Scarface: Limited Edition (Blu-ray + Digital)
SPECIAL FEATURES B+
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 7.5
(OUT OF 10)
The first time I heard Al Pacino's fake accent and watched his over-the-top performance here, I thought it was a bit much.
Now that it has spent nearly 30 years marinating, I have to say: Scarface is a sick blast.
Pacino, as most of us know, plays Tony Montana, a Cuban immigrant who just wants to tear shit up. His quick rise up the drug-kingpin ladder is epic, especially when things get so bad that he's snorting mountains of cocaine off of his desk without one of those cocaine straws or a dollar bill. He just sticks his whole face in there.
Brian De Palma cast the film with a lot of Italians, so that makes all of the "Cubans" pretty damn funny. (Robert Loggia? Really?) There's just a goofy feeling to all of the performances that make them hypnotic in a sad way.
De Palma goes crazy with the machine guns, knives and chainsaws. This film spews blood everywhere, and often.
Michelle Pfeiffer and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio do well as crazy ladies, and Steven Bauer rocks as Tony's right-hand man. F. Murray Abraham might actually be a funnier bit of casting than Loggia.
Oliver Stone wrote the screenplay, and came up with some cool angles on how an '80s Cuban immigrant could be royally pissed off. And he wrote the word "fuck" ... a lot.
Pacino breaks many performance rules in this one. I remember back in the day when critics panned him for overacting. Yes, he overacts for sure, but it is nothing short of a beautiful thing.
SPECIAL FEATURES: The picture on the new Blu-ray is glorious, and the sound probably caused my neighbors to make a few complaints to my apartment complex's office (thanks to a bunch of machine guns). It comes in a cool tin case with some collector's cards, and a Blu-ray exclusive look at the Scarface phenomenon with De Palma and many of the stars. You also get Scarface: The TV Version, which is hilarious, as well as deleted scenes and more.
Win Win (Blu-ray)
20TH CENTURY FOX
SPECIAL FEATURES B
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 7.75
(OUT OF 10)
I missed this one in theaters, and I'm sorry I did. Paul Giamatti is his usual great self as Mike Flaherty, a lawyer and part-time wrestling coach who gets a little of the unexpected when a gifted yet remarkably downbeat teenager named Kyle (Alex Shaffer) comes to him as the result of some shady client dealings.
Giamatti does a nice job of playing a good guy who does some wrong things. He also makes for a helluva wrestling coach. As for Shaffer, a real-life wrestling champion in 2010, he's impressive physically, as well as hilarious. He has a deadpan delivery that is funny.
Burt Young is offbeat, per usual, as a Giamatti client who is sort of getting used and doesn't really know it. Amy Ryan turns in another winning performance as Giamatti's wife, while Melanie Lynskey is appropriately unnerving as Kyle's needy mom. Bobby Cannavale and Jeffrey Tambor score points as Mike's assistant coaches.
This is a good family drama, with some surprisingly good wrestling sequences. Watching Shaffer in action is an amazing thing; in a first-time performance, he has already mastered the art of being droll. It's definitely one of the better film debuts in recent years.
Of course, the main reason to watch the movie is Giamatti. The man can do little wrong, and this is yet another performance for the ages from an actor with great tools.
SPECIAL FEATURES: You get a conversation with director Tom McCarthy; footage of Giamatti and McCarthy at Sundance; some deleted scenes; and a music video from The National.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark: Remastered Edition
SPECIAL FEATURES C+
DVD GEEK FACTOR 8.25
(OUT OF 10)
It was only a couple of years ago that I reviewed this little scary classic, but since the remake was just released (see Film Clips), and this is a slightly newer and spiffier DVD than the edition released in 2009, it makes sense to talk a bit about it.
For starters, this is a far superior film to the remake. The redo is a mixed bag, at best. For my money, there have been few things creepier in any horror film than the little dwarf demons that reside in the fireplace in the original. Kim Darby isn't the greatest of actresses, but she does a nice job of freaking out. And those voices are just scary.
SPECIAL FEATURES: The 2009 disc had no special features, but this one has an audio commentary with Steve "Uncle Creepy" Barton, screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick and journalist Sean Abley. This disc is a definite upgrade over the prior version.