Thursday, June 26, 2008

God's Town

Ribeiro, Andrea Barata, et al. Cidade de Deus City of god. [United States]: Miramax Home Entertainment, 2003.

I abhor violence and like kids so this movie seems on the surface to be the opposite of everything that I would want to watch in a movie. The story is basically the timeless tale of a slum druglord's hostile takeover, his salad days, and the war for territory that ends up killing nearly every one involved. The story is told in a series of shorter tales by the observer, Rocket, who ends up building his career as a photojournalist off of the pictures he takes of the gangs and the violence. The movie is based off of a true story and it feels bloody realistic. No one important to the plot is much over the age of 18, and a number of key players are small children who seem to view the war as a game. The body count is immense, but the stories are like puzzle pieces that snap neatly into place. Though some might claim this to be a lack of subtlety, I say it is more an abundance of candor. Though all of the gangs and the warfare is compelling (as the ever growing number of bloody Grand Theft Auto franchise has taught us) the true heart of this story isn't the main druglord Little Ze, nor is it the opposition forces Carrot and Knockout Ned. No, the real crux of the story, the reason why the movie is compelling is the little peep show we get into Rocket's life and his somewhat detached involvement, his bit part in the greater story. All of the actors are beautiful and believable and deliver their lines with an appropriate nakedness that one would imagine comes with that sort of life. So even though I have to turn my head almost every scene to avoid watching another child get their foot shot or another woman get raped I think this movie was worth watching what I could of it. Because sometimes a good story told well is worth a little discomfort, especially when that story is true.

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