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Apr 10, 2004
Fascists do it for the Fatherland.

Directed by: Fernando Mereilles
Starring: Alexandre Rodrigues, Liandro Fermino, Phellipe Haagensen

Well now, i have to say, this movie was completely robbed at the Oscars. I don't care what you think about Return of the King, this movie was much better directed, in fact, this movie has some of the best direction i have ever seen, and that's saying something.

City of God is a brazilian crime film which takes place in "the city of god", a very very very bad district of Rio De Janeiro. The main character is Rocket, a good kid trying to stay out of trouble, he wants to grow up and become a photographer. Then there's Lil Ze. Lil Ze is the king of all crime in the City of God, he's ruthless, ambitious, and stupid. Benny is the coolest hood in the City of God, he's Lil Ze's right hand man and often serves as a mediator between Lil Ze and other crime lords, etc. This is essentially, the story of Rocket and his struggle of growing up in the City of God and all the going's on at the time.

Fernando Mereilles is an absolute genius. The grainy look to the film, the way the color shows, perfectly fitting to the 1970's setting of the film. Every shot is meticulously worked to show the right angle, not one shot in the entire movie ever seems out of place.

The acting was all done by amateurs with no prior acting experience that they found in Brazil. All the actors do an absolutely amazing job, you won't even stop to think that they're actors, they're just people. I'm sorry i'm doing such a lovely job with this review but words really cannot do this movie justice.

However, a word to the wise, while i know that we here on the SA forums have strong stomachs and are all desensitized as gently caress, i'd like to warn you that this is a long movie, that feels like a long movie, and it's taxing to watch. This is the kind of movie that hurts when you watch it, and it leaves you uneasy afterwards at all that you've just witnessed. But i assure you, you MUST see this movie, it is one of the best i've ever seen and there's no excuse for you not to see it.

(for the record, i think the American dvd release is in June)

PROS: Amazing direction, stunning acting, a powerful film
CONS: very violent, very real, very hard to watch sometimes



Aug 31, 2003

You want a van? I get you a van.

one of the best foreign films that I've ever seen. I'm really looking forward to what Fernando Mereilles does in the future

I thought the director seemed like a... brazillian Guy Ritchie, or at least the style was apparent

insideoutsider fucked around with this message at 22:47 on May 3, 2004

Jul 11, 2002

Didn't really like it. Maybe because I am brazilian, or maybe because it was full of gimmicks.

NoneMoreNegative said:If you're going to vote this a 1, at least expand on what 'gimmicks' there are; being Brazillian will hopefully give you an insight into the film / characters / background that other people will find useful/interesting

Sorry about that.

vv Exactly what I meant as 'gimmicks'. The fast editing in it was just unoriginal. I think I would have enjoyed the film a lot more if it didn't have any though there are some parts that I just find completely uninteresting.

As for being for Brazil, I guesss that's just a bias I have. Not that I dislike my country's cinema, but there were many other films I've enjoyed more than City of God. This film got a lot of acclaim here and I really couldn't see why.

bmmello fucked around with this message at 22:04 on May 3, 2004

Mar 17, 2002

I thought this was a reasonably interesting film, and well acted; however, I'm not a fan of the directorial style. It's a tad too 'MTV' for my tastes. Not really a criticism, I just don't really enjoy fast cutting/super-saturated visuals. Had it been a little less frantic, I think I'd have got on with it better. I think for me it's a 3.

Dec 16, 2003
Raw Esoteric

This being the second Brazilian film I have ever seen in American theatres, I expected a lot out of it, and really enjoyed it. I haven’t seen any of these MTV movies that the style is being compared too, but I didn’t really mind it, although if it had been done differently I doubt it would have been worse. I was expecting this to be some Christian thing about Corcovado, so I almost skipped this completely when the theatre sent me the tickets. I was dead wrong in my assumption and I found this to be extremely interesting, this is one of my favorite foreign films so far.

