Quick-Thoughts: Brian De Palma’s Scarface (1983)

Screened at Cinépolis

“You need people like me so you can point your f**king fingers and say, ‘that’s the bad guy.’ So, what 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.” 

What’s it like being the boss? What’s it like to be someone people are just as willing to root for their success as it is their demise, a man who wants to follow his own set of moral guidelines and at the same time eagerly and willingly climb the social ladder the criminal way? Doesn’t protecting the innocent from yourself sound like giving into the inevitability of failure as someone who is openly the “bad guy”, the ambitious go-getter? Your world is yours, but at the same time, it can’t exactly be everyone’s, even by overwhelming force and power.

During Tony Montana’s first drug deal, we get an ingenious four-part window transition between the malicious introduction of a chainsaw to the beachside streets of dreamy male desire and right back to that reality of obtaining it. This fluctuation between horror and the all seemingly too swimmingly well is De Palma inflicting ominous tone at a peak for me, setting the essence of the majority of the three-hour feature’s runtime. By the time Tony has obtained every physical matter he’s ever wanted though, that tonal truth alas implodes into utter anarchy: you may be able to own thee world, but rarely can you alter its dissolute rules by your own world.

“You want a job Ernie” is one of the greatest releases of tension I’ve ever seen – now that’s how you do a f**king one-liner, Hollywood! Giorgio Moroder’s score is just thrilling and permeated with such sonic contrast between its electronics and industrials. The finale works on such a conceptually intense level because it’s using De Palma’s trademark horror emphases to capture a truly terrifying demise, especially when it comes to its twisted familial confrontation which exhibits perhaps the film’s strongest miscommunication between the world-owner and the owned. De Palma meets Stone? Why didn’t I see this sooner?

Verdict: A

All-Time Favorites, Brian De Palma Ranked

“Scarface” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

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