Lordura di Napoli

Gomorrah by the Italian director, Matteo Garrone, is a thrilling evisceration of the Camorra, the criminal organization that, like the better-known Mafia in Sicily, has ruled for centuries in southern Italy from its headquarters in Naples. Unlike the Mafia, the Camorra does not commit high-profile assassinations such as those exposed in Mario Turco’s 2005 Excellent Cadavers. Rather more discreetly, the Camorra concentrates on murders of the poor, drug distribution, toxic-waste disposal and fashion design. To quote Roberto Saviano, author of the book on which Gomorrah is based – he was once a Camorrista himself and also co-wrote the screenplay:

“In Europe the Camorra has killed more people than any other criminal organization. 4,000 deaths in the last 30 years. Once every three days. Scampia [the hellish Naples suburb where much of the movie was shot] is the largest open-air drug market in the world. Daily sales per clan run about 500,000 euros. If clan-managed toxic waste were piled up, it would reach 47,900 feet. Mount Everest is 29,000 feet high. Cancer rates have increased 20 per cent in the poisoned areas. Profits for illegal activities are reinvested in legal activities worldwide. The Camorra has invested in the reconstruction of the Twin Towers.”

The actors, some professional, many not, are uniformly excellent. The poor, sad, hopeless locations – indelible in scope and detail and color, particularly the aforementioned Scampia – are beautifully photographed by Marco Onorato.  Included in the bonus materials, for which The Criterion Collection is renowned, Garrone, in an hour-long interview, is extremely entertaining about helpful Camorristi showing just where you stand when blowing a victim away, as well as about how concerned the thugs were with how they looked on screen. In another interview, Saviano tells of the influence of movies like The Godfather (of course) and Brian De Palma’s Scarface.
Believe me, after so much reality diversions like these are welcome.

2 Discs, Italy, 2008, in Italian with English subtitles, 137 minutes, The Criterion Collection, SRP $39.95

? ? ?

Here is a random listing of some of my favorite DVDs of the year.
Far and the way most entertaining is I Served the King of England by the Czech director Jirí Menzel, the 26th of this great artist’s films, best known in this country for his 1966 Closely Watched Trains. A joyous overview of the sophisticated history of the Czech Republic told through the eyes of a diminutive waiter whose fortunes rise and fall and rise and fall just like those of his native land. As the hero declares, “My luck was always to have bad luck.” From a book by Bohumil Hrabal, Menzel’s frequent collaborator.  (Sony Pictures)

Dusan Makavejev: Free Radical. Three satires of life in the former Yugoslavia, made in the 1960s, early in this master’s career. These are tragic comedies and each is well worth watching. My favorite is Love Affair, Or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator, but why not watch them all. (The Criterion Collection)

Prima Ballerina. Two excellent short documentaries by Laurent Gentot, one on Svetlana Zakharova of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, the other on Ulyana Lopatkina of the Marinsky Theater in Saint Petersburg. The first dancer is an embodiment of the title, the second an embodiment of dance. (First Run Features)

Il Generale Della Rovere by Roberto Rossellini, reviewed in these pages http://www.counterpunch.com/sonnenberg06192009.html.

Ballast by Lance Hammer, also reviewed here https://www.counterpunch.org/sonnenberg05222009.html.

O’Horten by Bent Hamer, ditto https://www.counterpunch.org/sonnenberg11202009.html.

Faat Kiné by Ousmane Sembene, dittohttps://www.counterpunch.org/sonnenberg07172009.html.

The Exterminating Angel by Luis Buñuel, ditto https://www.counterpunch.org/sonnenberg03062009html.

Simon of the Desert by Luis Buñuel, ditto  http://www.counterpunch.com/sonnenberg03272009.html.

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, by Chantal Akerman, https://www.counterpunch.org/sonnenberg09042009.html.

Last Year At Marienbad by Alain Resnais, https://www.counterpunch.org/sonnenberg09042009.html.

Finally, with apologies to my readers for not giving it the attention it deserves: Do the Right Thing 20th anniversary edition. Spike Lee’s breakthrough film, with 4 hours of bonus material.  (Universal)

BEN SONNENBERG is the author of Lost Property: Memoirs & Confessions of a Bad Boy, and the founder of Grand Street. He can be reached at harapos@panix.com.


More articles by:

BEN SONNENBERG is the author of Lost Property: Memoirs & Confessions of a Bad Boy, and the founder/editor of Grand Street. He can be reached at harapos@panix.com.

September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of Language in the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior