I hate to go an entire month without posting something informative, so I'll be putting down some thoughts about movies and television for the next couple of hours.
- Scarface: This is the story of a Cuban immigrant Tony Montana's rise from dishwasher to drug kingpin followed be a catastrophic collapse that destroys everything; this is one of my brother's favorite movies, and it is also enjoying a resurgent popularity, so I watched it again for the first time in years.
The first time around left me wondering about the exact cause of Tony's downfall. Was Tony suffering from some vague form of inner malaise a la Duke Leto Atreides from the book "Dune"? Or was it Tony's luxuries and wealth that made him forget the discipline and ruthlessness that he needed to survive as a kingpin? On a second viewing, the answer seems pretty clear to me: Tony's Bolivian cocaine contact Sosa basically pulls a South Florida guerilla army out of a hat. Granted, it's not quite that simple. One could argue that Tony Montana was going to be destroyed anyway by white America for challenging its criminal infrastructure. Alternatively, one could argue that Tony's version of thugocracy was simply no match for its far more devious and ruthless rival, American-style capitalism. Oliver Stone did write the screenplay after all.
I'd give Scarface one star out of two if I were doing a review. There's food for thought in Scarface, but I still see Tony's demise as too artificial for taste.
- Rome: HBO has a new series chronicling the lives of two Roman soldiers during the last days of the Roman Republic. The premiere episode was definately visually stunning; HBO actually filmed a "baptism of blood" ritual to underscore the pagan, non-Western religous influences in the Roman world. On the other hand, the premiere episode seems set remarkably too "late in the game" to make its full dramatic effect. For example, the Roman Senator Cato makes a speech in the Senate which obviously marks him as an important person, but we don't get a sense of why he is important or where his power comes from. Or maybe this is just the same "fog of war" that the Roman's themselves must have experienced at the time.