City of Men (2002–2005)
"Cidade dos Homens" (original title)

TV Series  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama
8.4
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 2,079 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 11 critic

In this original variation on the Latin American telenovela (slow, emotional soap), life in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian big city jungle, is told in short, fast alternating scenes from the... See full summary »

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Title: City of Men (2002–2005)

City of Men (2002–2005) on IMDb 8.4/10

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4   3   2   1  
2005   2004   2003   2002  
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Series cast summary:
Pierre-Augustin Crenn ...
 Acerola (20 episodes, 2002-2005)
Darlan Cunha ...
 Laranjinha / ... (19 episodes, 2002-2005)
Douglas Silva ...
 Acerola / ... (19 episodes, 2002-2005)
Camila Monteiro ...
 Cristiane (10 episodes, 2003-2005)
Roberta Rodrigues ...
 Poderosa / ... (9 episodes, 2002-2005)
Phellipe Haagensen ...
 Espeto (9 episodes, 2002-2004)
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Storyline

In this original variation on the Latin American telenovela (slow, emotional soap), life in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian big city jungle, is told in short, fast alternating scenes from the viewpoints of two sets of characters, all youngsters, but from both sides of unequal life: generally dark-skinned street-kids, which rarely come to anything better then begging and street crime, and generally white boys from the middle and upper classes, like João Victor, who have a shot at a better future thanks to an actual education. Yet each group simultaneously hates, fears and envies the other at some level when their worlds physically touch but socially remain unbridgeable... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Comedy | Crime | Drama

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4 April 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

City of Men  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Laranjinha's real name is Uólace da Silva. Acerola's real name is Luis Claudio Cunha. See more »

Connections

Spin-off City of Men (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

A história de Jorge
by Jorge Ben
See more »

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User Reviews

Lacks narrative cohesion & visual style but is an excellent experience
10 December 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In Rio de Janeiro, the shantytowns on the Hill have death rates that are comparable to some areas that are classed as war zones. The losers in this particular war zone are mostly children and teenagers, who find themselves sucked into violent lives of crime that are as short as they are hopeless. However not everyone on The Hill has "always wanted to be a gangster" and some just live their lives day to day. In this series we meet Laranjinha and Acerola, two young men who enjoy the dances, are drawn by the game, run things to get money, hang out on the beach and mostly chase girls and try to lose their virginity.

With a deeply ironic title that hints at the dark realities of life in these places (many don't make it to be men) I was a definite viewer when I saw this series coming onto BBC4. I won't babble too long but I just want to take the chance to register my praise for this channel – those who say that BBC4 is not providing a service are dead wrong, it is not their fault the mass audience want mindless stuff to relax in front of. BBC4 gives me cinema from all over the world on a weekly basis and also throws things like this my way – otherwise I would have had to buy the DVD. My dig at City of God in my plot summary is not a reflection of my view of the film because I actually really liked it, however City of Men is better in regards the actual story. Free of the constraints of the film, we are released of the demands of narrative and it produces a film that is more about the experience than it is about one specific story. Although I liked the film I did like this approach better over the course of the nine episodes because I felt it was able to relax and be more realistic without the pressure of actually going someone. As esteemed reviewer el-p has already observed, this means that the final episode does feel a bit of an anti-climax because it just sort of drifts away without closure; but then life only has one closure and that just doesn't happen bang on the end of any given look at life.

This approach allows us to simply follow the two boys during this part of their life and produces a picture of life in the shantytowns as well as some wider comments. The series has episodes based totally around the nightlife, around the dealers, around hustling or even just about the beach life. Some of them are fun, some are deadly serious, some are political and some are moving but the important thing is that they all work well. The writing never feels like writing and there are no speeches, just natural dialogue that helped me to get into the characters and accept them as real even when their situations are a million miles from my life. The use of an amateur cast helps as well but it also helps that they can be natural in front of a camera – and there are few here that struggle. Cunha stands out because he has the most interesting character; Silva is also good but the series tends to use Acerola as more of a comic character or have his inner issues be more about getting laid than anything else.

The direction and production values will probably initially put City of God fans off because the series lacks the real cinematic style of its bigger brother, being shot mostly on digital video and being very hand-held and grainy. However give it five minutes and it won't matter because you'll be into it like this and appreciate the intimacy it brings with it. Some of the episodes use animation (most don't) and, apart from a nasty little Matrix-style moment in the last episode (that look cheaply done) the animation is well done and matches the indie feel of the series by being rough but inventive. The biggest problem for me was the fact that the opening credits are so terrible that the first episode I watched I assumed it was going to be awful and, although the series was great, I always fast-forward the opening credits. It is a nice idea but the sight of Chunda and Silva running on the spot unconvincingly just looks daft to me.

Overall this is a very good series and in many ways is better than the film that spawned it. It may lack the narrative flow and visual style of City of God but it paints a fuller picture that shows us something closer to reality – not all those on the hill go into crime etc but many, many lives are touched by it and it is a dire situation. The lack of narrative is not a problem until an ending is required: up till then the experience is well done and makes for great viewing thanks to the charismatic leads. Well worth seeing and it was a genuine shock to me to see fewer than 50 votes registered for this on IMDb – last year everyone and their dog were praising City of God and Brazilian cinema in general, I know I've seen a lot more South American films as a result of getting into this market, but it seems I am one of the few. I guess the mass market will only seek out non-Hollywood product if it is served on their terms and they don't have to hunt it out; bit depressing really to see so many viewing dumb action movies while stuff like this goes unnoticed. Anyway, rant over, this was a great little series – had its weaknesses but the messages and story telling are so well done that as many viewers as possible should be introduced to it.


9 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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