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This is my first time reviewing a film in IMDb or any site. This seemed
liked the perfect title for me to start with. The reason is because no
other film has ever effected me like City Of God.
To start off I want to say that like anyone that uses this site on a regular basis,,,,I've seen a TON of movies. From American classics all the way to disturbing Japanese gorefests.
City Of God takes every single aspect of modern cinema and storytelling to the peak of what a film can be. A lot of "normal" people will immediately stop watching once they realize they will have to read through subtitles. This is one of the most unfortunate mistakes a human can make because of all the amazing foreign films that people miss out on.
Fernando Meirelles needs to be recognized as an elite director for making this masterpiece. The film's opening scene with the kids chasing the chicken and shooting at it to catch is perfect. I think the important point of the films shows the innocence of all the characters mixed with the brutality of the environment they are raised in. The violence of it is powerful in certain parts showing how there is no shame or feeling in the outcome of their actions. The scene where Lil Ze catches up with the runts is still one of the most disturbing scene I can think of.
The cinematography is in every way what you want. A distinguished look. The colors of every room and street mixed with the time lapse scene in the drug apartment is fantastic.The sound editing and score are perfect for everything you are seeing on the screen.
This is really a movie I would and do recommend to anyone that wants to take a change on a foreign film. I have a lot of fanboy movies i love like certain big budget scifi movies from Cameron and Lucas of course,,,but for some reason when someone asks me what my favorite movie is I always come back to City Of God and say its the best. It's not necessarily my "favorite" movie because that would be too hard to generalize.
So if you come across this online or see it at a video store and your wondering what this is,,,,please give it a chance so your not missing out on a true masterpiece
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched "City of God" for the first time when it was initially
released on DVD in Brazil (didn't get a chance to see it in theaters,
but followed its gradual and glorious popularity, which started when it
premiered at Cannes 2002, out of competition). Since it was officially
released in the US only in 2003, it was eligible for the Oscars the
following year (but no longer for Best Foreign Film, since it was the
previous year's submission and it got snubbed), earning four
nominations in categories no Brazilian film had ever been recognized
before: director (Meirelles, co-director Lund didn't share the nod),
adapted screenplay (Braulio Mantovani, based on Paulo Lins' book),
editing (Daniel Rezende), and cinematography (Cesar Charlone). I saw it
again in 2007, after living in the US for one year, and the impact was
even bigger; just rewatched it last week, and now, more than ever, I
agree with the instant classic status this hell of a film earned.
That does not mean I didn't like it the first time I saw it. I did - a lot. But, at the same time, it felt like deja vu - Brazilians like me grew up used to watching horrible stories like this on the news since we were kids, and although I was fortunate enough to have been raised in a small, peaceful town and never suffered from violence or extreme poverty as the people shown in the film did; Brazilians tend to grow callous of our country's status quo of violent third-world nation. Things are slowly changing for the better, but there's so much work that needs to be done; still, one never loses faith in their country's future.
The first paradox is the movie's title, which is the actual name of the largest 'favela' (slum) in Rio de Janeiro, a beautiful city most regarded internationally for its postcard-perfect beaches, the statue of Christ the Redeemer and the classic "Girl from Ipanema" tune. You would expect "City of God" would be a beautiful place, and although it's part of beautiful Rio, it is far from it. It is a place where hell breaks loose (has had since the 1960's, where the action starts), and the movie focuses on two boys, Buscape and Dadinho, who grow up to be, respectively, a photographer (earning his way out of the favela, not without a price), and one of the most feared drug dealers/assassins in the history of the town.
Another paradox is the frequent misconception of the movie's relevance. The non-linear narrative and stylish, frantic editing are reminiscent of Tarantino's 'Pulp Fiction', and the film was heralded as a "South American Goodfellas". These are fair comparisons, but they can also undermine the film's devastating impact and social relevance behind all the cinematic pyrotechnics involved. "City of God" may be considered a spectacle victim of the MTV fashion (which ranges from the quality of a "Trainspotting" to the stupidity of Michael Bay's extravaganzas), or a movie that uses such modern narrative conventions to tell a painfully brutal real story (that's been repeating itself for decades) in a palatable way. The polished visuals may remind you that you are seeing a movie; but the raw cruelty of seeing little kids having to choose whether to be shot in their hands or feet, just to cite one of the film's most scathing moments, won't leave your mind.
This is not just a film, but a story of chaos on earth, a human tragedy that shouldn't be ignored or forgotten. Some may see "City of God" as an 'action movie', but they will be missing its real meaning, and the power that a good film can have to make us see beyond our general scope of reality.
