A/V Room









City of God (Cidade De Deus) (18)

Review: Simon Bell | Rating: 2

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes; Theatrical trailer; Production notes; Making of featurette 'Building A Better Mask'; Visual and special effects; Animation menus.

THE latest Star Trek may be out, but my bet's on the non-Trekkies checking out this gangster flick from Brazil. It's Cidade De Deus and follows two boys growing up in a violent city neighbourhood who take different paths: one becomes a skilled photographic journalist, the other a drug dealer with all the charm of a junkyard dog.

Well the posters say it's about guns, drugs, fashion, music, love and friendship. What more could you ask for from a trip to the flicks? City of God definitely has everything. Think Goodfellas put through a blender with Pulp Fiction and Amores Perros and then splashed across the dangerous streets of Rio De Janeiro's housing projects.

It's pretty violent, but directed with utter style, driven by a pacey narrative and charts the rise of the drugs bosses who, over three decades, took control of 70 or so ghettoes each and waged war on a grand scale.

Watching the young actors as kids growing up into ghetto godfathers is mesmerizing. The film-makers conducted two thousand auditions - all of them with amateurs - in downtown Rio (they couldn't shoot in the real City of God… it's too dangerous). They then rehearsed for ten months with the first-time performers, with not once letting them look at a script!

Anyway, check out Alexandre Rodrigues as Buscapé in particular, although Leandro Firmino da Hora as Zé Pequeno, his former best mate, gives the protagonist a run for his (laundered drug) money.

American films are being taken over by foreigners, says the director Fernando: Harry Potter III will be helmed by Mexican, Alfonso Cuaron (he of Y Tu Mama Tambien success), while Hulk will be made angry by Ang Lee. One wonders what will this mean for Meirelles, the latest bright spark from the surging New Latin American Cinema? Well, he says he's already had tons of offers from Hollywood… and turned every one of them down.

City's soundtrack is pretty meaty too. Mixed in with James Brown and Kool & The Gang there's hip hop, funk and deep Brazilian beats. So forget the fact it's got subtitles, because this is easily going to be one of indielondon's best films of the year.

And it's also been nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Foreign Film. So there.

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