Scarface (1983)

Scarface
Directed by Brian De Palma
Written by Oliver Stone
(number 292)

Here I go with another crime/gangster movie, with another almost three hour movie, with another critically acclaimed movie about people being assholes and I’m meant to care about it somehow? Oliver Stone, Brian de Palma, it all feels like the usual suspects of stuff I’ve already watched. Just set in a slightly different town and with people pulling different accents as they swagger and talk tough.

I didn’t know the Mariel boatlift was a thing, so reading up about that on wikipedia was pretty cool. And that this movie was made just a couple of years after it happened. Does this film count as immigrant fear mongering? Because it does seem to focus on how Cubans are all criminals.

So, okay. This movie is a little more brutal than other gangster/crime movies I’ve watched maybe. The sequence with the chainsaw in the bathroom is just nightmare fuel. I guess it’s a kind of making Tony look better thing – he’s not as nasty as the people with the chainsaw, he’s not the one carving people up. You feel like him chasing the guy down and shooting him was justified rather than just y’know, brutal. So yeah. I guess although the sequence was deeply unpleasant it was a way to frame Tony in a more sympathetic way.

I like the Miami landscapes, the lushness of the sets and the ridiculous OTT mansion Tony buys himself.

Does it make me love the people? I… no. No, it does not. I feel a little sorry for Elvira but.. eh.

Bechdel test: Elvira Hancock and Gina are our biggest characters, but they never speak. Then there’s Tony’s mother and she does talk to Gina, but it’s about Tony – arguing over whether he should be allowed to stay in the house or not. So we’ve covered the three main roles women can play: mother, virgin/little sister/needs protecting innocent and whore/love interest. Yayyy…

Best line: The world is yours

nah, it’s probably gotta be Tony with his gun: Say hello to my little friend!

State of Mind: I just… am not interested in these stories to be honest. I am feeling so done with these crime movies, which is bad news because I know I have more on the list to get through. Hopefully they won’t all be three hours long… I don’t think I love Oliver Stone movies.

Watched movie count

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Natural Born Killers (1994)

Natural Born Killers
Directed by Oliver Stone
Written by David Veloz, Richard Rutowski & Oliver Stone based on a story by Quentin Tarantino
(number 372)

Okay well this movie opened with ‘waiting for the miracle’ by Leonard Cohen so I was instantly hooked, I freaking love that song.

The last film I saw Juliette Lewis in was Whip It, and I have to say, it’s not a hugely different character for her. Woody Harrelson is always a good time, I think this was the first ‘out there’ character that he played, though. These days it’s easy to associate him with True Detective or The Hunger Games, or his whacked out character in 2012 or Tallahassee in Zombieland. I suspect this movie opened him up to those roles.

It’s filmed like a psychedelic Tarantino fever dream, with scenes flicking between colour and black and white when violence happens, showing visions and going to a fucked up sitcom sequence for a flashback. That sequence is very messed up, lots of sexual abuse and incest and grossness. Looking at how it’s told and knowing that it’s told from the point of view of two characters who do not care about human life, it’s hard to know how much is ‘true’ and how much is psychosis.

There’s a huge amount of Tarantino in this movie, from the 70s filter its to the random anime, to the casual use of rape and violence. The message is unsubtle ‘too much TV = serial killer’, and it’s hard to take seriously, but at the same time it is pretty disturbing. I’m not sure exactly what the purpose of this movie is, because it’s drenched in style for the sake of it, not to aid the story telling or the exploration of the characters.

Robert Downey Jr plays the TV journalist who is obsessed with the two killers and runs the whole gamut of emotion while talking to Mickey, therefore making Mickey look like the reasonable one. It’s a great performance from RDJ but there’s no sympathy to be had for that character, at all.

Does it make me love the people? Nope. This movie isn’t about understanding humans, or furthering the empathy that the viewer has for the people around them. Instead it’s a confused mish mash of images, talk and music set to extreme Americana, which it both celebrates and derides.

Bechdel test: Straight away Mallory talks to Rosie about pie, so yes, it’s passes. But I don’t think it passes again at any point, for the most part Mallory talks to Mickey and he does the talking for both of them to others.

Best line:
Mickey: You know, the only thing that kills the demon… is love.

State of Mind: Urgh. That was pretty dumb. I just didn’t really see the point in it. That said, putting ‘the future’ by Leonard Cohen over the end credits was all kinds of perfect. But meh, not watching that again. By the time the prison riot started up I was so sick of all the violence and death, the casual background torture was just gross to me. I was totally over it, and ready for the film to end.

Watched movie count