Napoli Napoli Napoli (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 22, 2016 by  

Abel Ferrara’s “Napoli Napoli Napoli” is a hybrid documentary that goes far to show the negative aspects of life in Naples and how several people were affected with the problems of their municipality.  But also featuring fictional storylines of crime and survival.  An audacious film  that strays from having any blaance and gives viewers an unforgiving look at Naples.

Images courtesy of © Rarovideo 2016. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Napoli Napoli Napoli (Naples Naples Naples)


DURATION: 106 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, (1:85:1), Italian 2.0 DTS, Subtitles in English

COMPANY: Raro Video

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: July 12, 2016

Directed by Anbel Ferrara

Written by Peppe Lanzetta, Maurizio Braucci, Gatano di Vaio, Abel Ferrara

Collaboration on Screenplay by Maria Grazia Capaldo

Produced by Pier Francesco Aiello, Massimo Cortesi, Gianluca Curti, Gaetano di Vaio, Luca Liguori

Associate Producer: Fabio Gargano, Pietro Pizzimento

Cinematography by Alessandro Abate

Edited by Fabio Nunziata

Production Design by Frank DeCurtis

Art Direction by Peppe Cerillo


Lucy Lionello as Sebastiano

Salvatore Ruocco as Franco

Benedito Sicca as Carmine

Salvatore Striano as Gennaro

Ernesto Mahieux as Celestino

Shanyn Leigh as Lucia

Peppe Lanzetta as Padre di Lucia

Anita Pallenberg as Madre di Lucia

Giovanni Capalbo as Tic Tac, secondino

With his crooked face and rough demeanor Abel Ferrara looks and acts like he could have been born in Naples, Italy, the subject and location of his raw and hyperreality film Naples Naples Naples. Inspired by real events, this docudrama, narrated by the director, depicts a young woman metaphysically lost in the passionate and vibrant streets of Naples. Ferarra takes the viewer through the neighborhoods and parks of Naples while starkly showing the division between the classes. The undercurrent of characters associated with a women s prison penetrate the narrative with a message of injustice and despair. though criticized by some for its harsh representation of the city, the outcome is a portrayal of a city that no one has yet figured out, and that so many love, but also criticize; a city that has much to discover, but can never be known well enough. Ferarra depicts Naples through the words of the excluded and marginalized, portraying the chaotic mosaic of the Neapolitan universe with lucidity and love, characteristics that only he knows how to express with such intensity and immediacy.

Naples, the capital of the Italian region of Campania and the third largest municipality in Italy after Rome and Milan.

While historically, Naples is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world and was once a cultural center for the Roman Republic long ago.  Despite having the fourth-largest urban economy in Italy after Milan, Rome and Turin and also is the birthplace of the original Neopolitan pizza, the city suffers from political and economic corruption and high unemployment.

Aside from the city being controlled by the stronghold of the Camorra – the local mafia, the city has been a dumping ground for toxic waste, garbage litters the streets, the main highway in the Mezzogiorno region is in horrible shape, a lot of fights and robberies happen in the city and it’s also one of the poorest cities in Europe.

But how bad is it?

In 2009, filmmaker Abel Ferrara’s (“The Funeral”, “Body Snatchers”, “King of New York”, “Bad Lieutenant”) documentary, “Napoli Napoli Napoli” would examine how bad things are within the cities in Naples.

And the documentary was released on Blu-ray courtesy of Raro Video.

Abel Ferrara’s “Napoli Napoli Napoli” is a documentary that interviews female and youth inmates about how they got in trouble and are serving time and how their city and living conditions led them to a life of crime.

The documentary interviews community leaders, journalists, lawyers and others who discuss the problems in Naples and various areas, the poor living conditions and lack of employment and how life is in the area.

Meanwhile, to add to the documentary are fictional storylines which were co-written by Abel Ferrara, Peppe Lanzetta (“Spectre”, “Take Five”), Maurizio Braucci (“Gomorrah”, “The Interval”, “Reality”) and Gaetano di Vaio (“Take Five”, “Scampia”, “Deep in the Wood”).

The fictional portions star Peppe Lanzetta, Luca Lionello (“The Passion of Christ”, “Sangue”), Salvatore Ruocco (“Gomorrah”, “Take Five”), Benedito Sicca (“Romanzo Criminale”), Salvatore Striano (“Caesar Must Die”, “Gomorrah”, “Take Five”), Ernesto Mahieux (“The Embalmer”, “Golden Door”, “Don’t Waste Your Time, Johnny!”), Shanyn Leigh (“Public Enemies”, “4:44 Last Day on Earth”, “Welcome to New York”), Anita Pallenberg (“Barbarella”, “Dillinger is Dead”, “Performance”) and Giovanni Capalbo (“The Passion of Christ”, “The Seventh Room”, “Colpo d’occhio”).

One story line revolves around the mafia and Sebastiano (portrayed by Luca Lionello) and Franco (portrayed by Salvatore Ruocco) are told by their boss that they must kill one of their own, Carmine (portrayed by Benedito Sicca) and must dispose of the body.

