al the way through until it’s bloody, tragic and supremely ironic ending."

Posted by Geoff at 12:16 AM CST
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Friday, January 30, 2015

Thanks to Alan for letting us know about the cartoon above, which is published in the February 2, 2015 issue of The New Yorker.

Posted by Geoff at 7:14 PM CST
Updated: Friday, January 30, 2015 8:12 PM CST
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Back in July I posted that The Borscht Corp., an open-source collaborative dedicated to telling Miami stories, had started a project called Scarface Redux. The project was described as "a global collaborative effort to remake Brian De Palma’s Scarface." The web site (pictured above) lays out three steps: "First, Brian De Palma's Scarface is cut up into 15-second chunks"; "Then, you pick a scene, shoot and remake it however you like"; "Finally, we put it all together into a completely new version of Scarface."

"Scarface Redux" will be unveiled this Sunday (December 21st) at 8pm in Miami Beach, according to the Miami Herald's Debra K. Leibowitz. The screening will be one of the final events of this year's Borscht Film Festival, which began December 17th, and ends on the 21st. The Herald article states that Scarface Redux will play from 8-10pm, but it doesn't explain why that is about 45-minutes shorter than De Palma's film (perhaps they did not receive submissions for each of the 15-second clips). Leibowitz reports in the Herald: "A contest was held for the best scene submitted. Top prize included hotel and airfare for two to Miami, plus VIP tickets to all screenings and parties. Turns out the winner was local: Miami-based filmmaker Martell Harding, a 25-year old Florida International University graduate for his redux of Scene 94: The Shoot Up. Contest judges included Miami Herald film critic Rene Rodriguez, Rakontur Film’s Billy Corben and NBC-6 anchor Adam Kuperstein. Scarface Redux party fee is a $10 donation; free to those who submitted a clip."

Also screening at the fest this year is The Voice Thief, a new short film from Adan Jodorowsky, son of Alejandro Jodorowsky, starring Asia Argento. Borscht executive-produced the short, according to Miami New Times' Hans Morgenstern.

Posted by Geoff at 10:05 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 18, 2014 7:29 PM CST
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard's staged documentary of rock star Nick Cave, 20,000 Days on Earth, follows Cave through his purported 20,000th day of life. According to Billboard's Joe Lynch, "While conversations emerge organically, each scene -- whether Cave is driving, working with the Bad Seeds on their latest album Push the Sky Away or thumbing through memorabilia in Melbourne's Nick Cave archives -- was meticulously constructed."

Lynch interviews Cave about the film, and at one point, asks him about a scene in which he watches Brian De Palma's Scarface with his twin boys:


[Lynch] There's a scene in the film where Nick is sitting with his twin sons, eating pizza and watching Scarface. Why that film?

Cave: It was just a film that they'd been on at me to watch. "We want to watch Scarface!" Maybe I'd talked about it or something. And I said, "Well it's got some scenes in it that are pretty heavy, do you think you're all right to watch it?" They said, "Oh, we've already watched the chainsaw scene on YouTube." We wanted to find a film that they hadn't seen, and they have seen a lot of that super violent stuff with me anyway. [My twin sons and I] had a thing we'd do that we'd sit down and watch a film that we shouldn't be watching together. It was a bonding experience.

[Lynch] What other movies do you watch with them?

Cave: Just...violent films. So we all wanted something that could hold them, and Scarface is such an opera -- an exaggerated cartoon of the world. That scene is probably my favorite -- not because it's got kids in it, but it sets up an idea. It's the one moment of Nick Cave supposedly at home, doing an ordinary thing with his kids. But it's not. I'm sitting there, the camera is here, we're looking into the camera -- we're not looking at the TV at all. So there's this sense of being removed from the ordinary, or that the ordinary has been taken away from us and it's something we're not able to reclaim. And that's true.

[Lynch] It's also one of the few scenes where we see you laughing.

Cave: That's just how it ended up. I laugh a lot actually, but you don't laugh a lot when the camera is on. There's a lovely outtake of Kylie and I that says a lot. We're in the car; they haven't started shooting but they're filming. We're talking about something, it's very light, and then they say 'action' and both of us [pantomimes stone face]. It's not that we're trying to portray anything, it's just the effect that it has over you. The claustrophobic, unfunny aspect of being filmed.