Jun 23, 2003

This was an excellent movie. The story itself isn't all that original, but the way in which it was presented was. The direction and overall aesthetic style of this movie are incredible. Seeing this in theaters was definitely a jolting experience, it was basically a war movie. I would reccommend this to just about anyone.

Aug 13, 2003
Go Away!

I felt this was a very good movie overall; the story was, perhaps, a tad rehashed, but the directing was excellent.


Apr 19, 2002

This was by far one of the most original, enthralling, moving and loving movies I have seen in my life. A certain 5.

Aug 12, 2003

Goddamn, this movie was so good that I watched it twice in a row and made everyone I know watch it. I was completley blown away.

Arm Unit 700
Sep 13, 2003


It wasn't THAT violent, jeez. Great movie though, voted 4.

Sep 12, 2003

One of the better foreign movies to come out in the past few years. Unlike some of the other posters seem to, I didn't have any problem with the editing. I thought it helped give the movie a real vitality and energy. Combined with the mostly great amateur acting jobs, I think it did a good job of creating a whole, living slum. Otherwise, it's fairly violent, and if you're not a fan of stories with lots of hopping back and forth in time (although I personally don't think that it was used as a gimmick here), you may not like it. I gave it a 4.

Feb 7, 2003

I think this film is incredible. The sprawl of the story is impressive, going beyond most "rite of passage" films to show the evolution of a group of friends/peers within terrible social conditions. The script is well written and engaging; however, I think it's really the film's visual flair that pushes it into the 5.0 rating range. It feels like it has a sense of visual intensity that American/Hollywood films typically have trouble pulling off.

Rated: 5.0

Sep 9, 2003

Perform sex? Uh uh, I don't think I'm up to a performance, but I'll rehearse with you...

There may not be a better film out there.


Sep 16, 2002

I really enjoyed this one when I saw it in the theater. The camera work is spot on for sure. I really loved how the color and everything else in the movie changed along with the time. This movie was really well done and I agree that it got raped at the Oscars. I eagerly await the DVD release.


Dec 26, 2003

this happy little fella is steve

5.5 for me also. I first saw this round a friend's house a few months ago. Where any other time we might've been talking and laughing throughout, we just sat there and watched in silence throughout this. It's absurdly powerful at times, and it's just so, so well directed. The editing others are complaining about didn't bother me at all. It definitely shot right up to my of my favourite films ever.

I don't know what else to say, really. I'd give examples of some of the powerful scenes, but it's huge spoilers. I think yu'd know it if you saw it though.

Feb 9, 2003

Finally saw an advance DVD copy of this last night, and I don't think I've seen a movie that better depicts and sympathizes with its subjects. The director contradicts himself nicely, portraying his characters with all the affection in the world (with the exception of Li'l Ze, who has nothing affectionate about him), yet showing their horrible and violent acts for all the world to see.

Critcizing the movie for its fast editing and camera works is all right, but I believe people should be ready to accept that modern directors have found even more effective ways of photgraphing their subjects than what we saw in the 70s. In addition, just because a director uses a fast closeup doesn't mean he's emulating Guy Richie or David Fincher. Different directors are allowed to use the same techniques.

schmitty9800 fucked around with this message at 18:22 on Jun 7, 2004

Nov 23, 2002

Good, thrilling movie, although not that original imo. Just a (good) city gang movie. 4.5.

Sep 20, 2002

There are few times in ones life when they will experience any entertainment that will truly move them. This movie does that and more.

Great acting, great directing, amazing story. This is one everybody should see, it is very sad in parts, but also shows great signs of hope. A masterpiece.

Nov 17, 2002
Worthless on every possible level!

Just as a note City of God is out on DVD in the US!

I haven't seen it since last fall when I saw it in theaters so I'm a little hazy, but I distinctly remember being awestruck. I remember really enjoying the scenery and the use of color, the director successfully extends the aparant grittiness of Rio de Jinerio (I've never been there so I cannot say for sure).


