|<< DC Notepad: Movin' On Up | This Idea Is ElimiGREAT! >>|
Movies: City of God
I told my friend to go see City of God. he asked "Is that about gangs?" When I told him it was, he said "I dunno, I've just about had it with organized crime films."
I told him not to worry. City of God is about crime, but it's about the most unorganized crime imaginable.
In fact, even labeling the groups of criminals show in the film -- thugs ranging from the petty to bloodthirtsty -- might be giving them too much credit. They are more like amoebic mobs, swallowing up lives, subdividing into factions, and completely lacking in anything approximating a brain or a central nervous system. Set in the slums of Brazil, the story focuses on a young boy named Rocket (one apparent upside to living on the streets of Rio de Janeiro is that you get a cool nickname), who lives life in orbit of some of the nastier elements of the neighborhood. Like all of his peers, the options available to Rocket are limited: do nothing and live in abject poverty, get an honest but low-paying job, or make some quick cash by engaging in the multitude of nefarious opportunities available.
While Rocket opts to do a little of all three, some of his friends specialize in one track or another. One such specialists is Lil' Dice, who we meet as a nine year old child and watch evolve into one of the most brutal drug lords in the game. Indeed, we get to witness the evolution of all the characters (those that don't get killed, any how), as the movie spans a dozen years of time. In this respect, City of God is reminiscent of Goodfellas, a film that clearly played some inspirational role in this, director Fernando Meirelles debut film.
But there are no "made men" in the City of God, no honor among thieves, no "mafia corporate ladder" for a wannabe gangster to climb. The gangs in this picture are manifestations of anarchy rather than hierarchy. The sheer randomness of the lifestyle is chilling, and violence is depicted as brutal, ubiquitous, and arbitrary. All this makes for a film that portrays the "gangster lifestyle" in the least romantic light possible.
City of God is the movie Gangs of New York should have been (and would have been, if Scorsese had stuck to the book instead of Hollywooding it up): a powerful portrayal of the destructive lure of crime, one that makes you thankful that the life depicted is one you can escape by simply leaving the theater.Posted on March 07, 2003 to Movies