“I smoke, I snort, I killed and robbed, I'm a man”....
It's the final week of 21st-century gangster flicks, and this is the best of the lot. This week see's two tees inspired by this weeks movie 'The City Of God'.
The City of God is a Brazilian crime epic released in 2002, if you haven't seen it, you must. Co-directed by the team of Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund its the adapted story from the novel of the same name.
Set in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro spanning the 1960s and the 1970s, two young men choose different paths. Rocket (Phellipe Haagensen) is a budding photographer who documents the increasing drug-related violence in his neighbourhood. José "Zé" Pequeno (Douglas Silva) follows a different direction, the backdrop of the urban jungle becoming a character in its own right.
The film starts off with the narrator and protagonist Rocket who recalls his childhood in the 60s and the cinematography reflects this with softer lighting and warm colours representing his feelings of a less dangerous time in his life. It's here where about the 14-minute mark we are given our first jaw-dropping moment and the violence contained in ‘li’l Dice’ who later reinvents himself as Ze (a theme of reinvention and trying to change who you are, runs throughout the film).
Shot in super 16mm as opposed to the standard 35mm it adds to the gritty realistic almost documentary feel to the movie especially when the movie story shifts to the 1970s. When Rocket, who is now older tries to pursue his love of photography the City makes it hard for him and any of the characters to grow and move on ( as reflected in an early part of the film with the tender trio, and Benny later on). Ze has become ruthless, now in charge of the Cidade de Deus and the violence is more dangerous than ever where no one is safe and children prove their manhood by murder.
It's a tough watch but impossible to look away from, the cycle of violence goes on and on and those who can not claw their way out through education or keeping on the honest path get pulled in (and sometimes that's not enough). Life on these streets is cruel and children are drawn into crime, brutality and murder.
The movie is made up of a series of chapters and vignettes concentrating on different characters or even locations, one explains the history of the apartment and the role it played in the history of drug dealing and ultimately represents the power struggle between the various dealers.
Characters in City of God feel whole, fleshed out with story arcs, flaws and are well written. The city of God was filmed in some of the poorest places in Rio and shined a light on the favelas and the poverty faced by its inhabitants. Many of the actors are untrained residents who deliver real and raw performances.
It is kinetic, jaw-dropping, sad and shocking. One of the best Movie experiences you will ever see and hear about.
City of God is not currently streaming, but rent it now, you'll thank me later.