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Gomorrah, Matteo Garrone (2008)

Hoo! I let this sit in my queue way too long. When’s the last time you saw a Cosa Nostra picture that didn’t feature a laundry list of cliches? Garrone, working off the best-selling book by Roberto Saviano, tells five distinct, occasionally overlapping stories of life under the Camorra, from small-time neighborhood hoods with delusions of grandeur to multi-million Euro syndicates dedicated to the expedient (and illegal) disposition of industrial waste. There’s some blood, but the movie’s delightfully free of the kind of swagger and celebration of violence in American mafia movies. Most of the people involved are involved because they’re trapped, bored, scared, resigned, stupid, or some combination of these. Ironically, the scenes of hopelessness played out in the courtyards of the housing projects can’t help but remind me of turn of the century American tenements and the organized crime that blossomed there. Old world or new world, past or future, bathtub gin or pirated DVDs, desperate people will always do desperate things.

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