Archives for posts with tag: Oliver Stone

Grade A

In 1983, screenwriter Oliver Stone and director Brian De Palma brought to the world a movie about Miami drug dealers that was so indelible, it is still viewed and enjoyed and quoted by millions of movie fans.

Al Pacino plays the title role in “Scarface,” a Cuban immigrant/gangster who takes advantage of the 1980 Mariel Boatlift in Cuba to immigrate to the United States.  With his trusty friend and fellow gangster (played by Steven Bauer) by his side, Pacino’s ferocity and knowledge of “the streets” allows him to move up fast in the cocaine drug trade.  But he fails to listen to the advice of his first boss: not to be greedy, because those who want it all no longer fly straight, and then they’re gone.

“Scarface” is basically one, big, memorable movie moment!  Unless I want to have a list 100 pages long, I will narrow it down to three.  Third place goes to **SPOILER ALERT** the shocking scene when Pacino is looking for his sister, played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and he comes upon a house that is opened by his best friend, Bauer, and Mastrantonio is on the upper floor putting on her nightgown.  In his cocaine-fueled rage, Pacino shoots and kills Bauer!  Oh, that was tough to watch the first time.

Second place in my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when a Colombian drug dealer uses a chainsaw to dismember Pacino’s friend.  Many believe that this is the most violent part of the movie; but the dismemberment is never shown.  We see faces splattered in blood, the reactions of Pacino and the one being cut to pieces…the rest is filled in by the minds of the audience, making us believe that this scene was more violent than was actually depicted.

Perched at the top of my memorable, movie moments of “Scarface” is the scene when Pacino makes his stand against the hit squad sent to kill him.  Grabbing his M-16 rifle with the M203 grenade launcher attached to the foregrip, Pacino braces himself and aims his weapon at the locked door that the hit squad is trying to open.  Pacino screams the most famous line of the movie, “Say hello to my little friend!” and fires a grenade at the door.

Honorable mentions must be made to the fine performances of Mastrantonio, a very young Michell Pfeiffer who plays Pacino’s love interest, Robert Loggia and F. Murray Abraham.  For fans of gangster movies, “Scarface” is not to be missed.

— M

I have to be careful of my assessment of the Oliver Stone movie, “Savages,” because I watched it while hanging out with 4 of my best friends; and it was the first movie we watched that day, and we were all pretty chatty at that point.   And we all know what happens when there’s a lot of cross talk during a movie: some of the subtleties and nuances of the movie are missed, as well as some of the dialogue that can be critical in the true understanding of the movie.  With that said, here we go.

“Savages” has Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson playing pot growers/dealers in California who have the same lover played by Blake Lively.  The business and pot of Kitsch/Johnson are so good that it attracts the attention of a Mexican drug cartel, headed by Salma Hayek.  Hayek wants them all to be partners, but the two Cali white dudes say no, so the cartel kidnaps Lively to force the white dudes into making the deal.  Kitsch, being the balls out, Iraqi/Afghan war vet, eventually decides that a war with the Mexicans is inevitable since he believes there can be no happy ending to the mess they find themselves in.  So, Kitsch/Johnson and their crew of ex-military guys take the fight to the Mexicans; and that’s when things get really messy and brutal.

I decided to watch “Savages” based on the trailer and the Oliver Stone name.  First, the trailer makes you think that this is mostly an action flick. It’s not.  “Savages” is in the realm of drama/suspense/thriller, with a bit of action thrown here and there.  Second, this is not Oliver Stone’s best movie.  But it is an okay movie.  I like the way Stone shows us the private lives of the Mexican cartel members, so that we see what makes them tick, and not just see them as mindless thugs.   One cartel member is played by Benicio Del Toro; and all scenes with him are memorable, movie moments of “Savages,” as he looks like an evil, Mexican, Brad Pitt!  It is…very disturbing…and funny.  You know, like the way the Catholic church likes to talk about how we should strive to be good people, and yet the church has used its powers to shield child molesters within their ranks from prosecution.  Sure, sure, the Catholic church are making strides to come down hard on child raping priests; but only after the wrong doings of the church were revealed over a period of decades.

Speaking of wrong, Oliver Stone gives us a “what the hell?” moment at the endings of “Savages.”  Yes, endings.  We get two endings.  I won’t go into details in order not to spoil it for you; but the ending sequences takes the first prize for the most memorable, movie moment (or should I say moments?).    I will say that it ruined “Savages” for me.  Despite the trailer fooling me into thinking that this movie was going to be an all out war between two guys and a Mexican drug cartel, I was able to find the numerous merits of this movie regarding the acting, script, pacing, structure, direction…but those endings…

There is such a thing as being too stylish…and smoking too much s#*t.  If someone eased back on those two things, “Savages” may have been a very good movie, instead of just being okay.  At least I didn’t have to pay for seeing this movie (thanks, Library!).


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