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Wadrick's Celluloid Dungeon

The Bear (1988) • Fat Man and Little Boy (1989) • Scarface (1983)

bear_rateThe Bear (1988) Poster Art
The Bear (1988)
Tcheky Karyo, Jack Wallace, Andre Lacombe, Bart the Kodiac Bear, Youk the Bear Cub.
Written by Gerard Brach.
Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud.

A bear cub is made an orphan after its mother is killed. Setting off into the wilderness, the young bear befriends a huge, wounded male that is being tracked by hunters. And that’s basically the story extent of this riveting, wonderfully shot film set in British Columbia at the end of the 19th century. It was once a popular phrase in Hollywood to “never work with children or animals”, yet any complications that may have arisen on The Bear are never evident. The film is seamlessly executed, combining the most astounding animal ‘acting’ ever seen on screen with absolutely first class cinematography from Philippe Rousselot. The human characters have little dialogue, and necessarily take a backseat to the animals – they could even be considered underwritten and at times suffer from some poor dubbing. But this is never a consideration once the viewer is captured by the spell of this truly timeless film that should not be thought of as a ‘childrens movie’. And I guarantee it’s the only film in which you’ll ever see a bear tripped out on mushrooms. A personal favourite.

Fat Man and Little Boy (1989) Poster Art
Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)
Paul Newman, Dwight Schultz, John Cusack, John C. McGinley, Laura Dern and Bonnie Bedelia.
Written by Roland Joffe & Bruce Robinson.
Directed by Roland Joffe.

Roland Joffe is not a filmmaker I particularly admire. Whilst his career has been peppered with excellent films such as The Killing Fields and The Mission, his style often creates a dull visual experience, only lifted by the work of his cast. Fat Man and Little Boy is no exception, at times lacking the motion that elevates a drama and saves it from being (for want of a better word) “stagey”. Fat Man tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Schultz) and the team assembled by General Groves (Newman) to devise and construct the atomic bomb. Dealing with the inherent crisis of conscience, the brilliant team overcome obstacles aplenty in their road to creating a heinous device that would hopefully (and naively) bring an end to the idea of war. It is an interesting and compelling story, brought to life by an excellent cast, led by the great Paul Newman and ably supported by Schultz and Cusack. The film fails in many respects, but those unfamiliar with the Manhattan Project will find much worth in Fat Man and Little Boy – others may be discouraged by its distinctly Hollywood telling.

Scarface (1983) Poster Art
Scarface (1983)
Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia, Harris Yulin and F. Murray Abraham.
Written by Oliver Stone.
Directed by Brian De Palma.

Tony Montana (Pacino) arrives in Miami as part of the Mariel Boatlift, when Castro opened the gates of Mariel Harbor and let over 100,000 Cubans immigrate to the USA. Like many, he is a criminal, and soon ingratiates himself into the underworld of Florida, eventually flourishing through bloodshed to be the king of cocaine. Despite a grandiose performance from Pacino, this turgid mess is unrelentingly oppressive from the get-go. Sleazy and brutal, Scarface is one of the overrated director De Palma’s lowest moments. The absolutely seedy underbelly of Miami is brought to the screen in vivid detail by the production department, but it seems that screenwriter Stone couldn’t edit his own material or even know when the hell to quit. The film itself has been glorified into a cult phenomenon on no solid basis aside from its graphic violence and nihilism – transforming the character of Tony Montana into an iconic figure. I don’t think that was the point…


Wadrick Jones' Film Rating Chart.

(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)


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  1. I love Scarface. Al Pacino is awesome.
    I really loved that Alaska movie he did also, and of course the Godfather movies. ” I keep tryin to get out,……..but they keeep Puuuling me back in!!!”

    Posted by Shea | February 10, 2009, 5:18 pm
  2. How can you say that Scarface is garbage?

    Posted by Shea | February 10, 2009, 5:19 pm
  3. To Shea – Hah! I thought there would be a voice (or more) of opposition to what Wadrick had to say about Scarface!!

    I haven’t even seen the movie (only snippets)… is that worse?
    And I haven’t watched all of the Godfather movies either – first one is great. 😛

    Insomnia (Alaska movie) was an interesting movie… I’ve seen that one! And while we’re talking Pacino movies – what do you think of Heat? Nothing bad can be said about that film?! Can it Wadrick? 😉

    To Wadrick – I LOVE The Bear! It took Dave forever to get me to sit down and watch it. Now, I don’t know why I resisted!