Wow, what a darkly profound film. Really gets down into the
nitty-gritty details of the street gangster life (at least as it was in
decades past) in Brazilian slums. The subtle storyline shifts involving
various characters throughout the film may be slightly confusing for
some viewers, but the general focus is on Rocket (Buscapé), who wraps
up the entire plot of the film nicely at the end. The plentiful
violence is never gratuitous; it's always believable. Even when casual
cruelty is depicted, it makes sense in the world of the story. In spite
of the constant drug dealing shown throughout, it really makes your
heart go out to the ghetto denizens of South America, and hope that
things ultimately will change for the better there.
I am compelled to strongly congratulate the entire cast, and particularly the directors (Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund) for creating such a masterful work, and truly capturing the needed atmosphere of fear and tension to make this movie believable, while also sprinkling in a (very) few lighter scenes to offer a sort of 'let up' to the relentless rush of the storyline forward to the jarring conclusion. Just enough of a surprise twist at the end to (almost) nudge this black gem of a film into the 'thriller' category. But not completely, because this is essentially a street gangster tale, though with a different plot than most, and a somewhat different execution.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Gee! A great masterpiece! As soon as the film started, I instantly
thought it was a violence film I am not very fond of, but soon I was
fastened on the screen. I viewed the film twice in a row.
The story is based on the real situation 30-40 years ago on the slum named "City of God" in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and children or teenage gangsters. It must be seriously miserable and gruesome, but, needless to say we are interested in sensational unknown world, the story-telling, camera work, and editing are exquisite. Because all the shots are composed just as if a storyteller verbally tells us, I could easily understand the complicated relationship of people and their background. In that sense, the narration by a hero boy is effective.
This film may give many hints to people who want to produce movies, write scripts or even write fictions / non-fictions. It is full of effective methods for telling stories.
Personally, I prefer this to "Godfather." I strongly recommend it to everybody, even to people who dislike violence in the movies, like me.
City of God refers to a crime-ridden slum suburb in Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil. This movie follows the lives of several children and teenagers
living there from the end of the sixties to the start of the eighties.
I found this crime drama more shocking and disturbing than many
traditional horror movies. Why? Because most of the characters in there
are totally amoral and compassion-less, even enjoying their foul deeds.
Worst, some of the offenders are children. There's not much gore but
it's very violent and feels very realistic.
Most of the actors are unknown and their acting is not noticeable as acting, feels very natural. It's like you're a voyeur of something you wouldn't want to be stuck in. All the characters except perhaps a couple are not likable at all yet they're fascinating to watch. The story based on a book based on true events is gripping and really well told with separated titled chapters (such as the Story of Knockout Ned). The directing is top-notch with some dynamic camera work and sharp editing (already visible in the chicken chase introduction). If you're interested in organized crime movies a la Goodfellas mixed in with some Tarantino style (not the dialog though) in a poor Brazilian hood, this powerful movie is for you. I always find it ironic how gangsters are so religious yet commit atrocities. It's even more ironic in this seemingly god-forsaken ill-named city of god.
Rating: 8 1/2 stars out of 10.
This movie is amazing! The plot is strong and very thick without ever
becoming pretentious or slow. The action scenes are very gritty and
real and not full of Hollywood overindulgence and the violence is
framed more for poignancy than shock value. It is obviously very
influenced by scorscese but has a modern twist. It seems like a blend
of Scorscese's camera work and storytelling with the backdrop of urban
ghetto dramas like New Jack City or Boyz N the Hood. Even though the
movie is subtitled you never feel like you have to watch the bottom of
the screen to stay in the movie. You could almost watch the movie on
mute and still soak up ninety percent of the film.
I hope that everyone that thinks of themselves as a movie buff sees this movie. As far as I'm concerned it rivals anything in IMDb's top ten.
As a sidenote: I heard about this film when I worked with some Brazilians for a short time. Seu Jorge (knockout ned) is a huge star in South America. He is an actor and musician, and Brazilians worship the guy like a god. I ripped some of his songs from one of the guy's Ipods and have been a huge fan ever since. Seu also has a role in The Life Aquatic, he is the black guy who plays all the music throughout the movie. All the songs are David Bowie songs sang in Portuguese. If anyone wants to try out his music, download "Mangueira", it's my personal favorite.
You know, a classmate of mine told me for years I had to see this
movie, and since we like the same kind of movies, I just knew it had to
be great. Still, it lasted for about 3 years 'til I actually saw the
Well, I was totally blown away! I watched it with my boyfriend, and nothing could prepare me for the realistic feeling this movie gives you. Normally, I really don't feel like watching a movie for 130 minutes, (I really think movies shouldn't be any longer than 90 minutes tops, but that aside) but by this movie I didn't want it to end. And that's rather crazy, because it's horrible what you see. And it makes it even more horrible to know that this is what's happening out there. You just know it by watching this movie.
I'll never forget a certain scene, involving two little kids and a couple of older kids, where one of the little kids starts to cry so intensely, it breaks your heart. I almost started to belief that this was no longer acting, but that this was what was happening at that moment, but then I thought: no way the director would do such a thing to this little boy, especially when you think about the reason why he even bothered to make this movie.
