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Sunday, January 10, 2016

The above couch-gag intro kicked off tonight's episode of The Simpsons, "Teenage Mutant Milk-Caused Hurdles." Using the montage song (Scarface (Push It To The Limit), written by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, and performed by Paul Engemann) from Brian De Palma's Scarface, the intro sees Homer donning shades and envisioning characters from the show as 1980s action movie characters.

Meanwhile, Sean Penn secretly interviewed fugitive Mexican drug lord El Chapo Guzmán for Rolling Stone. El Chapo had escaped from prison in October. "Today," Penn states in the article, El Chapo "runs the biggest international drug cartel the world has ever known, exceeding even that of Pablo Escobar. He shops and ships by some estimates more than half of all the cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana that come into the United States." Later in ther article, Penn quotes Al Pacino's "Bad Guy" monologue from Scarface in order to help describe El Chapo's brazen claims during the interview. You'll note that Penn refers to the film as "Oliver Stone's Scarface," leading some to claim Penn has made a mistake, or that he needed an editor, etc. Well, Stone did write the words that Penn is quoting in the article, and having worked with Pacino and De Palma on Carlito's Way, we're pretty sure Penn is aware that De Palma also directed Scarface in his operatic, baroque style. Which is all to say, Penn knows of which he speaks. Here's an excerpt from the Rolling Stone article:
"How much money will you make writing this article?" he asks. I answer that when I do journalism, I take no payment. I could see that, to him, the idea of doing any kind of work without payment is a fool's game. Unlike the gangsters we're used to, the John Gotti's who claimed to be simple businessmen hiding behind numerous international front companies, El Chapo sticks to an illicit game, proudly volunteering, "I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats."

He is entirely unapologetic. Against the challenges of doing business in such a clandestine industry he has ––built an empire. I am reminded of press accounts alleging a hundred-million-dollar bounty the man across from me is said to have put on Donald Trump's life. I mention Trump. El Chapo smiles, ironically saying, "Ah! Mi amigo!" His unguarded will to speak freely, his comfort with his station in life and ownership of extraordinary justifications, conjure Tony Montana in Oliver Stone's Scarface. It's the dinner scene where Elvira, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, walks out on Al Pacino's Tony Montana, loudly assailing him in a public place. The patrons at the restaurant stare at him, but rather than hide in humiliation, he stands and lectures them. "You're all a bunch of fucking assholes. You know why? You don't have the guts to be what you wanna be. You need people like me. You need people like me. So you can point your fucking fingers and say, 'That's the bad guy.' So what's that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide...how to lie. Me? I don't have that problem. Me?! I always tell the truth even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy. C'mon. Last time you're gonna see a bad guy like this again, lemme tell ya!"

See also:

New York Times: Sean Penn’s Excursions Into Writing Often Mix Activism With Journalism.

Posted by Geoff at 8:13 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, January 10, 2016 11:32 PM CST
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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Posted by Geoff at 11:40 PM CST
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Collider's Sheila Roberts posted an interview today with JASON MOORE, whose new movie, Sisters, opens this weekend, and is not a remake of Brian De Palma's 1973 film.

About midway through the interview is the following passage:
ROBERTS: At the party, Bobby Moynihan does this hilarious Scarface charade which made me wonder if that was a little inside joke or nod to Brian De Palma because he not only made Scarface, but he also made a film called Sisters?

MOORE: (laughing) Wow! No, it wasn’t that. We didn’t go that deep, but I love that you made that connection. We always knew that we wanted Bobby to do that line from Scarface since he was going to do this fake kind of Cocaine drug. That’s where that came from.

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, December 31, 2015 12:01 AM CST
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Friday, December 4, 2015
Robert Loggia, who so memorably portrayed Frank Lopez in Brian De Palma's Scarface, died Friday at his Los Angeles home, according to Variety. He was 85. His widow Audrey told Variety that Loggia had been battling Alzheimer’s Disease for the past five years.

Nominated for an Academy Award (for his supporting role in Richard Marquand's Joe Eszterhas-penned Jagged Edge) and two Emmys, Loggia had a long career in TV and film. As well as acting, he also directed several episodes of television. In film, his outrageous road rage scene as Mr. Eddy in David Lynch's Lost Highway was punctuated with one of his best lines: "Sorry about that, Pete, but tailgating is one thing I cannot tolerate."

