Excellent Cadavers

Excellent Cadavers

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Every history book has a mundane chapter you don’t want to study that will still be covered on the final exam. Such is the slog of Marco Turco’s documentary adaptation of Alexander Stille’s book about the Sicilian mafia’s siege on the city of Palermo, not to be mistaken with the 1999 docudrama directed by Ricky Tognazzi and starring Chazz Palminteri as Giovanni Falcone, the Italian magistrate who vigilantly fought the mafia until his explosive assassination in 1992. Turco intercuts interviews with magistrates involved in the historic Max-Trials in Palermo with television footage from the era and gripping photos taken over the years by Sicilian photojournalist Letizia Battaglia, but this is less a documentary than a ceaseless barrage of names, dates, and incidents even a stenographer would have a hard time transcribing without losing his or her mind. The film has the scope of an unnecessarily prolonged, insufficiently emotionalized news report. Take, for example, the woman who describes Palermo as a “city of blood.” Her poetic wail should be resonant, but Turco fails to invoke the rich history of the city or explore the rationale for the mafia’s rise to power, leaving us with only a vague understanding of a city, and as such little compassion for its demise.

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DVD
Distributor
First Run/Icarus Films
Runtime
92 min
Rating
NR
Year
2005
Director
Marco Turco