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Rated NR · 137 minutes · 2009
Five stories about the Italian Camorra crime syndicate, drawn from the nonfiction book by Roberto Saviano, are interlaced, but not woven together, by director Matteo Garrone. The Camorra syndicate is the Neapolitan version of the Cosa Nostra, with their fingers in the businesses of drugs, toxic waste, smuggling and murder. Garrone’s film is a grotesquely dingy affair, kind of like a dirtier, more hopeless version of City of God, but featuring real, live Italians who run around in tiny European underpants shooting off AK-47s and handing out stacks of cash to undeserving and unhappy ghetto-dwellers. The whole thing is depressing, confusing and unpleasant, but in an artistically intentional manner. It might be hard to follow if you don’t have a background in organized crime or if you accidentally wandered in when you meant to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop, but Garrone’s off-putting style is not without merit. In some ways, he’s the Italian equivalent of director Michael Haneke (Funny Games, The Piano Teacher) in that he makes films that aren’t meant to be enjoyed so much as respected. So if that’s your thing, give it a go. If not, I’m pretty sure the Paul Blart sequel will at least be shown in nicely air-conditioned theaters.


See our full review: Grotesque Syndicate

Grotesque Syndicate

You'll learn a thing or two from this bleak, difficult movie about the other Italian mafia »

Director: Matteo Garrone
Writer: Maurizio Braucci, Ugo Chiti, Matteo Garrone and Gianni Di Gregorio
Producer: Domenico Procacci
Cast: Salvatore Abruzzese, Simone Sacchettino, Salvatore Ruocco, Vincenzo Fabricino, Vincenzo Altamura, Italo Renda, Gianfelice Imparato, Maria Nazionale and Salvatore Striano

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Portland Mercury Another Offer You Can't Refuse Gomorrah: What? There's organized crime in Italy? Why, I never.... by Erik Henriksen 02/26/2009

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