Posted by Geoff at 12:00 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, October 1, 2014 12:03 AM CDT
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Friday, September 26, 2014
Beginning tonight (Friday) at 9:30pm, and playing at that time every night through Tuesday, September 30th, Seattle's Central Cinema, which bills itself as "Seattle's most Fun Movie Theater," will be showing Brian De Palma's Scarface. Tickets are $9, but Tuesday night it's only 99 cents.

Meanwhile, Den Of Geek's Juliette Harrisson interviewed production designer Grant Montgomery on the set of the TV gangster drama Peaky Blinders, series 2. The show takes place in Birmingham, England, just after the First World War. Netflix will begin streaming series 1 September 30th, while the first episode of series 2 will air on BBC Two October 2nd.

As Montgomery tells Harrisson about what viewers can expect series 2 to look like, he refers to such films as Heaven's Gate (for the look of series 1), The Godfather, Inception, Drive, and Scarface. Here's an excerpt:


Basically, Tommy’s empire has grown. You’ll see him moving to the metropolis of London and taking on the big gangsters that run London, so visually, you’re moving much more into bigger spaces, and you’re leaving behind a lot of the dark working-class world. Because they have money, and Tommy is beginning to use that money, he’s buying up houses in London. The world is opening up, it’s becoming much more expansive, and the spaces become bigger.

It becomes much more like a gangster world, the references become much more attuned to The Godfather rather than Heaven’s Gate. I was using Heaven’s Gate as a reference in season 1, [but] in season 2 the references are really to The Godfather. [Tommy’s] office is a total homage to The Godfather. There’s oranges on the table!

There are a lot of [other] references as well. For example, there’s a huge club called The Eden, which is a big metropolitan club, and again I like to reference things, so there’s a lot of little nods, winks – there’s a scorpion design that’s basically from Ryan Gosling’s jacket in Drive. I wanted to turn it into a really big nod to Inception, there’s a lot of gold. There’s a lot of gold within the whole series, actually, and that echoes season 1.

You’ll see loads of [references] that are just peppered through the whole of the look, and I think that’s playful. That was in the first season, ‘cause it was all from a lot of Westerns, Rio Bravo, Deadwood and all the rest.

[Harrisson] How much freedom do you have to do that, mixing in so many different references? Do you just not tell anyone?

I just do it, because it’s there! Steven [Knight]’s writing is so detailed, but allows you still to bring images and references to the party. So I’ve never felt constricted by what we’re doing, because it’s a mythology, it’s not strictly historically – it’s not a historical recreation, it’s very much a mythology.

Also, I’ve always brought a kind of Americana feel, like for example Tommy’s office, there’s a lot of references to Los Angeles there, the shape of certain curves etc. I’ve always tried to bring an Americana kind of sheen to a British gangster story. I think that’s legitimate because it is a myth.

The Garrison pub has been transformed, because [Tommy’s] gone to see London and he’s brought back an idea and done basically a Scarface on it. He’s done a 1980s Brian De Palma Al Pacino Scarface on his own pub, and it’s turned into this huge golden Las Vegas kind of mecca to his ambition, so it’s completely transformed.

[Harrisson] Is that your imprint, or is that implied in the script?

No, it’s implied in the script. He comes back and says, ‘right I’m gonna give Birmingham what I’ve seen in London. I’m gonna give the masses what they want’, which is this glamour. And he’s quite a glamourous individual. And I think also every location and every set is starting to change because he’s got money, so he buys a house from Polly in suburbia, and he’s buying racehorses, and he’s buying fast cars. You see him with this huge amount of money, and where’s that money going to take him? And I’ve always used gold as a symbol [for] his desire and ambition for money and wealth.