In issue #45 of Shock Cinema last year, Loggia told Tony Williams that "Scarface was one hell of a movie. We had six weeks of rehearsal-- that was unheard of then. With Al Pacino, Brian De Palma, and a good budget, we had everything in our favor."

However, back in 2011, Loggia expressed some irritation with De Palma's direction of where to hold the gun, etc., telling QMI Agency's Bruce Kirkland that he felt De Palma was too fussy with, as Kirkland writes, "picayune details that the veteran actor felt should be left to the performers." Loggia stated, "I hate to knock a director, but you don't want a director to say, 'Do this, do that, hold the gun up there, higher, higher.' It was difficult working with (De Palma) ... for me. But he's got a career going and I don't want to say anything negative." Despite this, Loggia told Kirkland, "I think we turned out a pretty damned good movie," counting it among the reasons he loves his acting career. "Acting in general is a feeling of being transported to the heavens," Loggia said. He adds that the film has two separate styles: "The first half of the movie is impressionistic," he told Kirkland. "The second half of the movie, after I die, is expressionistic. It's completely different. I don't think that was ever articulated (during the shoot) but that was the truth of the matter. We just did it. It was obvious."

Posted by Geoff at 8:19 PM CST
Updated: Saturday, December 5, 2015 6:59 PM CST
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Sunday, August 16, 2015
The Guardian's Jeremy Allen picks Tony's Theme as #7 on his "10 of the best" Giorgio Moroder list:

"The commissions kept rolling in, and, in 1983, Moroder got to record perhaps his finest soundtrack of all for Brian De Palma’s Scarface, starring Al Pacino as Cuban immigrant and white powder enthusiast Tony Montana. Tony’s Theme (not to be confused with the Pixies’ song of the same name) is a moody and moving requiem featuring synthetic voices chanting in unison like a choir, with a simulated cello chugging underneath. Musically, the instrumental track is one of Moroder’s most ambitious, an elegiac mass that bursts into a full widescreen experience before tapering away again at the end; it’s just a shame that the full orchestral flourishes weren’t actually played by an orchestra. According to the director, Universal had intended to re-release Scarface in 2004 with a rap soundtrack, but De Palma put the kibosh on it, saying the score was already perfect. Whether they were going to use Mobb Deep’s 1997 G.O.D Part III single, which purloins a hearty sample from Tony’s Theme, is a moot point."

Posted by Geoff at 2:43 PM CDT
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Saturday, July 25, 2015
In the new film Trainwreck, written by Amy Schumer and directed by Judd Apatow, Schumer plays Amy, who makes it clear right from the start that she enjoys casual sex, drinking, and various drugs. Early in the film, she awakens from one boozy night in a bed that is not her own. As she opens her eyes, we see her look around the room, from her point of view, and the first thing she sees is a Scarface poster (from the 1983 film) hanging on the wall. The camera briefly pauses on the poster, in the center of the frame. She verbally notes the Scarface poster and begins muttering to herself as her eyes continue to dart around the room, "Please don't be a dorm room... please don't be a dorm room." It's a quick gag that got a lot of laughs at the packed theater in which I viewed Trainwreck the other night.

Posted by Geoff at 1:45 AM CDT
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Friday, July 17, 2015
In an interview with The Independent's Kaleem Aftab, Al Pacino discusses what Scarface is about, as he sees it. Here's the excerpt:
The greatness of his performances mean that sometimes the roles that he has played have taken on lives of their own. This has never been as true as with Scarface, in which he played the Cuban immigrant turned drug baron Tony Montana. The character and the life he lived have become a go-to for criminals, and lauded by a plethora of gangsta-rappers. The rags-to-riches story has been used to glorify violence. Does Pacino feel that his film has impacted culture in a negative way?

“Well I don’t know what to say about that, I don’t know.” But his moment without an opinion is short-lived.

“I look at Scarface and I don’t see that as the metaphor. I see what Brian De Palma was talking about when we made it. It was the crazy Eighties, the decade of avarice, greed and introducing that into the world; greed is good and the whole thing from Gecko in Wall Street. I thought it was a very socio-political statement, which is why rappers took to it. Hip-hop people were so buoyed up on Scarface. I know a lot of people who don’t deal drugs who are inspired by it. It’s about a kind of ingenuity, suddenly coming from the bottom and rising, which is why the original was so inspiring for me. There is something else too that seems to trigger off a certain thing, and that is this sense of his ideals as an outsider.”

