Friday, September 14, 2012

49/50x2: City of God

For those that know me at all, watching a film with subtitles is a bit out of my comfort zone. I am not that huge of fan of reading books, which is why I definitely enjoy watching a film over reading a book. I like to be entertained - but every so often I do take that step out of my comfort zone.

I shouldn't need to post this - reviews will have some spoilers.

A friend of mine has been telling me how good City of God is, so I tossed it on my list so that I would force myself to watch it. And, I waited until pretty much the very end to finally throw it.

And, I actually enjoyed it. In fact, the film itself was pretty amazing to watch. Of course, my only complaint is that I had to read what was going on. I feel if I could have just watched and not had to keep looking down to see what was being said I would have liked it even more. I thought afterwards that perhaps a dubbed version would have worked - except I cannot stand when words don't match with mouths, so I am not sure if this issue could have been fixed.

The film starts with a little party being thrown by one of the crime lords of the City of God (which is located in Brazil). One of the live chickens escapes, so everyone chases after it - and the group ends up face-to-face with the police, and in the middle is a teenager with camera.

The film then jumps back a handful of years to see how they got to this point. We learn that the kid with the camera is Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues), a boy that is more into school, hanging out with his friends and eventually photography than becoming a member of one of the local gangs - or as they call it hoodlums.

At the start of this mess, a trio of hoods named Shaggy (Jonathan Haagensen), Clipper (Jefechander Suplino) and Goose (Renato de Souza) like to stickup delivery men in their slums, and do other non-violent crimes. Goose also happens to be Rocket's brother.

One afternoon the trio lets a young kid named Li'l Ze' (Leandro Firmino) to join them on a robbery at a local Motel. Li'l Ze' wants to be a hoodlum really bad, but unlike the other trio he has a bit of a taste for blood.

As we begin to flash forward, Li'l Ze' and his friend Benny (Phellipe Haagensen) start to take over the City of God - eventually they both become power hungry and end up taking out all of the local drug dealers, except Carrot (Matheus Nachtergaele) who is friends with Benny.

Soon, though, even having Carrot out there becomes too much for Li'l Ze' and he wants to take him out as well. But, with Benny by his side talking sense into him he stays under control. Benny even convinces him to find a girl to take up some of his time.

At a local party, Li'l Ze' approaches a girl who has caught his eye - but she is apparently with Knockout Ned (Seu Jorge). Instead of just accepting this, Li'l Ze' takes it as a slap in the face and tries to embarrass Ned by stripping him of his clothes. While this is happening and the party begins to use a strobe light - a member of Carrot's gang tries to take out Li'l Ze', but accidentally kills Benny instead.

With Benny no longer by Li'l Ze's side - the war will officially begin. Li'l Ze' still feeling wronged by Ned and his girlfriend - knocks Ned out and rapes his girlfriend. Thinking later that he should have killed Ned, he goes back to his house and eventually kills Ned's brother and uncle.

Ned joins Carrot's gang and begins to sign up people for the inevitable war that would come between the two sides.

What does Rocket have to do with any of this? Well, he always seems to find himself in the middle of everything. He gets himself a job as a delivery boy at the local paper and befriends one of the guys in the lab and the photographer. Li'l Ze' even asks him to take photos of him and his gang - as he gets them developed a woman finds them and publishes them in the paper. Fearing for his life, he stays away from Li'l Ze' and the slums - not knowing that Li'l Ze' actually loves the photo.

Sneaking around the slums during the day to get photos for the paper, Rocket finds himself in the middle of Li'l Ze's game and the police. Which is where the film begins.

As I said, a great film even if I had to read what was going on. I can't really comment on the acting much because I don't know the language - but from what I could tell they all did very well. I really enjoyed the action and the relationships formed throughout the film. Even a big time crime lord has a soft spot for his best friend.


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