Tuesday, September 2, 2008
City of God
MUST-SEE: (Fernando Meirelles) From the director who brought us 2005's Constant Gardener and this month's thriller, Blindess, it's one of his earlier works, City of God, that gives him a reputation among movie-watchers for a unique beauty within tragic darkness. Here, he illustrates Paolo Lins' novel of the same name, based on actual events among gangs in the forgotten Brazilian city. Young boys growing up in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, a city starved of electricity, running water, or the chance for a better existence, the children are left with hood life to keep their attention. Narrator Rocket is one of few who avoided a life of crime and instead focuses on photography, running his life aside members of the most dangerous gangs, eventually serving as an involuntary embedded journalist for the big city's paper. The film is heartbreaking, filled with nauseating suspense and merciless violence; but at the very least, it grasps the beauty and potential within the hearts of a lost innocence. Lins highlights details of the troubled boys and the morals that are constantly questioned a world with no rules. He solidifies that fact that you're allegiance constantly shifts, introducing good people who kill and bad people who rule. He paints fear through the eyes of a young hood getting his foot shot off and then killed by a member of his own gang, or another young boy joining the gang to kill his own father's murderer. The sadness exists in the innocence of children lost completely at no fault of their own. But with director Meirelles vision to match Lins story-telling, the tone simmers with triumph, humor rounds out an intolerable lifestyle, and the moral doesn't even get a turn on the totem pole. The motif reflects the negligence the boys have for a future. It reveals their ignorance to the possibility of a life without guns, without killing your enemies as the answer to problems, and living completely in the present. As young as 7, the thought of justice, respect and of morality are lost, erased to make room for vengeance and superiority. Rocket serves as the one unbiased voice to recount the details of his troubled town. As one who grew up with the hood for friends, but now serves as the photographer to document their progress, Rocket recounts as though it were a bedtime story. City of God, based on actual events of the real-life Rocket, journalist Wilson Rodriguez, is a film not to be overlooked. It is a wake-up call to what happens in the slums, a slap in the face for what happens on the other side of the tracks, the mindset that intrinsically exists within a hard-knock. Take your strong stomach and a expect to leave with a heavy heart, but rest assured the magic that happens onscreen, between a unique kind of innocence and raw emotion will leave you hugely impacted, eerily content in your own reality, and genuinely enthused for the survivors, how few they may be.