Mar 2, 2001

SA's Brazilian Diplomat

I'm also a Brazilian but I disagree with bmmello. The movie is incredible, it portrays a very realistic view of how crime in the slums are down here. Sure, there are "movie-only" touches, but regardless of that it's raw and cruel just like real life in that place is.

Jul 20, 2003

Well that's weird.

Definitely the best foreign film I've ever seen.


Feb 4, 2004

by Livestock

This movie certainly got robbed.

The cinematography is amazing, from the angles/techniques used in telling the story to the use of color that seems to convey each scene perfectly.

The acting is wonderful, and all the characters are more than beilevable.

I cant say enough good things about this movie, but most people have already said so many good things about it I just wanted to chime in as well.

Mar 7, 2003

I absolutely love this movie, easily one of my favorites of all time.

One of my main problems with the criticisms I have seen for this movie is the feeling that it it's fast editing and cinematography were too gimmicky or were ripping off other directors. What people seem to be forgetting is that the movie is told and seen from the perspective of a photographer, so you're going to see a lot of quick shots of images, a lot of quick closeups and freezes, because thats how the narrator sees the world around him, it's an essential part of the story.

Easily one of the most creative and powerful movies I have ever seen, and I agree that it got ripped off at the Oscars this year. A definite 5.5 from me

nate fisher
Mar 3, 2004

We've Got To Go Back

this movie is proof that ROTK was not the best picture last year. this is by far the best movie i have probaly seen in years. cinematography? jesus christ simply amazing.

movies like this is why i love movies.

& yes i will give it 5.5/5.5 . it is the newest movie to enter my all time top 10.

Bloated Pussy
Jun 8, 2002

dont read my posts

Amazing acting, especially considering the lack of experience among most actors. Direction is original and entertaining, as is the cinematography. The story is compelling, engaging, and well-paced. It plays with the timeline a little bit, which is great (I have always loved when the first scene in a movie is also the last (or close to last). They stay away from Tarantino-ish timeline juggling, which I was thankful for. There are enough characters and subplots going on in City of God that additional confusion should've been avoided, and I'm glad it was. I did catch myself a few times asking my friend "wait, is that Carrot?" etc., but I never got lost.

City of God is a movie you can see once and be impacted immediately. The themes are upfront but still meaningful, especially at the end when you see the Runts killing Lil'Z and then creating a "hit list"... even though no one among them can read or write.. It's not a happy ending by any means, even though Rocket gets what he wants, he's the exception. The ghetto is still as terrible as when we are introduced to it.

I love that the movie opens with you wondering who Rocket is, and why he's trying to avoid Lil'Z, and then are treated to a 2 hour epic explaining exactly everything up to that moment. I felt the movie dragged a little bit during the story of the Trio, namely when the one member (forget his name) was living with the two women.

It is a little long, but I think it needs to be. There's no large part I'd want to cut out of this movie... maybe a scene here or there that I felt was unecessary but none really stick out.

5/5.5... absolutely excellent. I don't see why anyone would be concerned about the violence... it's really nothing compared to most movies. There's some gunfights and shots of dead bodies, but that's about it. If you've seen Se7en and Reservoir Dogs you've seen worse. I guess seeing the little kid(s) get shot was a little shocking, but not terrible..

I wish there were more films like this.

Aug 27, 2003

Med plutonium tvingar vi dansken på knä.

A very, very intense film. The innovative cinematography was really cool, even if I did get slightly tired of it towards the end - it's like my brain got exhausted trying to handle all the quick cuts and zooms.
It's a film that keeps you on the edge for the entire viewing, no matter if you allow yourself to be genuinely moved by the story and the characters or if you just want to enjoy the ride.
Not counting war movies, I don't think I've ever seen so many people get killed (on-camera) in a single movie. After a while, after yet another guy is shot for some ridiculous reason, you stop reacting to it, despite the realism; you get used to it, much like the thugs must have gotten used to it IRL.
I was really happy to see that Rocket made it through okay, even though nobody else did.
Also, watching the little kid get shot in the foot was horrible even though he didn't die, but that's probably because I've got a little brother about his age so I guess I can sympathize more than the average, callous, cold-hearted goon.