Posted by Geoff at 8:08 PM CDT
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Thursday, June 18, 2015
Earlier this month, I posted a quote from Giorgio Moroder, taken from an article in Entertainment Weekly, in which he talked a bit about working on Scarface, including writing the song She's On Fire (his favorite from that soundtrack). The other day, Complex's Brendan Frederick posted an interview with Moroder, who was asked about the process oof scoring Scarface. "When I met with the director Brian De Palma in New York," Moroder tells Frederick, "he told me about the movie and gave me the script. You had this character at the beginning who is a happy guy who made it to America, but then he gets into all kinds of problems with drugs. I went back to Los Angeles, and I composed a song even before I saw any scenes. And Brian liked the demo I did. I gave it that dark, hammering note—dong, dong, dong—to capture that feel of desperation. Sometimes, if you have the main theme done, then the rest is all relatively easy."


Frederick also asked Moroder whether he was familiar with the music of Kanye West, who has sampled the Scarface theme. "What I like about Kanye’s stuff is he always comes out with new sounds that are totally different. When I heard Mercy about two years ago, I said, 'What a weird song, and what an interesting sound.' The part when he sampled [Tony’s Theme] was quite clever because he took just those two chords, instead of sampling the whole phrase, which gave it that special sound. He did a good job with that one. And even the last song he did with Rihanna and Paul McCartney [FourFiveSeconds]—he’s inventive. I’m less connected to all his other affairs aside from music—calling himself the god of creativity and all that stuff. But he’s really good."

Posted by Geoff at 1:11 AM CDT
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Sunday, June 7, 2015
In this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly (June 12 2015), Giorgio Moroder gives Clark Collis "the stories behind the songs." One of the songs Moroder talks about is She's On Fire, which was sung by Amy Holland for the Scarface soundtrack. "Brian De Palma called me and said he's doing a remake of the old movie Scarface," Moroder tells Collis. "I read the script and loved it. I went to where they were filming some of the last scenes of the movie, so I got a little bit involved during the shooting. She's On Fire has some great lyrics and the melody's great. It's my favorite one off Scarface. I never tried [cocaine] and I'm so happy [I didn't]. I think I'm the only one in Hollywood, in the music business, who did not try it."

Meanwhile, last month, the New York Post posted an excerpt from Juan Reinaldo Sanchez' recent book, The Double Life of Fidel Castro: My 17 Years as Personal Bodyguard to El Lider Maximo. The excerpt suggests that there was a whole lot of truth to the premise of De Palma's film:

"In 1980, after weeks of negotiation, 100,000 Cubans were permitted to seek exile in the United States. Fidel Castro allowed them to go to the port of the town of Mariel and embark for Florida.

“It has been said that the Comandante took advantage of the situation by emptying the prisons. It is completely true: I saw him selecting them personally. I was present when they brought him lists of prisoners with the name, the reason for the sentence, and the date of release.

“Fidel read them and with a stroke of a pen designated which ones could go and which ones could stay — ‘yes’ was for murderers and dangerous criminals, ‘no’ was for those who attacked the revolution. In total, more than 2,000 criminals found themselves free…in the streets of Miami.”

Posted by Geoff at 3:40 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, June 7, 2015 3:42 PM CDT
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Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Al Pacino, interviewed by The Star's Graham Walker

"Oliver Stone, who wrote the screenplay and who is in my opinion a great screen writer, wrote it with such alacrity, power and passion and sociopolitical projection or insight. Brian De Palma, a great director, took something that had this underpin of social significance into more of an operatic, over the top interpretation and somehow those two coincided in a way and I think allowed this movie to become what it is.”

Quentin Tarantino, interviewed by Entertainment Weekly's Keith Staskiewicz

The Hateful Eight is currently in production to be released later this year, but at that point it was deader than the runner-up in a quick-draw duel with Tarantino saying he would adapt the script into a novel instead. “I was sad for all of us that possibly he wouldn’t do it or that he would let something like that get in the way of filming,” says [Tim] Roth. “I was glad to hear I didn’t do it, though.”

