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|Index||29 reviews in total|
"Citade de Deus" ("City of God") was a Brazilian masterpiece telling
the story about the gang wars in the Brazilian favelas (slums) during
the '70s from the perspective of a boy who wants to become a
journalist. Based on a true story, it gives you a quite realistic
impression of what it was like to live back then in one of the most
dangerous places on earth.
After the success of "Citade de Deus", Kátia Lund and Fernando Meirelles, (the directors) created a series called "Cidade dos Homens" ("City of God") based on the same concept taking place in the present which in 2007 was turned into another feature length film with the same title.
As I haven't seen the series I cannot judge it, but the film "Cidade dos Homens" was not nearly as good as the first. Telling the story of two friends growing up in the Rio favelas, the film starts out real slow and never manages to become nearly as compelling as "Citade de Deus" was. Certainly, the fighting between the two rivaling gangs is exciting to watch but this only but a small part of the film and the rest of it consists of little more than the two friends trying to survive and maintain their friendship. There is little depth in any of the other characters and this makes the film fairly pointless to watch for anyone who's already seen "Citade de Deus". While not a bad film by any standards, but it's by no means better than mediocre either. I expected more from the people who brought us "Citade de Deus". Was this a cheap attempt to get some easy money?!?
I've been mesmerized by the TV Show City of God and it was clear that i
must see the movie that would end it. Well, i haven't been
Within the surroundings we've seen in the TV show, there is a lot of going on. Laranjinha, Acerola and their friends are growing up. Madrugadão has everything under control, or so he thinks as the appetite of some of his gang members grows.
A lot of unexpected things will occur, but favela will witness silently as they all come and go. In a way this is a logical ending of the TV show. Some characters strive to exit favela and some succeed while others merely exit their lives.
'City of God' was a visceral epic, a tale of the slummification of a Brazillian new suburb and the consequences of this story for the lives of those who lived there. 'City of Men' is a loose sort of follow up, with a different director, and it's a lesser film, without Fernando Meirelles' scintillating direction. More than anything else, the story suffers because its protagonists are so clearly innocents caught up in events beyond their control; while it's still an effective portrayal of the harshness of life in the favella, it lacks the sense of individual responsibility that is usually a necessary part of the most powerful drama. Which is not to say that it's a bad film, making good use of the dramatic setting of Rio de Janeiro, and conveying well not just the brutality, but also the fragility, of a life lived at the margins.
"City of Men" is a feature film version of a blockbuster series that
ran on Brazilian TV from 2002 to 2005. It is also a sequel of sorts to
the earlier "City of God," an award-winning movie directed by Fernando
Paul Morelli's "City of Men" focuses on Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha) and Acerola (Douglas Silva), two honorable teens who are struggling to make a decent life for themselves in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. The former is searching for the father he's never known, while the latter is only beginning to learn what it means to be a father to his own son. Their personal story is set against the backdrop of a violent turf-war between two rival gangs that are battling it out for preeminence in the city.
"City of Men" reveals its origins as a TV series in the novelistic approach it takes to storytelling and character development. From the beginning, we feel as if we have been thrust into the midst of a story "already in progress." With little explanatory background, the screenplay (by Elena Soarez) introduces us all at once to a multiplicity of characters, whose relationships with one another we are forced to pick up almost on the fly as it were. This allows us to become both an observer of and an active participant in the drama that unfolds.
Certainly, one of the most important characters in the movie is the city itself, since it is this very environment of poverty, hopelessness and violence that, in large measure, determines the kinds of lives these people will lead and the types of futures they will have.
Morelli's directorial style is up-close-and-personal in the more intimate moments, and vivid and exciting in the pulse-pounding "action" sequences. The sense of immediacy that he and cinematographer Adriano Goldman bring to the work acts as an effective counterweight to some of the more melodramatic elements that creep into the screenplay towards the end.
With excellent performances and a surprising amount of optimism given its generally depressing milieu and setting, "City of Men" is a tale of friendship and adult responsibility that will move the spirit and touch the heart.
Having not seen 'Cidade de Deus' nor the original TV series of which
this movie is a continuation, as a stand alone I found 'Cidade dos
Homens' to be quite satisfying. It kept me hooked from start to finish.
Paula Morelli also gives great attention to detail and captures the
local life in Rio de Janeiro quite realistically. With the backdrop of
a local gang war, at the core of the film lies the friendship between
Laranjinha and Acerola. Their friendship is put to test when the
gangwar erupts and the identities of their fathers are discovered.
The cinematography is mostly done with a hand-held digital camera that gives a spacious feel while also stressing on the dense mazelike streets of the hills. The lighting stresses on the heavy heat of Rio de Janeiro. Music also works well with the story. The overall acting is very good with young actor Douglas Silva topping the cast.
'Cidade De Deus' has heart and the strength lies in the storytelling. The portrayal of corruption and poverty in Brasil is effectively portrayed. It shows how people are surviving everyday and how even the smallest 'mistake' can risk losing their lives.
It's the Dead End Hill slums in Rio de Janeiro. Best friends Acerola
and Laranjinha are turning 18 growing up without fathers. Orphan
Acerola helps Laranjinha discover his father in prison who is on the
verge of being paroled. Acerola's wife leaves him with his son Clayton.
