A couple of weeks back, the movie Street Kings was released on DVD. It’s based on a story by James Ellroy, and is probably from the huge pile of ideas the movie industry hoovered up following the success of LA Confidential. And, TBH, anyone with a vague familiarity with Mr E’s work could have plotted it out themselves; damaged cop, drink problem, basically the commissioner’s pitbull – sent to o all the dirty jobs without regards to rules and regulations, something smells bad, deciet/betrayal/corruption. All the standard stuff.

And, it’s not bad. A good solid thriller with the odd nice set piece and a sheer blind belief that no-one saw the so-called twists coming from several miles off. But, the film is notable for two things: First a fantastically jowly perfomance from Keanu Reeves which serves to underline that he cannot act for toffee, but seriously has some sort of star quality that makes him terribly watchable, and concerns me that I might have a bit of a man-crush thing going on. (Some day I’ll have reason to rave about Johnny Mnemonic being one fo the great ‘lost’ sci-fi films.) And, secondly, that the treatment for this film would have remained mouldering in that pile of stories were it not for the success of the TV series The Shield. They’ve even roped Forest Whitacker in. Of course it’s all a bit chickeny-egg. When I finally got round to catching up on the series it struck me very much that Vic Mackey and chums could have been lifted from the pages of an early short-story.

What does all this have to do with Italian mafia movie Gomorrah, I hear you ask? Well, if Keanu gets to stomp about doing stuff ‘by his own rules’, with House too, on the back of The Shield then I can guarantee you that Matteo Garrone‘s film found itself not being relegated to the arthouse circuit becasue of it’s similarity to David Simon‘s (near offically ‘the greatest telly ever’ – did no-one else watch Homicide?) The Wire. Where the former pair are testosterone driven and near cartoonish (let it be noted this is not meant as a bad thing), the latter two are mired in the sheer harsh reality of life life on housing projects riddled with organised crime. Journalist Roberto Saviano has spent a large part of his life crusading against the Neapolitan crime ‘family’ the Camorra. So much so that he is now permanently accompanied by a police guard. This film is taken from his (factual) book of the same name.

The result is 135 minutes of the most staggering bleakness you’ll ever see. I loved it, but am certain I could well do without having to sit through it again for another decade or so.


Written by Tony Kiernan

28 November 2008 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Film

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