I can't find any weak points at all in this movie. The only (very minor) nitpick might be that I found it hard to keep track of all the characters, especially during the first half, but that doesn't really matter since it seems like everyone you get to know gets shot after a while anyway.

5/5, definitely.

To the Brazilians in this thread: is it really this bad?

Jun 29, 2003

Please put your hands together for Homosexuals the Gorilla!

I just finished watching this film and I'm reeling. This is a stunning film that succeeds on all fronts. It's a great story well told, it's full of memorable characters, and on top of that it's a powerful statement on the cyclical nature of violence. The City of God could easily stand in for every other violent society in the world. Plus it's a mostly true story, and the Runts grew up and formed the gang that currently runs the slums. And yes, they even have a hit list.

The last film that moved me this much was Monster, and it's a tossup which is the best film of last year. 5.5/5

edit: Anyone who enjoyed this film should see Menace II Society.

Horseface fucked around with this message at 19:32 on Jun 16, 2004

Sep 9, 2003

Perform sex? Uh uh, I don't think I'm up to a performance, but I'll rehearse with you...


Rolex_83 came out of the closet to say:

To the Brazilians in this thread: is it really this bad?

Not Brazilian, but I wrote a paper on the favelas and basically it is that bad. I read an interview with Fernando where he says that today they're even worse

the great deceiver
Sep 23, 2003

why the feds worried bout me clockin on this corner/
when there's politicians out here gettin popped in arizona

I just watched this movie and it was, without a doubt, the best movie I have seen in a very long time. The directing was fantastic and the editing/camerawork was great.

The scene where Steak'n'Fries has to shoot one of the little kids, both screaming and crying their eyes out, left me speechless. This is one of the most powerful and engrossing movies that I have ever seen.


Jan 21, 2001

Lipstick Apathy

I watched this movie 12 times before I went to Rio Last year. It's not this bad everywhere, but there is a huge dichotomy between the people who have money (some of the richest outside of the US and Saudi Arabia--think Coffee/Drug Moguls I guess) and the poor, and there are pockets of both IN rio. I was in a hotel about 3 blocks off of Ipanema beach, and there was a gangwar going on within "me hearing the gunshot" distance in some direction.

Edit: A funny story about this movie is that when it was originally Screened in Front of the Academy half of them walked out because it was too brutal, in their minds. When they were lambasted and the movie was basically deified by alot of reviewers, they watched it again. Should've been nominated for best picture, IMO. Mystic River was shittay.

xian fucked around with this message at 17:56 on Jun 20, 2004

Slow Boat
May 12, 2001

by Ozma


Horseface came out of the closet to say:
Plus it's a mostly true story, and the Runts grew up and formed the gang that currently runs the slums. And yes, they even have a hit list.

is there a place I can read about all this and the real story of whoever Lil Ze and Benny were based on (as well as pretty much any other character)

Anyways, this is one of the best movies I have seen. I just sat and watched it in silence. It was amazing how every part of the main character's story (if you think Rocket was the main character, which I do) was told through the story of someone else. I think the violence in the movie is overstated, I have seen 10 thousand movies more violent than City of God. Yea a little kid or two got shot, but nothing in that movie even stacks up to Pulp Fiction or hell, the lord of the rings trilogy (in my opinion). I think the violence was so realistic in the fact that when you saw it in the movie, you know poo poo like that happens in real life that made it so hard for people to stomach.