Then babysitter Cris leaves and he is angry to do the work of a mother.
Meanwhile the gangs are ramping up the conflicts and betrayal as the
hills descend into all out war.
I don't see the characters that compelling. None of them intrigue me. I don't really care about them. This is often compared to "City of God" due to some of the same actors. While it takes place in the same slums, the tension feels manufactured. It's got more action but it doesn't have the same grittiness. Something seems to be sanitized or beautified. It's great to return to these places but it's not quite the same.
At times this movie is very powerful and really makes the reality of
Brazil's slums come alive. The characters struggle with broken families
and shattered dreams, and join gangs because there are few other
realistic options. Even though the film is fictional, it is sad to see
because there is truth behind it.
At other times the movie feels very ham-handed, as the characters deal with themes that have been in many movies before. Fathers who come back, sons who push against them. Most of the characters are not well-defined and lack depth and motivation.
I would recommend the movie, but it is not as good as some other Brazilian films about life in the favelas, namely City of God.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While the world is aware of City Of God, it's TV spin off finale on the big screen is less wordily, and as our characters are defined by the favelas and roles found there, their plot is caged in by the need for a TV summary. That being laid out does not take away from the bold finale, its' bing filmed in Rocina, the beautiful dichotomy of Rio's favelas atop the glorious beaches with the Dois Irmaos creating an intoxicating view which can never be lived up to into reality. Our actors do their best, but our king of the hill and his number two split over nothing and yet everyone knows a war is on? How is this possible? How are we viewers to then move forward with lost and found fathers who also have a life altering history? Ech characters story viewed separately makes for good TV episodes, but sewn together on the big screen is hard to digest. Loved the use of older footage where most movies create something that we have to try hard top believe, here, an inherited audience was held at bay by the handcuffs of aggressive plot lines. Thank god I'm still passionate enough about Brasil to look past this to enjoy a picturesque favela gangster movie with lesser expectations than those hooked on the show.
I remember when I first saw this movie in 2008, I walked into it
heavily comparing it with "City of God" and expecting to see the same
fast-pace storytelling, same witty dialogue and same amount of violence
C.O.G. had. About 30 minutes into this movie I started to realize that
this movie was a completely different animal, although with many of the
same actors and same director serving as one of the executive
producers. Needless to say, I walked out of this movie heavily
disappointed. Fast forward to six years later, the movie is now out of
Netflix and by now I have had more than my fair share of Brazilian
reality-based films such as "Elite Squad" and "Elite Squad 2" among
other Brazilian films which take place in the infamous Rio favelas.
After watching it a second time and taking it for what it is, I now
appreciate the art of this movie much more.
The movie touches not only on poverty but also on young unplanned parenthood, the responsibilities and obligations that come with it, on different types of loyalty and betrayal, forgiveness of oneself and others and it shows you the true meaning of friendship. Rather than focusing on the violent setting itself and on carnage and violence like C.O.G. did, those things take a backseat and the movie shows you the real people who inhabit the favelas. It's a story of friendship, survival, and the choices people make when they don't have a choice.
I am not familiar with the TV series, as I never got a chance to watch a single episode, but I can tell that this movie faithfully and successfully translated the story to the silver screen while keeping the essence of the original characters. If you like true slice of life dramas, City of Men surely delivers the goods.
Overall I give City of Men 8 out of 10.
This is the follow-up to one of my favourite films, City of God (2002).
It continues the theme of life in the poorer parts of Rio and takes a
closer look at how things are today. I really enjoyed it, although it
doesn't have the depth of 'City of God', I still found the simple
storytelling quite refreshing. I had better warn those scared of
subtitles that it is in Portuguese with the dreaded words at the bottom
of the screen. Here's a brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
Two friends, Acerola and Laranjinha are turning eighteen. Acerola is already married and has a son, Clayton. Laranjinha is less than content because he doesn't know who his father is. They both live on 'Dead End Hill', an area that is run by a gang lead by a character known as Midnight. Whilst talking about their plight one day a plan is hatched to discover just who Laranjinha's father is. They ask around and eventually get a lead, but I think it would be giving too much away if I told you any more about this. Meanwhile, one of Midnight's lieutenants defects to another gang and they decide they want to move into 'Dead End Hill'. Who will survive? Will Laranjinha find his father? As you can probably guess, I'm not going to tell you here of the Spoiler Police will be finding my corpse in the quarry.
Beautifully shot, I love the grainy look and feel to this film. It's almost like it was filmed on a home movie camera in places, but it still has a professional feel to it. Although it's quite hard to judge a performance in a foreign language, I must give praise to the young leads; Douglas Silva as Acerola and Darlan Cunha as Laranjinha. I thought they were both excellent.
This film will always be compared to 'City of God', but it doesn't have the epic scope of that film. Instead it is more compact and because of that it's much easier to identify with the characters. There are little flashbacks to when the boys were younger that is a neat way of bringing the audience closer to the story. Over all, it's a nice simple drama that has some really nice touches. I know it's not had a great deal of exposure, but it's certainly one I can recommend, particularly if you enjoyed 'City of God'. You can probably tell I really enjoyed this one.
My Score: 8.6/10.
IMDb Score: 7.2/10 (based on 6,016 votes at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76/100 (based on 79 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
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