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Murder Italian Style: Gomorrah ****

There were probably a couple of ways writer/director Matteo Garrono could have gone in exposing the callous, murderous ways of Italy’s Camorra crime empire, but he chose to strip down the romanticism and lay bare the truth. The truth, as it turns out, is far less palatable than the myth of the “mafia” American culture has nurtured all these decades. We have become accustomed to seeing Italian organized crime as somehow quaint and Vito Corleone-like. There is a dramatic leap, though, between Vito and his son Michael, who takes the Corleone family in a different direction. Michael, if you remember, leaves Godfather II without a heart. He’s killed Fredo and exiled Kay. He is alone on a bench. Unfortunately, Francis Ford Coppola decided to bring the character back and return his heart to him, but the intent of this character was to show things changing, and not in a good way.But even the worst Michael Corleone could foist on humanity can’t hold a candle to what goes on in Gomorrah. Gomorrah is a fictionalized telling of what goes on every day in the regions of Naples and Caserta – men, women, even children are under the control of an empire that is so large, and has so many members across all walks of life (they’ve even bought shares in the rebuilding of the twin towers in New York City), they are virtually untouchable.Watching Gamorrah is like turning on the light in one of those dimly lit old school Italian restaurants, of the “spaghetti and meatballs variety.” You will never see it the same way again. The true stories of the mob in America, as seen on the History Channel and true crime exposes have nothing on this “fictional” account of the kinds of horrors transpire in and around Naples, Italy.There is no doubt that Gomorrah is a tough sit. It is painful to watch the senseless violence, and at times it feels almost pointless to see yet another bloody shooting until the film lays out the facts. one hundred fifty billion Euros raked in by the family empire in 2007 alone, over 4,000 people murdered in the past 30 years, the drugs and arms dealings, not to mention investments in legitimate businesses throughout the world. These are the things that make your jaw drop.The book’s author, Roberto Saviano, had gone deep under cover in writing about the Camorra crime empire and now is under 24-hour guard. Does this mean no major law enforcement has nailed Camorra to the wall? If nothing is done, if the citizens are still living under such an enormous threat, what is the purpose of making a film like Gomorrah in the first place? It isn’t an entertaining movie and it isn’t even one chosen for a foreign language Oscar (yet another embarrassing oversight). The film’s importance to us here in this country is at once to make us aware of just how deep into this WE are without knowing it, but also to keep our own obsession with and admiration of the mob in check; it is one thing to love Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola’s Italian/American version of organized crime, or to feel genuine love and affection for the Sopranos. It is quite another to acknowledge just what kind of god we’ve been worshipping.

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