Friday, April 28, 2006

City of God: the review

Cidade de Deus, the City of God, a housing project started sometimes in the 60s in Rio that went dangerously bad and created one of the most terrifying and violent slum neighborhoods the world had ever seen (true story btw). This is the place where being a gangster is a way of life, killing people is the only way for a 13 year old to prove that hes now a man, this is where a 10 year old finally fulfills his lust to be a true man by killing of a bunch of people in a motel .
There are movies that hit you in the gut and numb your senses, movies that make you pause and think, movies that leave you with a knot in your stomach . Fernando Meirelles' Cidade de Deus is one those celluloid masterpieces that falls into this elite category. I chanced upon the movie at a SFO joint and thank God for it.

The events unfold through the eyes and the voice of a slim,black slum boy Rocket, a boy whose too weak to take up the chosen profession of his neigborhood, being a gangster, a boy who sees the girl hes mad about fall in love with the coolest gangster in the neigborhood, a boy who is too weak to avenge his brother's murder, a sacrilege in the City of Gods. Through his narration we see how Little Benji a 10 year old kid grows upto become one of the undisputed kingpins of the neighborhood, we see how knockout Ted a jovial bus conductor turns into a gangster when Little benji murders half his family, through his artistic eyes and his sole beloved possession, a worn and beaten camera we see the gang war that erupts in the City of God and the stupendous pace at which kids in the City of God race towards their doom .

The most terrifying thing about COG though, is its complete indifference to violence. Violence and murder are as normal as waking up in the morning and going to the loo. And thats where this movie scores over its more well known predecessors.

For me the star of the movie is the 10 year old Little Benji. Perfectly cast with a raspy voice and toothy grin, the 10 year old kid redefines violence. Check out the scene where he walks around a motel killing everyone in sight and laughing his raspy laugh, with glee. Also do not miss the scene where Little Benji now all of 18, rechristened Little Ze and the undisputed lord of COG, sets out to teach his challengers a lesson, "Where do you want to take the shot , in the hand or the foot?". The challengers by the way are a bunch of 10 year old kids, who dream of doing what Little Bemji once did to take over the gangster business, kill everyone so that there is no one left but them to run the business.

If you havent already seen it go see it now. Oh and if anyone has read the book let me know how it is, Im planning to buy it.

Cult Lines:
10 yr old Boy 1: The big deal is dope, you got it?
10 yr old Boy 2: If you wanna be a dealer, you gotta start as a delivery boy, see?
Boy 1: This delivery boy business is real bullshit. The time it takes being a delivery boy, then security and then manager, is way too long.
Boy 2: What you gonna do? You've gotta wait for them to die...
Boy 1: No way! I'll do it just like Lil Benji did, whack everyone and that's it!

Rocket : That night, Li'l Benji killed his dream of kill. (after benji murders a much of people in the motel)

Cabeleira: Bernice. Listen, I've got something real important to say. Tell me, you ever heard of love at first sight?
Berenice: Sure, but bums don't fall in love, they just get horny.
Cabe: C'mon, you cut everything I say to pieces.
Berenice: Bums don't talk, they just vomit words.
Cabe: Jesus, I'm gonna stop wasting my saliva on you, you sure ain't easy.
Berenice: Bums never stop, they just take a break.
Cabe: Jeez, Bernice, talking about love with you is pretty complicated, isn't it?
Berenice: Love, you gotta be kidding. You're just leading me on.
Cabe: But it's just that this jerk here loves you.

Knockout Ted: Have you lost your mind? You are just a child!
Steak and Fries: Listen man, I smoke, I snort, I've been begging on the street since I was just a baby. I've cleaned windshields at stop lights. I've polished shoes, I've robbed, I've killed. I ain't no kid, no way. I'm a real man.

Scarface Say hello to my new li'l friend, Smashing!!!!


sau said...

difnt this movie get the 2002 best foreign movie award as well as the venice award too??

cupid said...

Paulo lins' book is definitely woth a buy, but i think the movie was much better in its raw depistions of violence.

Anonymous said...

Read about the movie on imdb and times and seems it comes highly recommended. Definitely planning to rent it this weekend. Thanks for the tip

priya said...

I liked Benny best. Especially the scene where he gets shot and Lil Ze cries out for perhaps the only person he ever cared of. Also the love scene at the start was great too!!

rxm said...

Didnt this movie get the 02 Oscars for the Best foreign film as well as the Golden bear?

orkut said...

There are also some real cool actual newsreel footage interwoven in the movie,particularly knockout ted and Lil benjy. A must watch movie i think.

riddhi said...

Lil ze rocks the movie

jaded said...

Dude Scarface is greater than any other gangster flick ever made. I havent seen city of gods, but im sill pretty sure that nothing will come close to it.

chimes said...

cool. will check out city of god and scarface.

i want to see tsotsi. "Set amidst the sprawling Johannesburg township of Soweto - where survival is the primary objective - TSOTSI traces six days in the life of a ruthless young gang leader who ends up caring for a baby accidentally kidnapped during a car-jacking."

why i wanna see it. gavin hood, accepting the oscar for best foreign film 2006, goes,

"Viva l'Afrique. Viva. I've got ten seconds. Ten seconds I just want to thank my fellow nominees who I've become deep friends with. We may have foreign language films, but our stories are the same as your stories. They're about the human [pounds his fist to his chest] heart and emotion."


that girl in pink said...

city of god is one of my favourite movies. ni remember totally being under its spell for a few days after i saw it. the DVD i saw also had a documentary about the slum and that was even more disturbing.

saw scarface pretty recently and its a beautifully made film, but it didn't quite kick me in the gut the way city of god did. it doesn't have any of the rawness or truthfulness of COG.