Another storyline revolves around a family, Padre di Lucia (portrayed by Peppe Lanzetta) is a drunkard and gambler and often yelling at his kids.  His daughter Lucia (portrayed by Shanyn Leigh) earns money for the family as a prostitute but when she gets home, her life is even more unfortunate.

And the other fictional storyline are men who are locked up in prison and all trying to co-exist in crowded prison settings.

A scathing hybrid documentary by filmmaker Abel Ferrara about the corruption of Naples.


“Napoli Napoli Napoli” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1).  The documentary, while made in 2009, features a variety of archived sources, so as one can expect, picture quality is much better than other scenes through the film.  Fictional portions feature much better picture quality, while interviews and other footage, sometimes looks a bit aged or on a cheaper film stock.  But for the most part, picture quality is good.


“Napoli Napoli Napoli” is presented in Italian linear PCM 2.0 with English subtitles. Dialogue is clear via center channel. I didn’t notice any hiss, crackling or pops during my viewing of the film.


“Napoli Napoli Napoli” comes with the following special features:

  • Backstage – (33:53) Behind-the-scenes of the making of “Napoli Napoli Napoli”.
  • Trailer – Theatrical Trailer for “Napoli Napoli Napoli”


“Napoli Napoli Napoli” comes with a 16-page booklet featuring essays such as “Naples, daughter of the Bronx”, “Abel, the Cain of Cinema”, “Naples Naples Naples in Progress”, “Naples, the Capital of Cinema” and “Gaetano, the Neapolitan, Neapolitan, Neapolitan” plus “Little Big Stories of Prodution” and “Galactic Guide for Naples Naples Naples”.

Abel Ferrara’s “Napoli Napoli Napoli” is an unforgiving film on its portrait of the seedy, corrupted areas of Napoli.

No, you won’t find any positive things about the city when it comes to its museums, pizza or anything that would attract tourism to the location, considering the film is financed by the Regional Tourist Bureau, if anything, the documentary is a cautionary story of how government neglect, high unemployment and corruption has turned the once cultural center of Western Europe to a crime-filled city with drugs, murder, dilapidated buildings, people who have ended up in prison because they have no way for survival and some involvement in crime is there only way to survive.

For some viewers, they must be asking why Ferrara would create such a film?

His previous film, “Chelsea on the Rocks” (2008) focused on the famous tennants of the popular Hotel Chesea in New York, while his 2010 drama “Mulberry St.” focused on where Ferrara would start his film career in New York and events leading to the the celebration of Little Italy’s San Gennaro.

But “Napoli Napoli Napoli” is the most scathing of the three documentaries.  There is no doubt that Ferrara was trying to show viewers of how much of the mafia stronghold there is over the city and region but he tries to show a correlation of how many of these young men and women were introduced to a life of crime because of the mafia and the circumstances of why Napoli is the way it is, is because of the corruption in which the mafia is involved.

With government corruption and also corruption in law enforcement, with the already corrupted city, the film tries to show how a few residents feel that their choices are limited and there is nothing else out there for them but crime.

Apartments created in the ’60s which many residents are living in are now in bad shape and because of the way they were designed, they now resemble prisons and to make things worse, many people who are not financially stable, many who are unemployed are losing their homes.

While the documentary provides testimonies of various people, many who got involved in crime due to family or spouse involvement with the mafia, to others having to support their siblings after their parents have passed, these few who have turned to drugs and prostitution and were incarcerated.

But as journalists, lawmakers and community leaders give their two cents on the problems afflicting their area, there is a lot of talk and not enough being done.

Meanwhile, Ferrara blends fictional drama with one story featuring men from the mafia trying to off one of their own, another featuring a dysfunctional family that no doubt gets darker when you see what happens towards the end of the film and the tensions in prison due to overcrowding.

While documentaries try to keep some sort of balance of showing the bad and the good, “Napoli Napoli Napoli” doesn’t really show any signs of positive movement from the government or any way to solve the issue, because it has been going on for so long with no resolve.

Many who treasure Naples should feel badly for the way the film doesn’t show any shining light or glimmer of hope and had every reason to critique Abel Ferrara for his documentary showing Naples in a negative light.

The fact is that other countries or cities, may it be in Detroit, Rio de Janeiro, Manila, etc., there is crime in major cities, especially where there is high unemployment.  There are bad areas, there are bad people but a city and its people should not be generalized into this percentage of those who have committed a crime or live in poor areas.

But I will give filmmaker Abel Ferrara some respect in taking on a film and wiling to show an honest portrayal of those who were incarcerated and why.

As for the Blu-ray release, while the film is made in 2009, it may not have a digital feel to it, when compared to other recent films but footage does look slightly aged.  Just slightly.  And of course, as a documentary, you have a mix of present to archived historic footage of Naples in the past.

Overall, Abel Ferrara’s “Napoli Napoli Napoli” is a hybrid documentary that goes far to show the negative aspects of life in Naples and how several people were affected with the problems of their municipality.  But also featuring fictional storylines of crime and survival.  An audacious film  that strays from having any blaance and gives viewers an unforgiving look at Naples.

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