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Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business: Screening the Italian Mafia in the New Millennium

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Unfinished Business
    Book Description:

    Unfinished Businessis the first book to examine Italian mafia cinema of the past decade.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6831-7
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: Trauma, Gender, and Recent Italian Mafia Cinema
    (pp. 3-20)

    Unfinished Business: Screening the Italian Mafia in the New Millenniumlooks at recent Italian Mafia cinema through the lens of gender and trauma theory. I am particularly interested in how representations of gender in these films dialogue with the unfinished or delayed process of grieving, mourning, and healing of Mafia-related trauma. The Italian Mafia is an ongoing, deadly, and national problem that, as of yet, cannot be classified as a cultural trauma precisely because of its seemingly endless nature. Furthermore, the Mafia is considered a ʺmen only society,ʺ but women are a constant presence in, around, and against it.¹ Essentially,...

  5. 1 Oedipal Conflicts in Marco Tullio Giordanaʹs I cento passi
    (pp. 21-35)

    Marco Tullio GiordanaʹsI cento passi(The Hundred Steps, 2000) is often discussed as the anti-Mafia martyr movie par excellence. The film, based on a true story, chronicles the life and death of passionate activist Giuseppe (Peppino) Impastato, born in Cinisi in 1948 into a family with ties to Cosa Nostra. His father Luigi Impastato was a small business owner indebted to Cinisi capomafia Gaetano Badalamenti and his uncle Cesare Manzella was a Mafia boss, murdered in a clan war in 1963. On 9 May 1978, Impastato was assassinated by Badalamentiʹs men, beaten to death and then blown up on...

  6. 2 Honour, Shame, and Vendetta: Pasquale Scimecaʹs Placido Rizzotto
    (pp. 36-50)

    Just some years ago, the town of Corleone engaged in a process of reinvention focusing on Mafia tourism and a proposed name change to ʺCuor di Leone.ʺ Pasquale Scimecaʹs filmPlacido Rizzotto(2000) marks an important turn in this process: the eponymous characterʹs martyrdom opens the doors for new advertising opportunities. It is now possible to buy products such as pasta or wine from the anti-Mafia association Libera Terra that promise ʺthe taste of legality.ʺ The Placido Rizzotto cooperative owns and operates the popular Agriturismo ʺPortella della Ginestra,ʺ which was the summer residence of notorious Don Giovanni Brusca (made famous...

  7. 3 Mafia Woman in a Manʹs World: Roberta Torreʹs Angela
    (pp. 51-64)

    Roberta Torreʹs filmAngelafrom 2002 is unique in its focus on adonna di mafia. The title, appearing moments into the film and followed by the line ʺbased on a true story,ʺ refers to the eponymous protagonist and sets the stage for an in-depth look inside the Mafia, supposedly from the point of view of one of its women. A subtitle conveys that the film is set in 1984 in Palermo, during a period of intense Mafia activity in the capital.¹ In its interest in truth value, Torreʹs film is in line with other Mafia movies from the new...

  8. 4 The Mafia Noir: Paolo Sorrentinoʹs Le conseguenze dellʹamore
    (pp. 65-79)

    The vast majority of reviews and scholarship devoted to Paolo SorrentinoʹsLe conseguenze dellʹamore(The Consequences of Love) from 2004 discuss the filmʹs noirish and neo-noirish elements.¹ The film, which takes place primarily in the contained world of a nondescript hotel in Lugano, Switzerland, follows the daily routine of Titta Di Girolamo, a former investment banker who lost 220 billion euros of Cosa Nostraʹs monies in a venture gone awry. As punishment, he is exiled from Italy and forced to live a solitary existence as an errand boy delivering several million dollars of Mafia money to a Swiss bank once...

  9. 5 Men of Honour, Man of Glass: Stefano Incertiʹs Lʹuomo di vetro
    (pp. 80-98)

    In 1984, Tommaso Buscetta brokeomertàand began collaborating with the Italian justice system, divulging to the authorities the inner workings of the Mafia. He revealed to Giovanni Falcone Cosa Nostraʹs hierarchy, its methods of operation and codes of conduct, and identified numerous key players in the organization. As a result, hundreds of arrest warrants were issued which led to the conviction of 342 Mafiosi at the Maxi-trial of 1987.¹ Another consequence of the ʺBuscetta theoremʺ was the murder of Leonardo Vitale on 2 December 1984. Vitale was gunned down in broad daylight in the city of Palermo while returning...