To complicate matters, Tarantino also filed suit against Gawker Media for copyright infringement when the company’s Defamer website posted a link to download a PDF of the leaked script. The suit would subsequently be tossed out, refiled, and eventually dropped by Tarantino, who now admits that the legal saga ended up serving as more of a distraction than redress. “I almost regret the whole suing Gawker because it actually took the light off of what was important,” he says. “My whole thing wasn’t against Gawker, it was against Hollywood practices that have just been considered okay.”

To that end, Tarantino even ended up attending a morning meeting with the agents of William Morris to hold a discussion on integrity and discretion. He says he doesn’t blame people for wanting to get a early glimpse at his film. “You know, when Brian DePalma was doing Scarface, I wanted to know anything that I could get before it opened,” he says. “A still shot, a shot from the set, anything. I get it.”

After a cool-down period, and a successful live reading of the script, Tarantino decided he would keep the nose rather than continue to spite his face, announcing that The Hateful Eight would, in fact, be going forward. He made a number of changes to the script—including a wholly new ending—and started looking for the actors to round out his cast, albeit slightly more prudently than before. “It wasn’t until I went to audition at his house that he gave me the ending,” Jennifer Jason Leigh says. “He was being really careful by that point.”

The Boston Globe's Ted Widmer: "What the man behind the ‘American Dream’ really meant"

"We all feel drawn to the 'American Dream.' For millions, immigrants especially, the phrase has evoked the full promise of the United States. What it means exactly, though, has shifted significantly over the years, and that accordion-like expansiveness has only increased its usefulness. Like a utility player on a baseball team, it’s a slogan that can play nearly any position, helping writers, politicians, activists, and academics talk about ways our society builds expectations — and occasionally delivers on them.

"But there can be a downside to a phrase that tries too hard, and in his new book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam ultimately turns the notion on its head, arguing that the dream has become 'a split-screen American nightmare.' In Putnam’s hands, the phrase lingers as a jab to conscience, a reminder that we can do better — and often have...

"In 1931, amid the Great Depression, [James Truslow] Adams wrote another bestseller, The Epic of America, published in Boston by Little, Brown. This was the launch pad for the immortal quote. In a burst of democratic enthusiasm, he praised 'the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.'

"Adams was careful to separate the dream from mere prosperity — it was not a 'a dream of motor cars and high wages,' but 'a dream of a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.' It was a dream that could not exist in the older parts of the world, with their class structures, but needed, by definition, to be available 'for the simple human being of any and every class.'

"Other New Englanders in other centuries had said similar things — John Winthrop’s City upon a Hill, though that was more a collective than an individual dream, or Benjamin Franklin’s relentless schemes for self-advancement. But Adams improved upon them with a succinctness that fit the 20th century.

"Like any great expression, it has enjoyed a life of its own — wildly beyond the expectations of its creator, and often beyond his specific instructions as well. Despite his attempts to define it carefully, the American Dream has been identified with wealth, over and over again, by marketers, media, and the masses. Brian De Palma’s 1983 film Scarface, in which Al Pacino portrays a murderous drug dealer in Miami, included the tagline, 'He loved the American Dream. With a vengeance.' Donald Trump often attacks antipoverty programs for destroying the American Dream. But getting it so wrong is, in a way, a tribute to the idea’s hold on our imagination."

The Guardian's Keith Stuart: "The cliche of the lone male gamer needs to be destroyed"

"Even more tenuous is the idea that boys now completely lack societal role models. [Psychologist Philip] Zimbardo sees a popular culturing teeming with moodles ('man poodles') and infantilised losers like the stars of Judd Apatow’s comedy movies. What he doesn’t seem to have kept up with is the rise of the aspirational geek. Sure, the muscle-bound alpha males of 80s action cinema have largely retired, but tech culture has brought us new figureheads – Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Biz Stone, Palmer Luckey – men who (whatever you personally think of them) reached the top through intelligence and industry, who read the prevailing tech trends and got it all right. David Fincher’s movie Social Network is effectively a modern-age take on Brian de Palma’s Scarface: the analysis of male aspiration and heroism as a symbol for its contemporary milieu. Geeks are heroes now, and they’re a lot more functional and relatable than the movie and sports stars we once adored."

Posted by Geoff at 12:16 AM CDT
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