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City of God R2 - My Review

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Dimmy, Oct 18, 2003.

  1. Dimmy

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    If ever there were an excuse for your average film-loving citizen to learn to speak fluent portugeuse, this is it.

    Being set in the 'City Of God' - a slum for the politically declaimed effluent of Brazil's Postcard Perfect Rio De Janeiro - the necessity for subtitles means this film admittedly isn't going to appeal to everybody. Least of whom are those who stuggle to condure up enough patience to sit through trailers in the movie theatre (trailers which, incidentally, provide 20 minutes of litter on this DVD before you can even access the Interactive Menu - although, fittingly, not a trailer for City Of God itself is included).

    If, like myself, you don't belong to this latter category of movie-goer, I'd urge you to spend some of your pennies on this, most fabulous of foreign films, and settle with the subtitles.

    The film traces the youth, and is told through the eyes of, Rocket. A kid who enjoys photography and spends much of his childhood speculating dangerously close to a bullet-ladden life of drug crime, power-struggles and cocain-induced hysteria.

    Through Rocket's eyes, we are taken on an awe-inspiring and visually appeasing journey through life in The City Of God. Cutting-edge cinematography and one hell of a soundtrack to boot entice you painfully close to conceiding that the film's content is utterly cool. The movie effortlessly permits understanding the appeal of this life-of-crime to the city's youth by placing you in the thick-end of cinematic spectacle, forcing you to aspire on some level to the glamourisation of what's on screen.

    Whilst at the same time you're snapped backwards by scenes of black comedy so eerily realistic you feel guilty for watching them.

    The DVD itself isn't superbly presented, and has packaging which is distinctly ordinary. But the quality of print is extremely pleasing. Whilst it's difficult to distinguish at times what aspects of the picture are intentional and which arise through imperfections with the picture transfer, picture quality remains near-reference level, and acts as the perfect showcase for the film's all-important cinematography and colour pallette.

    The soundtrack is equally impressive. Whilst it's never going to blow you away with big Hollywood SFX, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack remains convincing and coherent at all times.

    To summarise, this is a film any self-respecting film-buff has to buy. Whilst the press remain insistent on baring City Of God with comparisons with Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas and the like. I remain insistent that this is as equally important a film event as Reservoir Dogs and The Matrix, and in my view provides the most important cinematic event thus far of the new millennium.
     
  2. Bristol Pete

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    I agree with you totally.

    Kind of reminded me of Guy Ritchie film fused with everything that Tarantino does best, although that is a little obvious.

    celluloid story telling at its very best,

    Cap:)
     
  3. Dimmy

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    Cap - your analogy is much better than the over-used 'Brazilian Goodfellas'.

    It's interesting that two completely different directors, who (most likely) haven't borrowed from eachothers works, can have cinematic formulae and styles that are echoed in each others' work. The fractured time-sequence of tarantino's work is reflected directly or indirectly in The City Of God, and the slick-n'-quick Guy Richie style of cinematography also bares resemblence to that of City Of God.

    It's even more fascinating when you remember that all three of the mentioned directors make films which are set, represent and convey completely different cultures.
     
  4. Bristol Pete

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    and clearly making us all aware that despite the hollywood glamourisation of similar subject matter, the fact is that guns kill people:lesson:

    Blimey, I am turning into Michael Moore !

    Its funny really, when you see a film so emotive as City of God, you have to question why pap movies like 'the Core' ever get made.

    Like you said, see past the subtitles and you will have a rewatchable eduaction in the art of movie making. We need to picket blockbusters and advise people to see this film. Mind you I love subtitled movies, notably run lola run, CTHD, La femme Nikita and so on.

    Cap:smashin:
     
  5. Dimmy

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    Cap - I think there's something about reading words on a screen which makes both their context and subtext much more profound.

    I can understand what you're saying about how you enjoy subtitled movies.

    Whilst the visualisation of City Of God was clearly glamourized, it's impossible to add pizzazz to subtitles, and thus the film was rock steady and conveyed its own teachings superbly.
     
  6. tee

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    Finally got round to watching it on Firday night........ what a film! I absolutly loved every minute of it. The only down side is I watched the R3 DTS and not the R2. Yes the sound was excellent, but I really want to watch the doc found on the UK release...
     
  7. Dimmy

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    Tee - you're not missing much, I didn't think the documentary was great (seemed like something stripped off of Bravo or ITV).

    Glad to hear you liked the movie :)
     
  8. FWA.jr

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    No way Guy Ritchie cant touch this. His cinematographer for Lock Stock yes, but not Ritchie. And very little Tarantino.

    If it could be compared to anyone direction it would be Scorsese but most of the style in City of God comes from the brilliant editing. So much energy.

    Why does stuff like the Core et al get made? Because people watch them, like them and buy the DVD for the Dolby 5.1 EX.:rolleyes:
     
  9. Dimmy

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    FWA.jr - the question and point raised wasn't to compare between directors & see who was best.

    Myself & Cap were simply highlighting that each of the aforementioned directors provide stylistic and sequential elements in their films which have an interesting resemblence to each other.

    I can't see any resemblence to 'Scorsese' and his style of movie making in City Of God, maybe the vivid colour pallettes, but that's all. I'd be interested to know where you spot resemblence however :).
     
