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on 17 April 2017
PLEASE please please please don't let the fact that this film is subtitled for English put you off watching it as it did for my dad! I'm studying this film for my A2 film class at college, but aside from that it is an incredible film. It is thrilling, fast-paced and exiting. One of the directors of this film has experience in music videos, and the film has a similar feel to it with vibrant colour, quick cuts and a never faltering narrative. Highly recommend this!
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on 14 April 2017
brilliant movie.
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on 18 August 2017
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on 3 July 2017
Perfect. Thanks, Jose
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on 23 September 2003
Brilliant brilliant film... i list it as my favourite of all time. The story line, the lay out, the cinematography, the acting is all fantastic! Dont let the subtitles put you off, it just pulls you in and you will not want to take your eyes off the screen so reading the subtitles isnt that difficult and it becomes easy to do so as you get more and more into the film. I saw this on cinema and i can not wait to get my dvd on it. I rarely watch films twice but this is one i could watch again and again it is so good!
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on 12 February 2004
The film itself is a classic, obviously- but the DVD, empty of the usual extras like commentary, has a truly superb, hour long documentary on the brazillian favellas and their evolution into permanent war zones, using interviews from the perspectives of drug dealers, (the heavily armed and corrupt) police, and the residents. This makes it clear that the film does not exaggerate- in fact judging by some of the chilling interviews here it might have toned down some of the violence. The terrible conditions seem to produce psychopath after psychopath, and police and rival gangs are locked into continuous spirals of killing and revenge. This extra adds real moral weight to the film- the slums are maintained to keep the underclasses under control, and death is early and meaningless. It is a world which normal human emotions penetrate little if at all. Perhaps this is why the directors used a sensationalist style in the film. It seems to fit the excitement and pride the real gang members are taught to feel in killing; you are left with the feeling that the stories need to be told as they were/ are experienced.
Unexpected and revealing.
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on 6 June 2017
Almost too graphic, very long and this detracts from the impact. The dead pan narration does not help. Still a must see to understand how cheap life is in the favelas.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 August 2017
Brazilian film-maker Fernando Meirelles burst onto the global cinema scene in 2002 with this fast-moving, visceral tale of gangland Rio de Janeiro and the film remains a remarkable piece of film-making, 15 years on. City of God is certainly not for the faint-hearted, with its high body count and themes of widespread child corruption and coercion set against a backdrop of poverty and state failings, even if Meirelles and co-director Kátia Lund’s tale is based on the real-life experiences during the 1960-80s of Paulo Lins, as captured in his semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. That said, the violent power struggles depicted, in which Leandro Firmino da Hora’s vicious sociopath, Li’l Zé, seeks to eliminate all competition to his drug-dealing empire, are tempered to some extent by Alexandre Rodrigues’s 'heroic’ central figure and narrator, Rocket, and his attempts to resist the lure of peer pressure criminality in order to pursue his ambition of becoming a photographer, as well as losing his virginity along the way.

For me, though, what sets City of God significantly above its (perhaps) superficially formulaic set-up is the film’s exhilarating style. Key components of this are cinematographer César Charlone’s stunning work, mixing fast-edited, hand-held urban shots with some sublime, leisurely (principally beach-set) moments, Bráulio Mantovani’s sharp screenplay mixing the brutally tragic and darkly comic, and the film-makers’ masterly management of what is essentially a cast of acting novices (mainly taken from Rio’s favelas, including the suburb (housing project), Cidade de Deus, portrayed in the film), particularly during the many vibrant ensemble scenes. The film’s visual style is further distinguished by the use of time-lapse dissolves, freeze-frames and repeated sequences shot from different character points-of view. In contrast to the film’s stark portrayal of violent vendettas and retribution there are some nice moments of reflection – often between Rocket and the object of his affection, Alice Braga’s Angelica – and comedy – the restraining influence on Li’l Zé, Phellipe Haagensen’s Benny, often featuring here. Undoubtedly one of the film’s highlight sequences, which tops and tails Meirelles’ tale, is that of the distraught, fleeing chicken, which sets up the film’s final showdown and intriguing twist.

As comparator films, Goodfellas has been cited and I would add Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Amores Perros, particularly the first segment. In terms of the disenfranchised, urban backdrop, I would also add the film La Haine and TV’s The Wire, although Meirelles’ film does not quite get inside the characters as much as the former and (obviously) does not match the scope of the latter.
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on 2 March 2017
All fine, no problems
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on 3 December 2015
You can't fail to admire the sheer panache of the film-making here, and the control of a number of narrative strands, moving back and forth over time, is managed with absolute clarity, owing to the deft use of voice-over linking narration by "Rocket," the young man who becomes a journalistic photographer rather than a gang member because he has a sharp eye and no appetite for violence. On the other hand, though, this is a film about violence -- about a gang war for control of the drug business in the Rio de Janiero slum that gives the movie its title -- and, more troublingly, about the corruption of children in an environment where the order of life is controlled by lawless people. The narrator doesn't preach about that -- he just moves the story along -- and the success of the movie is that our appreciation of the sheer artistic boldness of the film-making doesn't get in the way of our horror at the situation. The film is anything but a mess -- at times, it's more like a dance -- but the chaos and damage of life in the slum don't seem prettified or minimized by the formal control of the film-making.

Rocket's escape from the violence is more a matter of luck than anything else, and he isn't presented as heroic. In fact, the sub-plot concerning his anxiety about losing his virginity makes him seem a bit lame, if anything. The violent characters are vivid figures rather than interesting characters, but they're still capable of engaging us. The morphing of L'il Dice into L'il Ze is chilling -- clearly a sociopath from the cradle -- and the hardening of the charming Knockout Ned into Ze's would-be nemesis is as close as the movie comes to tragic feeling. But minor characters are vivid and distinct too, especially Benny, Carrot, Goose, and the hopeless addict Tiago. The narrative builds to a climactic street battle among rival gangs, though the tempo is very different from the similar narrative trajectory of the previous movie I viewed, "Lawless." It's a battle where Rocket comes into his own and where Ze meets his fate in a way that is as unexpected as it is frightening.
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