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Review: City of God (2002)

Okay, I missed this one when it came and went in the theatres. I missed it when it first released on DVD. Even IMDb tried to tell me how great it was, but I wouldn't listen.

I'm here to tell you, this film is the best thing I've seen in the last 12 months, hands down. It also makes the list of top 3 films I've seen in the last five years. City of God is a story of two boys growing up in the favela, the slums of Rio de Janeiro, and the choices they make, the struggle to just get by, their hopes. It's not always pretty, but the occasional violence and street images all serve the story. The cinematography is smooth, and will leave you wrung out from sweating through a dusty Rio summer, and soaking up the sun on Rio beaches.

It's what The Harder They Come might have been with better actors and photography, or what Gangs of New York might have been without the pretention, Hollywood egos, and ham-fisted story-line. It doesn't glorify gangs, or poverty, and yet it makes its characters shine. They earn their triumphs; their failures are crushing.

I can't possibly do it justice. If you haven't already, rent it, buy it, borrow it, but see it.

City of God ★★★★★


Jan. 19th, 2005 11:45 am (UTC)
Jay here:

Saw City of God... I agree with you. It's great. And I agree it's hard to describe. Ultimately, it's just a complex story, told well.

So... what are the other two films on your top 3 list?
Jan. 19th, 2005 04:17 pm (UTC)
Memento just impressed the hell out of me structurally and otherwise. Then it's a toss up between Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which was relatively recent) and Office Space, with the edge to OS.

Comedies never get the credit they deserve in these sorts of Top 10, Top 3, etc lists, but comedy is hard. I've found myself quoting Office Space frequently, and still loving it years after seeing it. Maybe it's the corporate day job that does it.
Jan. 19th, 2005 08:56 pm (UTC)
As a fan of Memento, you owe it to yourself to seek out Lee Chang-dong's Peppermint Candy at Scarecrow. I believe it came out the same year as Memento, which Nolan preceeded with the overlooked and structurally similar Following, which was even more interesting than Memento in some ways.

Lee is the director of Oasis, my favorite movie, and Green Fish, which I remember enjoying even more than Peppermint Candy, and which I discovered at Scarecrow and rented based on one of those cute little staff recommendation cards, which I didn't see so often in the past couple of years before I moved.

Eternal Sunshine is neck-and-neck with the soon-to-be-distributed Best of Youth for my favorite film of 2004.

And I waited far too long to see City of God, too. I think it was on its third visit to Seattle by the time I got to it. Powerful movie that I should own.

Yes, I am the tool of subordinate clauses today, which I don't understand one bit.
Jan. 20th, 2005 11:27 am (UTC)
I agree that all of those are impressive. Memento and Eternal Sunshine play with structure while being emotionally involving - tough to do. As far as quoting Office Space, we once had an entire whiteboard in our computer lab covered in them. I believe the board still says we have to remember to put cover sheets on our TPS reports.

Hey, can I get a Live Journal account without actually starting a blog? This "anonymous" thing blows.
Jan. 20th, 2005 04:19 pm (UTC)
Yes, of course you can. See the grubbstreet account for what happens when someone just wants to comment with an icon.

Go to http://www.livejournal.com/ to set up your free account.

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