Page 18 THE VILLADOM TIMES I, II & III • March 11, 2009 ‘Gomorrah’ is gritty look at Naples crime underbelly by Dennis Seuling “The Godfather” and its sequels put a gloss on crime for profit with its charismatic and even amusing characters who appeared far more organized, more focused, and more justice-oriented than the corrupt factions with whom they dealt. Because of the masterful crafting of these movies, and such cult favorites as “Scarface,” which glorify criminal violence, big-time criminals have taken on an aura -- at least on screen -- of larger-than-life superstars. Dispensing with this image entirely is the new Italian film, “Gomorrah,” which contains several stories and characters tied together by location. All take place in druginfested tenement ghettos of Naples and Caserta, where lookouts and dealers selling drugs openly on the prison-like walkways that intersect the claustrophobic apartments are as common sights as the laundry that hangs from clotheslines. A mafia-like organization known as the Camorra holds sway here, where police show up only when a body is reported. Director Matteo Garrone introduces the viewer to assorted dealings in this setting. A well-dressed man dispenses weekly cash stipends to elderly criminals. A sweat shop turns out designer fashion knockoffs. A young kid aspires to become part of the financially lucrative criminal ring. The son of an aging crime figure interns under a kingpin. Toxic waste is illegally dumped. A couple of brazen teenagers think they can outsmart the local crime boss and go into business themselves. The stories are interwoven so there is an ongoing portrait of how deeply crime has infiltrated and replaced normal life among the people in the tenements. The Camorra is to be feared far more than the police. Violence in “Gomorrah” is dispensed suddenly, without warning. In “The Godfather,” the violence is set up gradually and climaxes after a suspenseful buildup. Here, violence comes rapidly, often without the victims even knowing what is happening. And frequently, when it seems that a person is about to be killed, he is either beaten or threatened to keep him in line. When characters are killed, extras – not the film’s stars – do the dirty work. They do not wear custom-tailored suits and drive Cadillacs. The killers are often out of shape, wear shorts and flip-flops, and come out of nowhere on foot. The youngest character is 13-year-old Toto (Salvatore Abruzzese), a kid who has already started his career in crime as a drug carrier. His legitimate job as grocery delivery boy enables him to move freely through the drug lookouts and “soldiers” who keep day and night vigil on turf that they have virtually taken over. Several gripping scenes are shown through the eyes of Toto, who reacts with terror yet nonetheless wants to join the big guys and start raking in bigger rewards. Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato, center), Camorra accountant, looks on as police converge on the scene of a recent killing. The River Palm Terrace Steaks • Chops • Lobster • Seafood Join us for Now Introducing Our New Side Bar Menu Tuesday - Friday • 4:00 - 7:00 PM PRIME HOUSE Don Ciro (Gianfelice Imparato) is the accountant who doles out drug money to those Camorra who can no longer earn for themselves. When relative peace turns to bloodshed, he is caught in the middle of gang infighting and instead of making his rounds alone, is assigned heavily armed guards to accompany him. The most colorful characters in the film are Marco (Marco Macor) and Ciro (Ciro Petrone), both obsessed with the movie “Scarface,” who aspire to have that lifestyle: money, lavish surroundings, women, and endless drugs. Their cockiness and lack of respect for the local crime boss telegraph trouble. They dare to steal guns the Camorra has stashed away and their first impulse is to take the guns to a deserted beach and shoot them up in a frenzy of selfabsorbed exhilaration. They will learn they have underestimated the Camorra. The tone of the film is pessimistic. There is no ray of hope, and no indication that life can get better, or that it is possible to escape these surroundings for a better world. The people are trapped by poverty or drug dependency, and that is the strength of the Camorra. The unrated “Gomorrah” is gritty, raw, and grim. It is not a film for everyone, but it is well made and structured in such a way that the viewer sees just how crime can touch the meek, the ambitious, the poor, and the desperate. 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