Face to Face
Scarface, directed by Brian de Palma from an Oliver Stone screenplay, is an unremarkable movie full of memorable moments, the kind that transform junk into jewel in the wide eyes of those who adore coke kingpin Tony Montana in spite of themselves. Those who adore it view it religiously, the way frat boys still gorge themselves on steady diets of Fletch and Animal House; so gargantuan is its reputation among the hip-hop community that in conjunction with a 20th anniversary special-edition DVD release, Def Jam's releasing a Music Inspired by the Motion Picture Scarface compilation, as inevitable as 100-degree heat during a Texas summer. White lines? Uh...don't do it? What ultimately makes Scarface an enduring work isn't its quality but its camp value--Al Pacino cutting and snorting the scenery, Michelle Pfeiffer slithering around the dance floor, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio giving it up to big bro, Steven Bauer moping off on the sidelines, Harris Yulin whoring himself out, Robert Loggia and F. Murray Abraham hanging on for dear life. The movie, overlong and overwrought, climaxes early with the chain saw massacre and descends into druggy despair; the final half plays like a hangover trying to reclaim its buzz but can't quite get its rocks off, not even when Pacino's bug-eyed Tony Montana introduces an army of assassins to his little friend.
Scarface, being released into theaters Friday, a week before the DVD arrives September 30, is further ruined by Stone's proselytizing script, which tries to have its coke and snort it, too; he revels in the gore and profanity, without which the movie might run 32 minutes, but repents for it by giving Tony the grizzly what-for and wiping out every other guilty and guilt-ridden sucker. It's like The Jerk made with accidental laughs, as Tony and Pfeiffer's Elvira realize way too late that getting everything you want--the jeweled mansion in the sky, the wild animals in the back yard, all the white powder you can cram up two nostrils--only ruins you in the end. Tony was just the kind of character Stone loved to hate, a Gordon Gekko ancestor with a Cuban-and-then-some accent proving greed's good so long as you don't wind up as a bloody stump in your resplendent foyer.
The movie survives today not as cautionary tale, not even as artifact of a debauched decade that employed the soulless synthesizers of soundtrack-maker Giorgio Moroder, but as laff-riot--a gold-plated, white-suited hint at the broad, strident caricature Pacino would become in the years after Scarface's release. Its most famous lines have become catchphrases ("All I have in this world is my balls and my word, and I don't break them for no one") and song lyrics ("Don't get high on your own supply") and punch lines ("This town is like a great big pussy just waiting to get fucked"); Pacino's accent, replete with mangs and motherfuckers, the repertoire of every two-bit impressionist working the brick-wall circuit. Still, I look forward to seeing it on the big screen--last time I tried, when I was 14, I missed half the movie. My dad had one hand shielding my eyes, another trying to cover both ears and all he could say, over and over again, was, "Jesus Christ, what have I done?" --Robert Wilonsky
Here's to beer
Have you ever wondered why Oktoberfest is in September? This question--like so many of life's mysteries--can be answered with beer. Back in the olden days, Germans would gather together to drink up the last of the summer's beer reserves in order to make room for the new stock that would be made after the harvest. The festivities took place from the last Saturday in September till the first Sunday in October. Thus, Oktoberfest. There you go. If you want to be a part of this Teutonic tradition, be sure to visit Addison's own Oktoberfest, September 18 through September 21, at Addison Circle Park. Admission is $5 for adults and children over 3. Call 1-800-ADDISON. --Mary Monigold
There's a reason Harlan Jacobson titled his film series Talk Cinema: People go to a movie then stick around to discuss it with a critic or professor leading the chitting and chatting. And not just any ol' movie, but a surprise, sneak peek at much-buzzed-about art-house fare; the series has included early looks at Far From Heaven, Talk to Her and American Splendor. The fall season kicks off at 7 p.m. September 25 at the Magnolia Theatre, 3699 McKinney Ave., and runs through December. Tickets are $20, or $120 for the season. Call 214-520-0025. --Robert Wilonsky
Drag queens and leather men and politicians, oh my! The early years of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade were truly a spectacle, with gaggles of drag queens, dykes on bikes, porn stars on floats and other semi-naked people running up and down Cedar Springs Road. Sadly, as the gay community has become more accepted, the parade has lost most of its edginess, and the crowd has had a hard time mustering cheers for politicians and beer trucks. But you should still show up for Sunday's 20th anniversary parade to cheer on the PFLAG parents. Plus, the Turtle Creek Chorale always comes up with something kitschy and original. It's Sunday at 1 p.m. along Cedar Springs between Wycliffe Avenue and Turtle Creek Boulevard. The closing rally is at 4 p.m. in Lee Park. Visit www.dallasprideparade.com. --Jay Webb
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