Posted by Geoff at 5:54 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 29, 2014 3:42 AM CDT
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Sunday, September 7, 2014
Brian De Palma's Scarface will be shown in Cinemark theaters across the U.S. today (Sunday) at 2pm, and Wednesday (September 10th) at 2pm and 7pm. The screenings are part of Cinemark's "Classic Series," which features six films, including Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, Robert Altman's M*A*S*H, and (from Scarface to Scarlett), Gone With The Wind. You can search for theaters showing the series here.

Posted by Geoff at 11:22 AM CDT
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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
Venice Film Fest review of Ramin Bahrani's 99 Homes

"What makes this so thrilling as drama isn’t simply the fact of Dennis’s corruption but the speed with which it happens. In a deeply plausible, surprisingly un-filmic way, he only gets around to wrestling with his conscience when it’s too late for the result to make any odds.

"Perhaps Bahrani is invoking Brian De Palma’s Scarface in the Florida setting: certainly, Carver’s nihilistic state-of-the-nation rants recall Tony Montana in his self-actualising pomp, and [Michael] Shannon delivers them with Tyrannosaur charisma. He and [Andrew] Garfield are an ideal double-act, and the possibility of a late Damascene conversion for either man seems unlikely, but never out of the question."

Posted by Geoff at 11:56 PM CDT
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Friday, July 18, 2014
In preparation for his set as a DJ tonight at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, Giorgio Moroder was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune's Allison Stewart. "There was a time when Jay Z wanted to (remake) some of the songs from [Scarface]," Moroder tells Stewart, "but it didn't work out because Brian De Palma didn't want to do it. But I talked to several (rappers) like Jay Z, and they loved the movie. Some of them had seen the movie like twenty, thirty, forty times, and people remember the dialogue. It's one of those cult movies."

Back in 2003, as the film was turning 20, the Los Angeles Times' Elaine Dutka reported that the chairman of Island Def Jam, Lyor Cohen, had met with De Palma to suggest that the artists on his label compose a new soundtrack for Scarface, "with or without Moroder." Dutka added, "Though [Martin] Bregman and even [Al] Pacino made the case for the proposal, the director was aghast."

Dutka quoted De Palma: "They said it would help promotion, presenting the film in a different way. But Giorgio's music was true to the period, I argued -- and no one changes the scores on movies by Marty Scorsese, John Ford, David Lean. If this is the 'masterpiece' you say, leave it alone. I fought them tooth and nail and was the odd man out, not an unusual place for me. I have final cut, so that stopped them dead."

Dutka's article then continues:


Universal's [Craig] Kornblau hasn't given up on the thought of creating a "reinvigorated and more relevant soundtrack," however. Nor has Kevin Liles, president of Def Jam/Def Soul Records. "Hip-hop, as Chuck D says, is the 'CNN of the ghetto,' " Liles points out. "Incorporating it into a classic like this would convey the current reality. The message, unfortunately, is as relevant today as when the movie emerged. I'll be the first up to bat to rescore the film, which touched such a nerve in the 'hood. Though Montana is Latino, all those kids identify with his job in the burger shop, idolizing guys with the big Benz and flashy women. Music is the soul of any movie, and a new soundtrack would increase its power."

Within a year after Dutka's article was written, Cohen and Liles had left Def Jam, and Jay Z had been appointed president of the record label.

Posted by Geoff at 12:30 AM CDT
Updated: Friday, July 18, 2014 12:34 AM CDT
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Friday, July 11, 2014

The Borscht Corp., an open-source collaborative dedicated to telling Miami stories, according to its web site, has started a project called Scarface Redux. The project is described as "a global collaborative effort to remake Brian De Palma’s Scarface." The web site (pictured above) lays out three steps: "First, Brian De Palma's Scarface is cut up into 15-second chunks"; "Then, you pick a scene, shoot and remake it however you like"; "Finally, we put it all together into a completely new version of Scarface."

You can see all the 15-second clips (636 of them) on the site, as well as the few scenes that have already been submitted for the project. In an e-mail about the project sent to Film School Rejects, the group states, "For better or worse, Scarface had held Miami’s image in a vice grip since it came out... As our mission is to redefine cinema in Miami (and vice-versa) we thought it was about time to get literal and take back our image! Or something."

Posted by Geoff at 6:38 PM CDT
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