Anyways, go see this movie, loving amazing and all that

edit - About the Menace II Society horseface mentioned. The violence in that is kind of the same type. For instance, when Harrold got shot it really disturbed me because all he was doing was hanging out with his buddies at a stoplight and there was no loving reason for it to happen. I mean poo poo that could of been me and my buddies or you and your buddies on a Friday night. Just having a good time. In that respect, the scene I just mentioned is one of those scenes that will always bother me. It was so simple, so quick, and could happen to anyone just the same,

Slow Boat fucked around with this message at 23:08 on Jun 21, 2004

Sep 19, 2003

Excellent movie. I like the little intros into each character and the chapter like layout of the movie. "Raw" in a way, but that's an advantage in my mind...doesn't follow the typical Hollywood cookie-cutter made movie, so it made for a refreshing view on gangster life in Brazil. 4.5

Jun 21, 2004

When I die, I hope they say I made the eSports industry a better place than I made millions of dollars.

I guess it goes without saying that I loved this movie (<--icon). I watched it the first time on a Bootleg Download on my computer, because all the local theatres didn't pick it up and I had no options to see it on the big screen. After I watched it once, and then twice, and then thrice, I vowed to buy it when it came out on DVD. I was at a Borders on an early tuesday morning in March when it was originally slated to be released on DVD. When the clerk told me it was being pushed by to a June release because of the Oscars I think I audibly chained together a string of profanity in the open media room of Borders that would have made a sailor blush.

That being said, it is right up there with my favorite movies of all time. Crime is my favorite film genre, and this one is right up there with the all-time greats.

One thing I wanted to know though, and maybe someone here has more information: Was the kid who played Rocket (Alexander Rodrigues) related to the actual photographer who the story was based on? It mentions something about a Wilson Rodrigues in the credits. Is the kid who plays Rocket, the son of the actual Rocket?

Anyways, two thumbs up, 5 stars, great movie.

May 22, 2004


I don't think he was, most (if not all) the actors were picked from the streets. The bit where Rocket is talking to the woman about not having a bath was just taken from a conversation the two were having then it was put into the film.

I liked it. Even though the story of the trio was a little slow I liked the colour-scheme.


Nov 19, 2002


Just finished watching this movie.

It failed to unseat Amores Perros as my favorite foreign film but it's probably now my second favorite (that being said, I don't watch a lot of foreign). It's not really all that shocking visually but mentally, it's quite tough to envision this as being a true story although I'm sure it is. It seems really brutal that all of this would be even worse today.

This movie is definitely a great portrayal of the neverending cycle of gang violence. It transcends its location and it can probably be applied to many other developing locales in the world today as well.


all knowing arno
May 6, 2004
something that sounds kinda cool

I think it is one of the most amazing movies I´ve seen so far. I wasn´t bored one second throughout the whole film.
I recommend seeing it in a theater!

The most amazing thing about this movie is, that all the actors come from this slum and all the stories are true, to a certain extend at least.

I give it a 4.5

Apr 18, 2004

This film is outstanding. The quality of the acting in it blew my mind - how come Mereilles can find slum-dwelling street kids from 6 to 20 years old capable of pulling off performances like this, but the studios behind Star Wars Ep.1 and Harry Potter can only find hothouse brats that couldn't act their way out of an alligator's colon?

Was even more pleased that it didn't have a de rigeur `down' ending - I don't always want to leave a film feeling miserable. Though Knockout Ned's story is plenty tragedy for one film anyway. He was my fave character in this film.


Oct 13, 2003

I voted this one a 4. It has good music.

And a scene where a little black kid shoots innocent people during a robbery, while having the time of his life!

double negative
Jul 7, 2003

Definitely a 5. I thought it started off a bit slow with the story of the trio, but god drat did it pick up.


Sep 11, 2001

Just caught this film on DVD. I was told it was a great film by so many people before I watched it. It certainly lived up to the hype for me. Such amazing direction and camera work. I can't recommend this film enough.


Spiff fucked around with this message at 08:08 on Jul 28, 2004

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