    Posted by Manz | February 10, 2009, 5:50 pm
  4. your an odd man wad.

    Posted by deryke | February 10, 2009, 6:20 pm
  5. Last week it was Face/Off, this week it is Scarface…

    I knew I’d get some backlash for this…

    Shea – yes, Pacino is awesome, and he is great in Scarface…but the film does absolutely nothing for me…I find it hard to root for bad guys that are so despicable…

    As a film, Scarface is awful…it goes on far too long and offers the audience nothing for it’s trouble…it’s depressing, it’s oppressive, it’s poorly made…

    I dig the Godfather films (especially Part 2), and I do enjoy crime films (see GoodFellas review last week) – but I’ve given Scarface enough chances over the years to impress me, and it has failed everytime…it’s ugly to look at and listen to….

    Manz – Heat is a classic.

    Deryke – I’ll take that as a compliment.

    See ya later all.

    Posted by Wadrick Jones | February 10, 2009, 7:06 pm
  6. The Bear, that’s classic! Y’know, I’ve never seen it, but damn, I remember seeing the trailer countless times back in the day…and yeah, it looked mega cute.

    Sounds like a mad movie. I’ll see if I can find it up the local vid store. Sounds like a great (if slightly antithetical) companion film to Grizzly Man. I bet it was Timothy Treadwell’s favourite movie…

    Great reviews (again) Wadrick…

    Posted by Decoy Spoon | February 10, 2009, 8:26 pm
  7. Or maybe a companion to Grizzly Adams…

    Funny story, Decoy – I first saw The Bear at the cinema when we were in Year 10 of high school…I seem to recall you were with the rest of the gang on some student trip to the city (to the art gallery perhaps), and I took the day off to go and see The Bear (as was my MO in those days)…I also remember being served some shit for seeing it…

    It’s never lost its power over me…I pulled it off the shelf here recently and I gotta tell ya, it’ll always be with me…

    Posted by Wadrick Jones | February 10, 2009, 9:22 pm
  8. Wadrick – Hehe, Classic! That sounds about right. (Apologies if I served you any.) The prerequisite was Bruce Willis and/or zombies for a film to be ‘cool’.

    Still man, what was I thinking(?!), I shoulda been taking the day off with you man. Oh well, when they discover time travel…then we’ll go back and take the whole 6 years of High School off.

    (I can recall us ditching school to go see Heathers and Wild At Heart…great times 😉

    Posted by Decoy Spoon | February 10, 2009, 10:12 pm
  9. Finally, someone has told the truth about Scarface.
    Ballsy work there Wadrick.

    I love The Bear too…but it would have been better if Bruce Willis was in the bear suit and fought off a horde of zombies.

    ..or maybe if Bruce just fought a bunch of zombie-bears..

    Posted by iseefilms | February 11, 2009, 6:50 pm
  10. Finally someone who shares my dislike of Scarface…I am not alone!!!
    Cheers Faystar (iseefilms)….

    Decoy – time travel….forget High School – we’ll go back even further, steal all the Beatles songs for our own and become incredibly wealthy….

    Posted by Wadrick Jones | February 11, 2009, 7:05 pm
  11. ok, ok, ok, ….


    the apocalypse MUST be coming.

    gird your loins. if you still have any.

    Posted by deryke | February 11, 2009, 8:35 pm
  12. Wadrick – Alright, so it’ll just be us and the 5 million other Beatles bands in a constant race back to the dawn of time playing gigs for the cave-people…ok, sounds like fun 😉

    “Thank you, you’ve been a great audience…this is our last song…”


    “One two three four – She loves you, yeah yeah yeah…”


    Posted by Decoy Spoon | February 11, 2009, 9:05 pm
  13. Wadrick
    yeah, it does go on for a long time, but Al Pacino’s performance just makes that movie. It’s a classic.
    I’m a big fan of Luke and also Owen Wilson. Last night I watched a movie with Luke Wilson, Jack black, Britney Murphy, she’s so cute always, and Andy Dick called Bong Water. I’d never heard of it. I liked it. Weird and funny. What do you think? And am also big fan of Juaquin phoenix, what’s up with him lately? He looks like Jim Morrison did when he grew the beard.
    I don’t think I’ve seen heat. Cool that you’be seen insomnia. I don’t think a lot have. I can relate to the geography pretty well, although I’ve never been to that specific area.

