REIMAGINING WILL HAVE MEXICAN IMMIGRANT SET IN MODERN DAY LOS ANGELES
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 Ayer's 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.