Well anyway, the thing is, you've got to be kind of prepared for this movie. It's no happy ending like we all see in those Hollywood-blockbusters, it's no horror like we see in the same movies, it's no thrill like we see in the same movies and it's even no humor like we see in those movies. Yes, even though the topic of this film is horrible, there's still a sense of humor in it too. And why? Because the director didn't direct this movie from one side of the story, but from both sides. You get to see the reason why those kids do what they do, what happened to them, why they choose to be with this man rather than with the other, why their lives are so bad, they really don't have another choice than this one. And all this time the director stays close with his people; he's not overdoing it. He knows why he's filming this and he knows how he wants to film this and he stays with that. You'll never get the feeling that this is such a Hollywood movie about a terrible topic, that in the end wants you to confess your sins and say: 'Yeah, you're right, we should do something about this, I should give my own life to do something about this.' None of that crap in Cidade De Deus: yeah, sure, he wants you to know what's going on and he's so straightforward that you'll feel like he's slapping you in the face, but nowhere you will find that thing Hollywood-movies do to you; he lets you think what you want to think. Just see and undergo this. Be one of their neighborhood for once. And he did a damn well job!
Go and see, really, you'll be blown away.
- The good news:
Remarkable! You call tell that "City of God" is a unique film right from the titles chicken chase. An extremely well-shot, very realistic view of the other side of the world, a must see in every way,
- The (few) bad news:
Its so clearly and flawlessly shot (utilizing multiple camera angles, difficult view shots) that its hard to believe that its not Hollywood-produced. Fernando Meirelles - who later shot the "Constant Gardener" - had either tremendous ingenuity or a tremendous budget.
See it and it will be with you forever (9/10).
This saga about kids growing up in a violent and drug-infested neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro is fresh and vibrant from its droll opening scene to its riveting finale. It is brilliantly directed by Meirelles, who fuses an innovative story-telling technique with a fine script and terrific camera-work to create a memorable cinematic experience. The tension is palpable throughout, specially in a heart-wrenching scene where one child is prodded to shoot another as a gang initiation ritual. Although the subject matter is violence, the film never dwells on it, focusing instead on characters and circumstances. There is fine ensemble acting from a cast of non-stars.
Planned and executed by the state government of Guanabara, the quarter
of Cicade de Deus (City of God) was built in 1960 as part of a policy
to remove all favelas (shanty towns; slums) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"We came to the City of God hoping to find paradise," reminisces
Rocket, our narrator. "Many families were homeless due to flooding and
acts of arson in the slums
the big wigs in government didn't joke
around. Homeless? Off to City of God!" Nowadays, Cicade de Deus is
infamous as a high crime quarter, rife with social problems. "There was
no electricity, paved streets or transportation. But for the powerful,
our problems didn't matter. We were far too removed from the picture
postcard image of Rio de Janeiro." Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund's
acclaimed Brazilian film "City of God" dares to veer from this
"postcard image" of Brazilian life, creating an intense and
uncompromising glimpse at life in the violent and drug-infested slums
at the heart of the city.
The story, which spans the 1960s and 1970s, follows two parallel lives in the Cicade de Deus. Rocket is a quiet, honest boy who dreams of becoming a photographer. Whilst nobody in this city is truly innocent, Rocket perhaps comes closest. His father was a fishmonger, and the older brother he respects, Clipper, is a hood (short for hoodlum) who with two other close friends, Goose and Shaggy - forms the Tender Trio, who acquire their money through theft.
The second child is Li'l Dice, who will later rise to be known as Li'l Zé. An ambitious young boy who often trails the Tender Trio, Li'l Dice attains his first experience of murder via a shockingly revelational flashback. Li'l Dice subsequently grows to become the dominant drug dealer in Cicade de Deus, after successfully eliminating most of his competition and taking over their businesses.
Perhaps the first thing you'll notice about this film is that it is visually stunning. César Charlone's beautiful hand-held camera-work perfectly captures the beauty and horror of Cicade de Deus' chaotic everyday occurrences. Whilst sometimes you feel that the camera darts all over the place unnecessarily, this also offers the film a documentary-like feel, brutally reminding you that this is based on a true story.
'City of God' is an unapologetically intense film, and it certainly is not for the faint of heart. The overwhelming combination of violence, drugs and rape (and the very idea that children as young as ten or so were taking part in all of this) made me nauseous at times, and I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed watching this movie. It was a rewarding experience, and I'm glad that I did watch it, but I can't say it was fun. In fact, I felt quite depressed afterwards. Yes, I suppose this just isn't my sort of movie. For what it's worth, I much preferred watching Fernando Meirelles' follow-up film, 'The Constant Gardener' (2005).
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