City of God: documents around a decade of life in a Rio De Janeiro favela (slum). It starts with 30 minutes of back story then dips in and out of flashback for the rest of the movie. To emphasise the violence in the hood the film’s pretty brutal in parts – ‘hand or foot’ and Knockout Ned scenes are particularly rough. Unfortunately, what’s supposed to be the film’s most crucial scene (in the nightclub) was ruined by strobing lights. For me, the main guy Rocket is a too easy-going: he never really seems to care much about losing his girl, then his job, then some family – and doesn’t want revenge. It’s probably about 20 minutes too long too. The overall message is that everyone, from respectable citizens through to the tiny children, ends up being pulled into the self-destructive criminal / gang lifestyle – and it’s hammered home through pretty much every character’s story progression. The critics said that Slumdog was better than this… and they must have been high. City of God is a well-told, pretty slick, cinematic epic that’s often called ‘the Brazilian Goodfellas‘ (bold statement). It’s definitely a must-see for fans of crime and world cinema.
Also, if you liked this the same director went on to do Blindness – well worth checking out.