    Posted by Shea | February 12, 2009, 11:11 pm
  14. Scarface!! Really? That movie is a classic. It’s a pure adreneline power struggle crazy movie! It’s a movie about seeing what the other guy is up and stomping him before he gets you, what is more interesting? and imagine the implications if that movie spilled into your own life, it would be absolute chaos! Plus it feels like it could almost have happened. I think a lot of people look up to scarface/Pacino in that movie despite all his flaws. Interesting pic to go against, I wonder if you are playing the devil’s advocate here Wadrick.

    I am the kind of person that falls asleep during movies like the Bear, haah. But one of my favorite recent wildlife movies was Grizzly Man. I identify with the guy, Timothy Treadwell, in his quest for meaning.

    Posted by Bill Donovan | February 13, 2009, 12:09 pm
  15. Shea and Bill – that’s all good and well about Scarface, but as a film, as a ‘work of art’, it stinks…(in my opinion)…
    The film also makes its points early, and then proceeds to ram them down your throat for another two and a half hours…what’s to like about that?

    Stone had just beaten his own coke habit when he wrote the screenplay – I really don’t think he intended for Tony Montana to become an icon…(although, I could be wrong about that…)

    Anyway…as for The Bear, Bill – don’t knock it if you haven’t seen it…or, don’t judge a film by its synopsis…(although, that’s not really good advice….)

    Shea – I liked Insomnia too…one of the better Hollywood remakes of a foreign film…but dude, you should definitely see Heat…!!

    And don’t get me wrong here, fellas…I’m a huge fan of Pacino, and I think his performance in Scarface is one of his best characterizations – up there with Sonny in Dog Day Afternoon and even Satan himself in Devil’s Advocate 😉
    It’s not Pacino I have the problem with – it’s Scarface the film that I have a problem with.

    And I’ll tell ya – the same themes were explored recently in There Will Be Blood….
    Now that’s a f@#king great movie!

    Posted by Wadrick Jones | February 13, 2009, 10:08 pm
  16. Hey Wadrick,

    I have tried to watch the Bear, just fell asleep. About the third Bear roar and it’s lights out. haha.

    Maybe I am not enough of a connieseur to understand your point about Scarface not being a good movie, I liked watching it. I am sort of the unwashed masses when it comes to movies.

    I loved There Will Be Blood: when you have a milkshake… that scene was the best.

    There’s a Charles Bukowski poem this discussion reminds me of, “The Worst and The Best”

    in the hospitals and jails
    it’s the worst
    in madhouses
    it’s the worst
    in penthouses
    it’s the worst
    in skid row flophouses
    it’s the worst
    at poetry readings
    at rock concerts
    at benefits for the disabled
    it’s the worst
    at funerals
    at weddings
    it’s the worst
    at parades
    at skating rinks
    at sexual orgies
    it’s the worst
    at midnight
    at 3 a.m.
    at 5:45 p.m.
    it’s the worst
    falling through the sky
    firing squads
    that’s the best
    thinking of India
    looking at popcorn stands
    watching the bull get the matador
    that’s the best
    boxed lightbulbs
    an old dog scratching
    peanuts in a celluloid bag
    that’s the best
    spraying roaches
    a clean pair of stockings
    natural guts defeating natural talent
    that’s the best
    in front of firing squads
    throwing crusts to seagulls
    slicing tomatoes
    that’s the best
    rugs with cigarette burns
    cracks in sidewalks
    waitresses still sane
    that’s the best

    my hands dead
    my heart dead
    adagio of rocks
    the world ablaze
    that’s the best
    for me.

    Posted by Bill Donovan | February 13, 2009, 10:23 pm
  17. I’ll never argue with Bukowski…

    And that’s what it’s all about, man…it’s not necessarily about being a connoisseur, it’s just about what does it for ya…

    There are plenty of films I would consider, as a connoisseur, to be poor films…but I derive pleasure from them regardless – it may be some miniscule aspect of the film that touches some nerve – something sadistic, something funny only to me, something that I see that no one else gets – whatever…

    Bukowski wrote it perfectly…

    Posted by Wadrick Jones | February 13, 2009, 10:52 pm
  18. What a great poem…haven’t read that for years. Nice work Mr Donovan…and Mr Bukowski.

    One last thing on Scarface..that movie can be judged in two parts, one on Pacino’s performance and two on the actual movie.

    I think we all agree Pacino was amazing…but looking past that performance, the movie is one of the most overrated of all time.

    …in my opinion.

    Posted by iseefilms | February 14, 2009, 2:52 pm

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