Spread it or ignore it?


Vendetta: truth, lies and the Mafia is a six-part Italian Netflix documentary series about the people who fight organized crime in Sicily – and more specifically, two characters who have a bit of notoriety themselves. One is a self-proclaimed television journalist and the other is a civil servant with state power behind her. Both are controversial characters, and neither likes the other. Sounds juicy, doesn’t it?

Opening shot: Subtitle: SICILY. A shot of street lights at the roadside at night. Thunder rumbles in the distance.

The essential: In the 1990s, Italy was marked by so many “mafia massacres”, an anti-mafia movement emerged, led by journalists and judges. “But are they all real heroes?” Asks a subtitle. One of those journalists is Pino Maniaci, who says his anti-Mafia activism makes him fear retaliation – every time he goes to start his car, he wonders if it will explode. One of those judges is Silvana Saguto, who says she has worked to seize “billions” in assets from Mafia organizations. They are the main characters in this series, and their conflict is this: Maniaci accuses Saguto of being corrupt. Saguto accuses Maniaci of being a mobster himself.

That’s the gist of the gist here. The episode settles in Partinico, where Maniaci lives and works. In 1999 he acquired the community TV channel Telejato and turned to journalism after a few different professional experiences. He runs the station himself, along with his wife and children. His amateur and local news programs drew a large following when he used his brash persona – self-aggrandizing, broom mustache, on-air swearing – to take on local gangsters who terrorize locals and appropriate violence. Maniaci is described as “eccentric,” “not a saint,” “vulgar” and “reckless,” a fucking attention to the savage fringes of professionalism that nonetheless has its journalist guns pointed at the right people when it goes to. the antenna and calls mafiosos “pieces of shit”. But he also hates injustice, testifies his sister. And for his trouble, his enemies burned his car, killed his beloved pet dogs and tried to strangle him with his own tie.

Then we go to Palermo, where we meet Saguto. She became a judge in 1981 and finally made it her mission to defeat the Mafiosi. So she has a ubiquitous bodyguard. We see her shooting a gun with deadly precision and verbally fighting with famous gang boss Salvatore Riina in court. She says she’s afraid of bugs, but she’s not afraid of mobsters. In 2010, she became chairman of the Department of Protective Measures, an agency empowered to seize Mafia assets without a criminal trial, requiring the accused to prove that the assets were not acquired illegally.

After protective measures began to seize suspected Mafia businesses and assets, Maniaci and Telejato began reporting corruption within the office. Businesses would be foreclosed, then neglected, putting people out of work; Worse still, positions in these companies were reportedly given to friends and family members of those working for the protective measures. Some residents claimed to have paid extortion money to the Mafia under threat of death, then were labeled Mafioso by the department – guilt by association. Saguto came under fire. She got a call from “a Protinico nutcase” who “isn’t even a real journalist”. She said she had never heard of Maniaci, who was trying to expose him. Her work became credible after national news began reporting the same story, and in 2015 the state investigated her for corruption. And then, Maniaci was arrested when the authorities gathered a batch of accused mafia. To be continued!

Photo: Netflix

What shows will this remind you of? This story of two strong personalities in a battle of wills takes the King tiger model and apply it to a different context. Saguto and Maniaci give off some dynamic Carole Baskin / Joe Exotic energy, but with a lower wacko quotient.

Our opinion : Vendetta takes a sensationalistic approach to a story about sensationalism, amplifying the rivalry between its two main ones, whose true motives remain in the dark after an episode. Are they using an anti-mafia platform for the common good or to advance their careers and themselves? Both, probably. Maniaci presents himself as too much of an intentional brand not to be selfish; he often speaks of him in the third person, as if he had created a character of Pino Maniaci for television. And Saguto – well, did anyone else raise their eyebrows at the phrase “without a criminal trial” and wonder if the powers of the Office of Protective Measures left the door wide open? to fraud?

So far, the series moves at a steady pace and emphasizes its personalities – at the expense of details, I’m afraid. The first of a six-episode series shouldn’t go into detail, but it shouldn’t make us google additional information for relevant context, either. It is unclear whether Maniaci is viewed by viewers and professionals as a citizen journalist or just a joke. This gives us no idea of ​​the reach of Telejato (Wikipedia says he has a potential audience of 150,000), simply stating that Maniaci is “popular”. If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times: if a documentary makes us look at Wikipedia, then it is not doing its job.

However, Vendetta can boast of having enough Mafia content to appeal to this corner of obsessives. It’ll also trigger our guilty pleasure sensors with that waiting-Maniaci-could-be-a-crook-TOO cliffhanger, which could be a compelling enough development to let AutoPlay take us straight to the next episode. There exists in the median between Tiger king-type trash and believable journalism, and the story is strong enough that we can see it through the next five chapters.

Gender and skin: Nothing.

Starting shot: A series of mafia mugshots ends with one last face: that of Maniaci.

Sleeper Star: Drink whenever you see Maniaci’s wife, Patrizia Marchione, holding a cigarette, taking a puff, or crushing a cigarette.

Most pilot line: “A bullet costs the Mafia nothing. “- Saguto

Our call: Stream it. Despite its flaws, Vendetta: truth, lies and the Mafia shows enough charisma from its constituents to arouse our interest.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work on johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba.

Flux Vendetta: truth, lies and the Mafia on Netflix

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