Realistic and impressive version of a book; about violence, love and friendship between kids in the notorious slums of Rio, told with great pace and a splash of glamour.
Cidade de Deus is an overwhelming film about the life of the notorious outer suburb of Rio de Janeiro of the same name, based on a book by Paulo Lins. Meirelles did not make the film overly sober: he uses a dynamic, non-linear narrative structure and images that can even be described as glamorous. Yet the film always stays close to reality. This is largely thanks to the powerful acting by the young cast, who come from the district themselves. The multitude of characters and events in the book have now been reduced for the film adaptation to one single clear storyline. The film, just like the book, is a mosaic of stories about violence, love and friendship. Rocket, one of the protagonists, is the alter ego of writer Lins, a kid who manages to escape from the hopeless situation of the favela. In the late 1960s, Rocket and Zé are eleven and gaze in admiration at Shaggy and his gang. After the death of Shaggy, it is Zé’s turn. He shifts the field of operation of the gangsters (none of them over fourteen) from robberies to dealing drugs. Aged eighteen, Zé is the biggest gangster in town. Rocket is by now doing a training course, but also commits robberies in his spare time. When the 1980s dawn, Zé is over the top, but Rocket finally seems able to realize his childhood dream. –IFFR
Among the prominent Latin filmmakers to have emerged during the late-20th and early-21st centuries, director Fernando Meirelles has perhaps been the most critically acclaimed of them all-no small feat when his contemporaries have included Walter Sales, Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Amenabar. With his breakout feature, the Oscar-nominated “City of God” (2002), a violent and kinetic film about drug-dealing gangs in the slums of Rio de Janiero, Meirelles displayed a flair for stylized camera moves, rapid editing and gritty realism-elements that soon became trademarks. A one-time commercial director, Meirelles has taken a non-traditional approach to filmmaking, using barebones crews, non-actors in major roles and major stars as camera operators for point-of-view shots. The results have been some of the most stunning and vibrant films to have emerged from south of the Rio Grande.
Born and raised in San Paolo, Brazil in a middleclass home, Meirelles spent a great deal of his youth traveling… read more
Kátia Lund (b. 1966 in São Paulo) is an American-Brazilian film director and screenwriter. Her most notable work was as co-director of the film City of God.
Lund’s parents are Americans who emigrated to Brazil before she was born. She graduated from Escola Maria Imaculada, an American Catholic school in São Paulo where she excelled in art. She then attended Brown University where she became interested in filmmaking. After she graduated magna cum laude, she landed jobs as an assistant director on many music videos, commercials and films. Having grown up in a middle-class family, she had little knowledge of the plight of those living in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. Then, she was hired to work on the Spike Lee-directed music video for Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” which was filmed in a favela. The experience opened her eyes and she became determined to make films about the dwellers of these poor neighborhoods to help raise social consciousness in Brazil. She… read more
Also (not sure why MUBI has a word limit for original posts but not the comments), but if you want a more serious look at the history of the favelas and the problems there, make sure and watch News From A Personal War, which is a documentary included with most DVD copies of City of God.
Though I agree with many of the complaints lodged at City of God (romanticized, lacking subtlety, lack of verisimilitude, basically a Western, etc), I really enjoy this movie. It's just entertaining and unique. Plus it is one of those few films that has enormous crossover appeal to people who normally shy away from foreign films (like Oldboy, Y Tu Mama Tambien, etc.)
Few films that come out nowadays go the distance to include every major aspect of a great film. Not going to go into much detail regarding characters/plot. Everyone else will cover that in their reviews… read review