  10. FWA.jr

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    Most obviously in the way he handles an array of characters. We get to know the buy their relationship with another. Also the way he distances the camera a lot. Everyone copares it a lot to Goodfellas, like the god damn tag line that appears on ever bit of packaging or promotion for this film. In terms of both films structure, I think this is true but its more than that. In the same way that Boogie Nights is very similar to Goodfellas its more to do with the progression of the characters arcs despite the fact that 5 years of time can pass in a few minutes. Everything still feels in its place. A good screenplay is a strong part of achieving this but its also something that cant be acomplished in the editing room - which is where I think this film gets a lot of its 'style' which can be deceptive. You have to strip this away to get a look at what direction is actually going on. Thats why I ogt a bit touchy about Ritchie. If you strip the style away from Lockstock you're left with a decent yarn and not much else. This film actually has substance beyond its style. The director has done a great job. Personally I dont think Ritchie could have came close to City of God as we know it, if he'd had the job.
     
  11. Dimmy

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    Maybe the fact that City Of God was based on the book of the same name had more to do with the introduction of characters that the directorial style? - Plus the movie is told through Rocket's eyes, therefore we have to learn of characters and their backgrounds through their relationship to him, and their impact on his life.

    I don't think script writing and character introducing in either case is something you can completely praise the directors for.
     
  12. Dimmy

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    Which is why Lock Stock is the film it is and why City Of God is the film it is.

    I'm not questioning and I'm really not interested as to whether each director could have done the other's works well.

    They're both independently great films and there's little need to question 'what if' is there?

    I just thought it an interesting concept of the resemblence between each's stylings when each represents a completely different milestone of the Film Market, Film Culture and Storytelling style.
     
  13. FWA.jr

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    True. But Im saying the same thing as you here. Its hard to distill the essence of the directors impact on a film and I think its easier to see what they dont do. In looking at it that way, you realise that the Director of City of God and Scorsese are a lot more subtle than Guy Ritchie.

    I dont like Lock Stock as a film. When you look at it, the characters are way too obvious and acted terribly. Its not even in the same league as City of God. Its just far to shallow and laddish. Its like a comic book. Even though City of God has comic-book-like names such as Knockout Ned, the character still has depth (which in a way is siilar to Tarantino's writing).
     
  14. Dimmy

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    So from what you're saying, the directorial styles involved in City Of God and - say - Casino impose less character on the movie itself and let the story tell itself, whereas Guy Ritchie's works buff it up with - well - Guy Ritchieness to make a story more than it is?
     
  15. FWA.jr

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    Where Guy Ritchieness = ham and cheese. Yes. The end result being a movie that is far too gimicky for its content and has little resonance.
     
  16. Dimmy

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    Yes but, by the same token, you could argue that guy ritchie's films aren't supposed to have resonnance or anything beyond the glamour of what you're seeing, they are, in every single way, amusing popcorn movies.

    And I think you're incorrectly interpreting that - by saying his styles are reflected in City Of God - this is how I perceive elements of City Of God as being.
     
  17. FWA.jr

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    Not at all. I was just differentiating the impact of different proffessions on a film. I dont think there's little basis for comaprison between the two other than the stylistic editing.

    Sure, maybe Ritchies films aren't meant to have any resonance. For me thats not good enough, especially from a film thats 'too big for its britches'. Putting a football player in a lead role does not bode well for my personal entertainment. "Oh isnt it funny that his son follows him around and Vinnie tells him to watch his language".

    Anyway City of God is a great film.
     
  18. Dimmy

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    Yes it is a great film :)

    It's unfortunate you didn't like Guy Ritchie's work though, admittedly you're never going to be able to watch it over & over and find deeper meaning or intreaguing resonnance, but I found Lock Stock and Snatch hilarious and bloody entertaining :D
     
  19. TheBigApple

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    I don't usually have the paitence to sit through films with subtitles, especialy player generated ones. But I caved in and rented City of God last night after all the positive things I'd heard in all the many top 10 films of the year lists.

    If anyone hasn't watched this film yet go and rent it now. Ignore the lazy marketing tag of "The Brazilian Goodfellas". This is an excellent peice of filmaking in its own right.

    One thing that really struck me was the way the different characters handle the situation around them. From Rocket's attempts at trying to be part of the in crowd, and eventually his intelligence stops him from killing and then the realisation that he does not want in.

    Then the polar opposite the portrayal of Lil' Ze was equally as good, here is a character who actually gets a kick out of killing. Don't want to give away to much, but I don't think there can be a single person who won't be shocked by the scene where he gets one of the local runts to make a choice.

    Highly recommended.
     
  20. puddleduck

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    I watched my cheap R3 copy a couple of nights ago, and thought this was my film of 2003 so far.

    Really good, and you are so drawn into the story and characters, you don't notice its all in another language, and the film just transcends the spoken word.
     
  21. Dimmy

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    I wasn't shocked :D.

    Glad to read you liked the movie, and yes, the 'Brazillian Goodfellas' was a rather lazy tag to tie the movie to.

    Empire magazine would agree with you, they placed it as the best film of the year.

    I hear what you're saying about the Portugeuse not bothering you. Infact, when I try and recall the film, I often remember scenes as being spoken in english, even though they weren't. Weird!

    Dimmy
     
  22. Drunken Master

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    The thing that impressed me the most was the fact the actors weren't trained actors. Paul Walker you have a lot to learn my wooden friend.

    On the whole I think that 2003 was one of the best years for movies. It's good to see the emergence of non-US films, and there highly creative writers and directors, the new Harry Potter film being Directed by Alfonso Cuarón of Y Tu Mama Tambien fame is a prime example.

    And long may it continue.
     

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