  10. 6 The Female Mob Boss: Edoardo Winspeareʹs Galantuomini
    (pp. 99-115)

    The title of Edoardo Winspeareʹs filmGalantuominifrom 2008 translates most commonly as ʺgentlemen,ʺ but other acceptable renderings are ʺhonest men,ʺ ʺmen of their word,ʺ or ʺmen of honourʺ – a translation with a specific Mafia referent – although the filmʹs festival title in the United States and in Australia wasBrave Men.¹ Thus, the title announces an interest in exploring the psychology of ʺmen of characterʺ within a Mafia context.² Instead, as becomes apparent moments into the film, the viewer is not positioned to identify with a male anti-Mafia prosecutor or a Mafioso, but with Lucia Rizzo, a woman...

  11. 7 Melancholia and the Mob Weepie: Davide Barletti and Lorenzo Conteʹs Fine pena mai: Paradiso perduto
    (pp. 116-133)

    Davide Barletti and Lorenzo Conteʹs filmFine pena mai: Paradiso perduto(Life Sentence: Paradise Lost, 2008) begins in the dark. We first see a prologue including text that details the Italian stateʹs swift and aggressive response to the murders of Falcone and Borsellino in 1992. After the Mafiaʹs attack on the ʺcore of the state,ʺ the government decreed a ʺhard prison regime,ʺ entitled ʺ41bis,ʺ and reopened the high security prisons on the islands of Pianosa and Asinara, where 250 of the most dangerous bosses of the Cosa Nostra, the Camorra, the ʹNdrangheta, and the Sacra Corona Unita were placed in...

  12. 8 Mourning Disavowed: Matteo Garroneʹs Gomorra
    (pp. 134-149)

    Matteo Garroneʹs internationally acclaimed hitGomorra(2008) signals a new direction in Italian Mafia movies, in terms of both generic approach and style.Gomorrais unlike most other Mafia movies from the new millennium that frequently conform to the genre of melodrama, broadly considered. Instead,Gomorrapresents an ʺanthropological gazeʺ¹ at mob life. The filmʹs rough and crude exposé of the Camorraʹs violent underworld in and around Neopolitan clan strongholds of Scampia and Secondagliano departs from Roberto Savianoʹs best-selling and eponymous book from 2006, which sold more than ten million copies worldwide and has been translated into over fifty languages....

  13. 9 Recasting Rita Atria in Marco Amentaʹs La siciliana ribelle
    (pp. 150-164)

    For many, the name Rita Atria is synonymous with the womenʹs anti-Mafia movement in Italy.¹ Atria was born into a family of Mafiosi in Partanna, Sicily, and after her father Vito Atria and her brother Nicola Atria were murdered by rival clans in 1985 and 1991, respectively, she followed the example of her sister-in-law Piera Aiello and became a collaborator of justice. As her life was in jeopardy, Atria was transferred to Rome, where she lived under police protection as she worked with the authorities, in particular with Paolo Borsellino, until his assassination on 19 July 1992. Precisely one week...

  14. 10 Trauma Postponed: Claudio Cupelliniʹs Una vita tranquilla
    (pp. 165-180)

    Towards the end of Claudio CupelliniʹsUna vita tranquilla(A Quiet Life, 2010), protagonist Rosario Russo gives his estranged son Diego specific instructions on how to achieve the requisite ʺquiet lifeʺ of the filmʹs title:

    Tomorrow leave for Hamburg. Find Sergio at the restaurant called ʺCavallino Bianco,ʺ Iʹll let him know you are coming. Tell him that you need a job and a new identification card. Never call anyone, and if I have to talk to you, Iʹll call you. Then throw away your cell phone, stay in Hamburg for a year. Shave your beard, let your hair grow, learn...

  15. Epilogue: Why Must Caesar Die?
    (pp. 181-190)

    I started this study by suggesting that the ongoing and apparently unending nature of the Italian Mafia hinders the extent to which it can be considered a cultural trauma as is the period of terrorism in Italy known as the ʺleaden years.ʺ I noted that Italian cinema in the new millennium has witnessed a remarkable outpouring of feature films with a Mafia focus (I count thirty-five films released since the year 2000), the vast majority of which somewhat follow the generic conventions of melodrama (including the womanʹs film and male melodrama) and the film noir. I set out to study...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 191-222)
  17. Works Cited
    (pp. 223-244)
  18. Index
    (pp. 245-256)