are cheap. Critics have squandered the meaning of words like "powerful"
like money at a strip club, spending it on the ugly, kind-of-chubby
girls because they couldn't wait until that perfect, tall, tan girl
with the natural tits showed up. So when the perfect use arises,
they have nothing left. No matter how pointless or weak a movie
is the studios will slap on "powerful." It's just too much work
guarantee you that some dick called the latest Bruce Willis movie
"powerful." I don't know whether he meant it has the power to emotionally
move people, to change the world or maybe just to get you out of
your seat and down to the manager's office to demand a refund. I'm
sure he didn't mean any of them; he used it because he's a fucking
lazy, unimaginative shithead who didn't want to spend the time thinking
of the appropriate words.
a load of horseshit. It's like the assholes who call crappy movies
"non-stop laughs." Really? You couldn't stop laughing, not even
for one second? Not even during the awkwardly dramatic scene where
the guy finally reveals his love to the girl? I'd pay to see some
of these quote whores always "rolling in the aisles." Seriously,
have you ever seen someone laugh so hard he fell out of his chair
and convulsed? I saw a kid do it once, but that was during Pokemon,
and it was just a seizure so it probably doesn't count.
are lazy and they'd rather exaggerate to get what they want than
tell the truth. They think nobody will pay attention to the truth
because it just won't sound glamorous, alarming or incredible enough.
Or maybe it won't be justification enough for the result they want.
If a movie is moderately funny, some asshole tells you he was pissing
his pants and busting his guts. If a neighbor sees you naked with
a hammer out by the dumpster, she has to tell 9-1-1 that you've
gone nuts, threatened her with a knife and are masturbating into
an open Volkswagen just so they'll respond. When the cops arrive
you have to calmly explain to them that you drank some rubbing alcohol
filtered through stale bread and were having a bad reaction, so
everything is cool, officer. I'll go inside in a minute.
said that, holy fuck is the Brazilian movie City of God powerful.
This movie is so fucking good, so beautiful and violent and sad
and moving that it reminded me how stories told well can transport
me and make me feel. This is the beautiful, genuinely-nice girl
at the strip club who really does like you and that you're glad
you saved up for.
City of God is a slum in Rio de Janeiro built by the government
to house the poor and keep them out of sight of the tourists and
world in general. These slums are cheap, tiny houses crammed together
with no electricity or hot water, and the people who live there
are either low-wage workers or hoods. The hoods rob and steal, deal
drugs and kill. They have the money and the glamour. All the workers
have is their dignity. In either case, there's a damn good chance
of dying in the constant, amoral violence borne of desperation and
of God is the story of the rise of the most cold-blooded of
the hoods, told through the eyes of a kid struggling to stay on
the right track. Rocket (Alexandre Rodriguez) thinks the only reason
he's a good kid is because he's a coward. Little Z» (Leandro Firmino
de Hora) is his age and grows up with no conscience and a lust for
power. Before puberty, he's shot a motel full of people and laughed
while doing it.
de Hora's only goal in life is to rule the City of God. Robbing
and stealing is a means of survival, but as the 70s roll around
and drugs become prevalent it's clear to him that he needs to deal
to reach the top of the heap. In a single night, he kills every
team of drug dealers in the City and takes control of distribution.
He keeps control by killing anyone he doesn't like, and taking what
he wants. Firmino de Hora's right hand man is Benny (Philippe Haagensen),
a level-headed kid who is more interested in being cool than selling
drugs. He keeps Firmino de Hora is check and spends his money on
the latest Hang Ten T-shirts and James Brown records. Together they
rule until Haagensen decides to take his unbelievably beautiful
girlfriend (Alice Braga) away from all this shit. Christ, she's
the kind of girl I want to cover in hickeys. I mean, every square
inch until she as scratchy and lumpy as wool socks.
the same time, in the same slum, Rodriguez tries his own hand at
hoodlumism, only to find that his heart's not in it. He's too busy
with the same teenage problems the rest of us have: he wants a girlfriend,
to lose his virginity and not get shot. He takes a job delivering
newspapers and dreams of working as a news photographer.
de Hora's power in the City of God grows; so does his ego and he
becomes increasingly reckless and violent, even as he becomes more
isolated and lonely. Finally, he is confronted by the last remaining
independent drug dealer and the growing ranks of people whose family
members he's killed. This unleashes an all-out war and the City
of God is divided. The two sides recruit younger and younger kids
into their armies until ten-year olds carry guns and sell coke.
Rodriguez is the only person at the newspaper with access to the
City, and he is assigned to photograph the war, despite his fear
that he'll be killed.
of God was shot in a Brazilian slum, along the filthy streets
and between the crumbling tiny houses. There is an unfinished brick
wall that remains from the 60s to the 70s as the city grows around
it. The actors are mostly amateurs from the area. This could all
be a stunt, and it's the kind of thing that gives a movie some cache
it doesn't deserve. But, dammit, it works. It gives the movie realism
that outweighs the occasional weak line reading or overacting. (Actually,
the movie benefits from being subtitled, because it's harder to
sense if there is bad acting when you're as slow a reader as I am.)
I got the sense of the real slum's narrow streets and squalor, not
a backlot recreation of it. The problems are similarly real. What's
powerful is how the movie shows how good people get sucked into
crime. It shows the insidious affect of the illegal drug trade.
Most of all, though, it shows how kids growing up amongst killing
and crime don't know better than to avoid it. They love to pose
with their guns, they want to get their first taste of blood, and
they never have a chance to learn to respect the value of life.
a long movie, and as gory as the biowaste bins in a maternity ward.
I don't think I have ever seen a more unpleasantly violent film.
Yet, it isn't gratuitous; this is the hell these people live through.
There is a scene where Firmino de Hora gives two small kids who
stole chicken the option of being shot in the hands or in the feet.
Once they choose their hands, he shoots them in the feet. Hundreds
are killed, and it isn't glamorous Hollywood bloodshed. This shit
Fernando Mereilles and Kati∑ Lund use a few too many camera tricks,
and they're probably juggling more stories than necessary. Those
flaws are tiny, however compared to what the do right. That is,
they don't preach. You can't ask for anything more. They tell the
story through the eyes of a self-proclaimed coward who isn't proud
that he isn't a hood. They don't demonize anyone but the government
who built the environment. The slum is a shithole and they don't
need the characters saying that for us to figure it out. The characters
aren't looking for pity, and neither are the actors. The movie humanizes
them all, but doesn't ask us to like them. I almost felt for Firmino
de Hora when he finally got the nerve to ask a girl out and was
rejected. But it only makes him want to kill someone.
powerful. Fuck it's good. I can't think of anything really funny
to say, or even stupid. And usually I'm good at the latter without
even trying. See it if you can and you've got the stomach for the
violence because this is the kind of stuff that makes me forget
the last ten pieces of shit I had to sit through. Five Fingers
for City of God.
to tell Filthy Something?