SUPREME IRONY OF 'SCARFACE' ENDING
APPEARS TO BE LOST ON AN ENTIRE GENERATIONThe 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."