Assuming that a hungry recruit can stomach the high mortality rate, there's a fair shake of upward mobility should he hand himself over to the Camorra -- a real-life criminal syndicate exposed in 2006 by hardcore journalist Roberto Saviano (now under 24 hour security for his commendable services) and adapted into a brittle and commanding film directed by Matteo Garrone.  Sure, you might get iced just after you've proven your loyalty by taking a slug in a bulletproof vest.  And there's little here to suggest an onset of casual Fridays, unless you're a starry-eyed teenager with Tony Montana aspirations who enjoys blowing up boats wearing nothing more than Fruit of the Loom.  In this onyx Neapolitan wasteland of bleak concrete, crumbling mortar, and leaky landscapes, vocational options are scarce.  But the Camorra have more duties than the UPS.  These Italian Dillingers are quite diligent in burying hazardous waste, watching over illicit sweatshops, and blowing away friendly neighbors when there's a bad family connection. 


Such moments are often bleaker than a Mike Leigh nightmare, but Gomorra's raw and unadulterated atmosphere serves as a tonic to Paul Muni wish fulfillment, presenting dead-eyed mercenaries who value the swift accumulation of Euros above all human virtue.  It's worth pointing out that Garrone is a particularly intense man in the accompanying behind-the-scenes documentary.  "All the takes shouldn't be alike," barks Garrone to his largely nonprofessional actors.  "Each take has its own story."  But the searing totality of Garrone's vision raises Italian neorealism from its postwar dust, beckoning a new gang of cinematic innovators.


April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.