F.I.L.M. of the Week (September 25, 2009)

25 09 2009

I literally mean what I am about to say: drop what you are doing, get in a car, drive to Blockbuster, and go get “City of God,” the “F.I.L.M. (First-Rate, Independent Little-Known Movie) of the Week.”  With just his first film, director Fernando Meirelles creates a breathtaking world of crime and greed with the narrative poise of an old pro (I’m talking the level of Scorsese and Mike Nichols).  Set in a slum outside of Rio de Janeiro, the movie chronicles the history of drugs, gangs, and murder in the city through the eyes of Rocket, a boy with a knack for photography.  It is this gift which provides the opportunity to escape the vicious cycle of violence and retaliation which has claimed the lives of many of his friends.  For those who like comparisons, think “GoodFellas” crossed with the gritty world of poverty in “Slumdog Millionaire.”

After seeing the movie, I was compelled to find out more about Meirelles and what led him to make such a bold film.  I discovered Meirelles received a movie camera while living in Brazil at a young age, and it became a hobby.  It then made obvious sense to me why he was drawn to this project because he was clearly drawn to the character of Rocket and the parallels between how art saved them.  The painstaking lengths to which Mierelles goes to make sure that his vision hits you like a sucker punch the chest is incredible, yet it is even more incredible how hard he lands that punch.  I was in tears as the city’s crime lord forces a new recruit to slowly kill an innocent child.  The bleak, unsparing city that Mierelles is able to put on the screen before you is tough to watch.  But at the same time, he is able to bring such a vibrant and eclectic stylistic angle to the environment that I think “City of God” is a movie that I will want to watch over and over again.

So seriously, what are you still doing reading this post?  Get up NOW and get “City of God.”  (Although I do issue a disclaimer, this is once again not a movie for those who cannot handle brutally realistic violence and the gloomy world that Meirelles creates.  I would liken the violence to the level and power of “Schindler’s List” … at times, it really is that hard to watch.  And as for the gloomy world, he often cuts to shots of emaciated dogs that are literally just skin and bones scrounging for food.  That’s just a sample of what lies in store for you.)



2 responses

28 09 2009

Great description of “City of God” — it is like a Brazilian “Goodfellas,” but it’s also one hell of a coming-of-age movie and a drama, too. Fernando Meirelles is rapidly becoming one of my favorite directors (“The Constant Gardener” was his handywork, too).

29 09 2009

I have “The Constant Gardener” saved on my TiVo … in fact, I have for almost nine months. It’s on sale for $6.99 on iTunes, so I’ll try to watch it this week to save on buying it if it’s really that good.

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