Digital: Cinema’s divisive Phoenix.

A big buzz in the film industry these days, mostly amongst critics and purists, is whether or not, in the age of Pixar and Avatar, traditional cinema still exists.  Does printing your shots on 35mm make them any different than a digital projection?  It enriches the colors, it enhances the experience, and, in my opinion, it limits the audience.  Sure, traditionalists may cry “Off with his head!” at anyone who dares suggest a movie can be enjoyed outside the confines of a movie theater.  However, it’s impractical.  Movie theaters enhance the experience, there’s not doubt about that, but it’s absurd to think a typical person not being shown the movies for free can afford to enjoy every film in a multiplex.  It’s also absurd to think they can’t still enjoy it at home.

Since the invention of such devices as the Beta, VHS, and DVD we’ve been trying to bring the theater experience into the living room, and we’ve gotten progressively better at it.  If you’ve got a dark room, a gigantic television and a Blu-ray player, you’ve almost effectively recreated the experience.

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Directed by: Matteo Garrone
Written by: Maurizio Braucci (screenplay),Roberto Saviano (book)
Starring: Toni Servillo, Marco Macor, Ciro Petrone, and Salvatore Abruzzese

I try not let the reputation of a movie influence me before I watch it, but in the case of Gomarrah, it’s hard not to.  Hailed by many critics as a new masterpiece in the gangster genre and presented by Martin Scorsese, Matteo Garrone’s film had a lot to live up to.  For many it seems to have done that, but as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t live up to the tremendous hype garnered by those accolades.  To be fair, though, it’s still an enjoyable film that deserves a viewing.

The explosive novel of the same name by Roberto Saviano tore open the modern world of organized crime in Naples, forcing the author to go into exile to escape the wrath of the Camorra crime syndicate.  In a book that was unafraid to name names even in the face of death, a Hollywood adaptation just wouldn’t seem right.

Mr. Garrone has given the film a perfect visual look, visceral and gritty with moments of cinematic eloquence.  We see a young boy (Salvatore Abruzzese) watch a man be hauled off by the authorities in almost documentary-realism.  Then the boy spots what the man claimed to not have, a gun and some narcotics.  He journeys to it, the camera giving a striking long shot that tracks him to the vices.  The shot makes the boy’s world look eloquent, like the gangster worlds created in movies like The Godfather and Scarface. We see the corruption of a soul, in two blending styles.

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