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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Posted by Geoff at 2:34 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, March 26, 2016 2:36 AM CDT
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Thursday, March 17, 2016
The Guardian's Danny Leigh posted a profile on Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín. Two years ago, it was first reported that Larraín was in negotiations to direct a new remake of Scarface, and then a year later (otherwise known as a year ago), it was announced that Straight Outta Compton screenwriter Jonathan Herman had been hired to write the Scarface remake. Now Leigh reports that this would be Larraín's dream project, but that it is currently stuck in development. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian article:
Larraín’s films aren’t just politically alive, they’re bracing as cinema. No was shot on U-matic tape to imitate lo-fi 80s Chilean TV news; The Club unfolds in ashen half-light, as if the moral rot had got into the sun. He shrugs at the idea that, as a director, moving into the English language is inevitable. “I just want to be able to control the story, and for it to mean something to me.” But he is making his first American film: Jackie, a portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy in the days after John F Kennedy’s assassination. Before that will be another Chilean movie, Neruda, about the 1940s hounding of the communist poet Pablo Neruda. “The scale is big. The money. Here, you might not think it was big, but it’s big for us in Chile.”

The money may get bigger still. Larraín’s dream project, marooned in development, is a remake of Brian De Palma’s Scarface. It would be set in Los Angeles, with a Mexican kingpin replacing the Cuban Tony Montana: quite something in Trumpian times. Larraín is coy. “I could never talk about a movie I haven’t made yet.” It would be a hell of a risk, remaking a film whose every line is someone’s favourite ever. There’s a laugh and an eye roll. “Tell me about it!”

Posted by Geoff at 11:58 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, March 18, 2016 12:11 AM CDT
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Monday, March 14, 2016

Last week, The Hollywood Reporter's Pete Keeley posted an informative article with the headline, "'Scarface': Whatever Happened to Tony Montana's 'Little Friend'?" Here's an excerpt:
The M203 grenade launcher was introduced in 1969 and used extensively by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. But Tony's had to be fabricated by the studio props department because Scarface prop master John Zemansky couldn't find a manufacturer willing to sell him an actual, live-firing M203. The launcher is not technically illegal to possess (or at least it wasn't in California in the early '80s), but it is classified as a "destructive device" under the National Firearms Act and requires a special license to own.

"I basically manufactured one that looks exactly like the real one except that I put a different trigger system in so it would fire a blank cartridge," says Zemansky, who had five duplicate launchers made for the production. "We put a sleeve in [the barrel] to accept what kind of cartridge we wanted." Because the fabricated weapons weren't capable of firing actual 40mm grenades (Zemansky recalls that it was outfitted to fire shotgun shells), they weren't subject to the same onerous regulations as a real M203.

Still, after Scarface wrapped, the fake M203s were sold off to Stembridge Gun Rentals, an armory that supplies weapons to Hollywood productions. "I didn't want it because I didn't want to have a problem with the ATF or anybody! It was easier just to get it out of my possession," says Zemansky.

Stembridge rented out Tony's "Little Friend" to other films and TV shows over the years. Most notably, it appeared in Clint Eastwood's Heartbreak Ridge (1986) and John McTiernan's 1987 action classic Predator, where Arnold Schwarzenegger himself toted it in several scenes. It even appears on the one-sheet.

Stembridge Gun Rentals' Syd Stembridge says he no longer has any of the Scarface M203s in his collection, but one of the launchers sold at auction in November (attached to a replica AR-15) for $54,400. A big number for a little friend.

Posted by Geoff at 9:06 PM CDT
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Sunday, March 6, 2016
Matt Zoller Seitz has been working on a book about Oliver Stone. The Oliver Stone Experience will be in the spirit of the author's recent books about Wes Anderson. Today and tomorrow, Zoller Seitz will tease the book at the Alamo Drafthouse in Denver, presenting, along with Stone himself, two of the director's films on Sunday (today), and, without Stone, Brian De Palma's Scarface (which was written by Stone) on Monday night with a "Cuban Feast" at 7:30pm. The two Sunday films, with Stone accompanying the author, are Natural Born Killers (already sold out), and U-Turn.

In April 2014, I had the pleasure of seeing Stone present his film Born On The Fourth Of July from a 35mm print at Ebertfest, followed by a discussion on stage with Zoller Seitz. At that time, the book had just been announced, and I spoke with Seitz afterward, who told me he was really excited about the design ideas for it, which would be necessarily different than that of his Wes Anderson book-- a bit more sprawling, to match the sheer propulsive drive of Stone's ideas and experiences. In any case, the rapport between Stone and Seitz seemed pretty tight, and I'm looking forward to what sounds like a fresh, invigorative journey through the films of Oliver Stone.

Posted by Geoff at 5:31 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, March 6, 2016 5:34 AM CST
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There was a lot of excitement and curiosity last month when Brian De Palma's The Fury was added to Netflix' streaming service. Now March comes in like a lion at Netflix with the addition of De Palma's Scarface into the mix. Here's a collection of links and what some have been saying about it in the past week or so:

Jackson McHenry, Vulture

"It’s a crime that the site that gave us Narcos didn’t already have Scarface on file — then again, maybe that was a strategic move, as the TV show pales in comparison to Brian De Palma’s red-blooded epic. As he rises to the top of Miami’s drug trade, Al Pacino says all the lines you’ve heard teenage boys misquote elsewhere. A reboot was in the works a while back, but why would you want that? Just watch this."

Amy West, International Business Times

"Directed by Brian De Palma (Carrie, The Untouchables) and written by Oliver Stone (Platoon, Natural Born Killers), Scarface has arguably become one of the most iconic gangster movies of all time since its release, despite being nominated for a Razzie Award way back in 1984. So if crime drama is your thing, make sure you 'say hello' to one of the best in the genre.

"Watch this if you enjoyed: Carlito's Way, The Godfather, Goodfellas, American Gangster, Serpico, Training Day, Deep Cover, Casino and Once Upon A Time In America."

Jack Giroux, /Film

"How well does Scarface hold up? You can find out on March 1st. Admittedly, not all of Brian De Palma‘s rise-and-fall drug kingpin story has aged well. The montage set to 'Push it to the Limit' is a product of its time, but Al Pacino‘s performance remains monstrous and grand. It’s a larger-than-life kind of performance, which has earned its iconic status. Scarface is a highly-entertaining crime film. Maybe it’s not De Palma’s best, but Pacino’s performance is just so ferocious and fun."

Posted by Geoff at 5:00 AM CST
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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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