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Scarface
Film

Scarface

Brian De Palma’s Scarface is like an inverse Godfather. The movie is semi-epic – a dry cartoon of the American dream gone numb. But (and this may stem from the nature of the gangsters involved), it lacks the broad elegance of Coppola’s auspicious rendering of Mario Puzo’s potboiler. And the original Scarface (1932, dir. Howard Hawks) is much more efficient, … Continue reading

The Black Dahlia
Film

The Black Dahlia

Miscast, and not at all curious about its characters. James Ellroy (who wrote the novel) and De Palma are simpatico. They are stylists to the bone. Ellroy got the L.A. vibe just right, how the Black Dahlia murder seeped into the sun-drenched morass from which it burped. The movie uses her death to shock the … Continue reading

Sunflower
Music

Sunflower

Yes, I shelled out for The Smile Sessions (2011). And I rate it as highly as I do the 2004 version. Here’s the rub: Like Sgt. Pepper, that other beast from the summer of love, Smile (1966-67) is a bit precious. It works, in part, because it’s unfinished. The roughness fascinates. In his quest to best himself and his musical … Continue reading