Combustible Celluloid
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With: Salvatore Abruzzese, Simone Sacchettino, Salvatore Ruocco, Vincenzo Fabricino, Vincenzo Altamura, Italo Renda, Gianfelice Imparato, Maria Nazionale, Salvatore Striano, Carlo Del Sorbo, Vincenzo Bombolo, Toni Servillo, Carmine Paternoster, Alfonso Santagata, Massimo Emilio Gobbi, Salvatore Caruso, Italo Celoro, Salvatore Cantalupo, Gigio Morra, Ronghua Zhang, Manuela Lo Sicco, Marco Macor, Ciro Petrone, Giovanni Venosa, Vittorio Russo, Bernardino Terracciano
Written by: Maurizio Braucci, Ugo Chiti, Gianni Di Gregorio, Matteo Garrone, Massimo Gaudioso, Roberto Saviano
Directed by: Matteo Garrone
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: Italian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 137
Date: 15/05/2008

Gomorrah (2008)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Mob Story

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Gomorrah: The Criterion Collection on DVD

Here's an epic Italian gangster film that seems unconcerned with paying homage to Coppola, Scorsese, Leone or Tarantino. Rather, it's more interested in looking forward and generating thoughtful rhythms and spaces. Gomorrah centers on a handful of characters in Naples, ranging from green youngsters to burned-out middle-aged fellows. A grocery delivery boy, tired of waiting for the local gang to notice him, decides to join the rival gang instead. Two teenagers are also eager for a more glamorous life, and steal a stash of guns as a ticket to thrillsville. (A scene of them in their underwear firing the powerful weapons is the movie's most indelible image.) A man working in the shady garment industry lends his skills to some Chinese rivals, bringing unforeseen trouble upon himself. An assistant in the waste-disposal industry sees more than he ever bargained for. And a bag man who delivers payouts grows tired of demands for more. Director Matteo Garrone (The Embalmer) finds a casual, stone-faced, almost neo-realist pace for all this, casually flipping back and forth between storylines, and making brilliant use of seemingly endless array of run-down and abandoned buildings and spaces (with all their jagged shadows). It's so matter-of-fact that it often requires strict attention to follow all the storylines, though by the end, experienced viewers will be able to guess the endings to some of the tales. It's based on a book by journalist Roberto Saviano. (The title is sometimes spelled as Gomorra.)

DVD Details: The two-disc DVD set from the Criterion Collection comes with a good, hour-long making-of documentary. There's a 22-minute interview with the director, and a 13-minute interview with Toni Servillo, and a long interview with original author Roberto Saviano. There's a short feature with several of the actors, 13 minutes of deleted scenes, and a trailer. The great film critic Chuck Stephens provides the liner notes. Also available on Blu-Ray.

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