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Scarface

In the early 1980’s thousands of people leave Cuba bound for the United States to find a better life. One such immigrant is Tony Montana (played by Al Pacino) who’s had a few scrapes with the law and is desperate to become a success. He starts at a refugee camp in Florida, earning a living washing dishes at a food van, but he and his friend Manny Ribera (by Steven Bauer) pretty soon move on. In exchange for a Green Card they agree to do a contract killing. Tony and Manny get involved in a drugs operation and meet big time dealer Frank Lopez (by Robert Loggia). Tony’s got a knack for this type of thing and a few successes come  his way, so he partners with Frank and they start to do business with contacts in Columbia. Everything goes well, customers are happy and money rolls in. Frank marries the beautiful Elvira (by Michelle Pfeiffer) and he tries to look after his Mama (by Miriam Colon) and his sister Gina (by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), but his mother doesn’t approve and she rejects him. Tony’s relationships suffer but his business booms. A big drug dealer in South America, Alejandro Sosa (by Paul Shenar), starts to work with the Montana organisation until things go bad and get dangerous. Violence escalates across Miami and Tony’s business comes under scrutiny by the Tax Department and the Feds. Tony starts to panic when he realises life’s about more than just money and he can’t buy his way out of everything …

This movie is a good adventure story with some heavy action scenes. The improving lifestyle of the up and coming drug dealer is opulent and filled with excesses. Tony’s relationship with Elvira (played by a very young Michelle Pfeiffer) is interesting but not really critical to the story. The violence in the movie would have been graphic in its day and indeed the story would have been ground-breaking then too. Al Pacino is gritty and real as Tony Montana – he is good in these “down to earth” roles. I hate to say it, but Michelle Pfeiffer is little more than a decoration here, however as Gina, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio gives things a bit more life and emotion. The male characters are all pretty strong – well done to Steve Bauer, who has had quite a successful career since this one. It’s quite a long movie – nearly 3 hours, and  it probably doesn’t need to be, but overall it’s a decent adventure. It was nominated for a few Golden Globes, but went without any recognition through the awards season of 1984, perhaps as it’s a remake of a 1932 movie. This one is written by Oliver Stone.

Made in 1983. Directed by Brian De Palma.

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Posted by on January 27, 2015 in Movies

 

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New Year’s Eve

Across New York City, people are getting prepared for tonight … it’s New Years Eve. Some people have high expectations and big plans, others want to spend the evening in their own individual way. Amongst all these people, there is one common thread – they all seek something … all near Times Square, where the huge New Year’s Ball will fall on the stoke of midnight, to usher in the New Year with all the hopes and expectations that come with it. We watch the fortunes of pregnant women expecting their first child, people looking for love, others trying to forget love, some trying to mend a broken heart and some spending the last precious hours of the year celebrating their lives.

This is a lightweight movie that is fine to watch if you need to pass the time. The comedy is mostly witty and a big part of the entertainment comes from the ensemble cast – not in their performances, which are all just utilitarian, but in the delight you get when yet another big star pops up in one of the scenarios. That is quite fun … there are dozens of stars in this. It’s nothing special, but not difficult to watch. Sofia Vergara is my favourite here, closely followed by Hilary Swank. All in all, yes it’s okay.

Made in 2011. Directed by Garry Marshall

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Movies

 

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Dangerous Liaisons

In 1760, the Marquise de Merteuil (played by Glenn Close) has a lot of spare time on her hands. She lives for the excitement of intrigue, revenge and passion but she has had a string of unsuccessful relationships, which has made her a lonely, spiteful and mischevious woman. To entertain herself, she decides to create some trouble between a young and virtuous woman called Cecile de Volanges (by Uma Thurman) and her betrothed [Gercourt]. She persuades her ex-lover, Vicomte de Valmont (by John Malkovich) to seduce Cecile before her wedding day, thus publicly humiliating Gercourt. However, Valmont is just as conniving and counters this with an offer to sleep with the beautiful, married, and God-fearing Madame de Tourvel (by Michelle Pfeiffer) – but only if the reward is a night in the Marquise’s own bed – she agrees (thinking this will be impossible for him) and insists that he provides proof for her. Valmont progresses with both conquests – but he develops a set of morals along the way, which causes the Marquise de Merteuil to become even more bitter and vindictive. There are life-changing consequences for everyone involved …

This is basically a French soap opera. Glenn Close and John Malkovich are excellent as these characters and it is clearly an adaptation of a play. The costumes are wonderful and the music is divine. You will probably enjoy the youthful, fresh face of Keanu Reeves as Decany also. The movie itself – it’s not a soaring passionate love story, nor a tradgedy, but it’s okay.

The movie won three Academy (Oscar) Awards in 1988 for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. It is adapted from French author Francois Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 novel “Les Liasons Dangeureuses”

Made in 1988. Directed by Stephen Frears

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2012 in Movies

 

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