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  • Issue of
  • Feb 25 - Mar 3, 2009
  • Vol. 29, No. 20

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  • Fired Up!

    Sporting unruly blond curls (Willie Ames style!) is Eric Christian Olsen (as Nick), a smarmy twit whose high-powered camera mugging soon makes one long for the subtle understatement of Sean William Scott. In the Scott Baio role, Nicholas D’Agosto (Shawn) is a habitual snark factory, but comes off marginally better as he’s allowed to reveal something resembling human emotions. They plan to blow off high school football camp for two wonderful weeks of scamming all sorts of silly new strange by pulling from the larger talent pool at the statewide cheerleading camp, and then split before boredom or herpes set in. It’s a bummer then that Shawn fouls it up by actually falling for super-hottie Carly (Sarah Roemer).
  • Gomorrah

    Matteo Garrone’s riveting Gomorrah is a bleak pseudo-journalistic study of organized crime in Naples. Opening with an unexplained massacre at a tanning salon, Garrone’s film casually unspools five sordid stories of scams, thefts and killings perpetrated by the Camorra “System” in neo-reportage fashion. There’s Pasquale (Salvatore Cantalupo), a master tailor struggling to escape the mob’s sweatshop infiltration of haute couture, teen thugs Sweet Pea and Pitbull (Salvatore Ruocco and Vincenzo Fabricino), who have delusions of becoming local versions of Al Pacino’s Scarface, grocery delivery-boy Toto, who desperately wants to become a gangster, and Gaetano (Vincenzo Altamura), an aged bagman who’s decided to double-cross his mob bosses. Garrone takes a distanced widescreen approach, offering a glamourless view of thugs, con men and shady businessmen. His anger and outrage are subtext to the restrained perversions he depicts, inducing both revulsion and panic. But while Garrone’s impersonal take on the Camorra’s lurid workaday brutality is laudable for its defiance of liberal-humanist depictions of the criminal underclass, he fails to actually look at his subjects with any psychological or sociological depth.

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