5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeking to survive in a brutal environment...
"City of God" ("Cidade de Deus") is the story of a boy, but also the story of a "favela" (Portuguese word with similar meaning to slum or shantytown) on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. That shantytown is called "Cidade de Deus". Throughout this extraordinary movie both the boy and the favela grow, albeit obviously in very different ways :)
The boy is Rocket...
Published on Jan. 10 2007 by M. B. Alcat
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars WARNING - Blu-ray wrong lenguages information on back cover
Hello, the blu-ray edition don't have SPANISH subtitles, like you can read at the back cover.
The video quality is regular, you can choose English or French subtitles but can't see the movie without subtitles.
The DTS-MA audio track ir very good.
This movie is excelent, but this blu-ray edition is not.
Published on March 10 2011 by Juan Mabromata
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5.0 out of 5 stars Startling & Stunning,
This review is from: City of God (Sous-titres français) [Import] (DVD)"City of God" is one of the best films I've ever seen. Nowadays a lot of films bluster about with kitchen-sink editing and visual effect techniques, a kind of visual swagger borne of music video, but this one really hit the marks with the script and acting and actually earns its style. Be warned--it's very casual in its brutality, is shocking even in this jaded age, and the movie does not pause to moralize on any of its characters. Both the good and the bad meet violent ends. But it also has ample moments of poignancy and heart as well. What's most intriguing is how we never really connect with any of the characters, except for the narrator Rocket who longs to use a camera instead of a gun. Rocket is experiencing as memories all the things we witness, and this is what gives it all a stylized and casual-seeming distance and swiftness. When I learned that actual street kids from the Rio slum acted the parts...Well, it's just unbelievable how good they are. This is perhaps the most perfectly edited film I've ever seen. It was like watching Scorsese's continually amazing "Goodfellas" for the first time all over again.
5.0 out of 5 stars "The third time, the exception becomes the rule",
This review is from: City of God (Sous-titres français) [Import] (DVD)I just watched this movie yesterday, and I can't get it out of my mind. From the opening scene, it grabs you and doesn't let go. It is a riveting portrayal of a brutal life in the slums as experienced by a young man struggling to escape it.
I just found out that these were not professional actors, and I can't believe it. Perhaps my impression is skewed a bit because I was reading the subtitles, but I didn't think there was a single bad (even mediocre) performance.
The style of this film is superb. Yes, there are definite parallels with Goodfellas, particularly in explaining (while not excusing) why these people choose a life of crime. The narrative style, however, reminded me more of Tarrantino, with the non-linear chronology, and even "chapter titles" (a la Reservoir Dogs).
One word of warning, if you are averse to violence, this may be one to avoid--it is quite graphic. Otherwise, this is an outstanding movie. Highly recommended!
4.0 out of 5 stars The mean streets of Rio,
This review is from: City of God (Sous-titres français) [Import] (DVD)It is a riveting film, captures the energy and vitality of Rio's mean streets, while offering some very compelling portraits of the young hoods that came to rule them in the 70's. I does seem to have borrowed from "Goodfellas" in its narrative approach, but there is a much more kinetic quality to this movie, reminiscent of Tarantino movies, which Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund no doubt drew from in piecing together this kaliedoscopic image of the infamous "City of God." I suppose this may be one reason this film found its mark with international audiences. But, as powerful as this movie is, you don't really don't get much beyond the images of a city riddled with corruption, and the generation of street kids that grew up in this violent atmosphere. Appropriately, the directors took the viewpoint of young Brazilian photographer who had grown up in this underworld and chose to record what he saw on film. The film also gains much from the candid performance of kids from the region, similar to Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay.
4.0 out of 5 stars Life is cheap,
This review is from: City of God (Sous-titres français) [Import] (DVD)The rise of the gangster has been done before, but add style and a real life base, and this is a riveting tale. That there exists such a place and such children bode ill for the rest of us.
5.0 out of 5 stars City of Tragedy,
By A Customer
This review is from: City of God (Sous-titres français) [Import] (DVD)This outstanding film shows the other side of Rio de Janeiro - not the peaceful picture-perfect heaven of the beaches but the death, poverty, and drugs that permeate Rio de Janeiro's slums. The directing style is dizzying and disorienting, quite reminiscent of Lars von Trier in his two masterpieces, 2000's Cannes Palme d'Or and Best Actress winner, Dancer in the Dark, and 1996's Cannes Grand Prix winner, Breaking the Waves. And like Lars von Trier's films, Kátia Lund and Fernando Meirelles were able to get exemplary performances from the actors and actresses in this film, particularly Leandro Firmino in his very disturbing portrayal of Li'l Ze. Although the film's characters speak in Portuguese, the plight of those who chose to immerse themselves in the dangerous world of drugs is not unlike those who choose the same path in other areas of the world including America. Highly recommended. 10/10. A.
5.0 out of 5 stars Mighty "City",
This review is from: City of God (Sous-titres français) [Import] (DVD)"City of God" is one of the most striking films in a long time, a magnificent, vibrant look at the slums and drug dens of Brazil, and the people who live there over the course of decades. While the camerawork can be kind of offputting, it's still an enthralling punch to the gut.
Cidade de Deus (City of God) is a 1960s Rio de Janeiro favela where the poor live so they won't dirty up the rest of the city. It's a rough place at best, and a horrible place at worst. And as children grow up, they're inexorably sucked into the cycle of drugs, theft, violence and starvation that is the lifeblood of the "City of God."
These are shown to us through three boys: Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues), Li'l Z (Leandro Firmino) and Bene (Phellipe Haagensen). Li'l Z and Bene take the path to being criminals. Rocket, the narrator, dreams of turning his artistic bent into a job as a photographer. But in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, it's hard enough to pursue your dreams -- and even harder to avoid the violence around you.
It's almost impossible to watch "City of God" without feeling vaguely dazed. It basically lets us into the lives of a group of people who are being rapidly drawn downward, in a world where everybody is a criminal -- including preteen children. Just looking at it isn't enough -- the director lets us see it through innocent eyes, making what happens all the more shocking.
Fernando Meirelles does an outstanding job with the direction. It's dark, it's fast, it's a quick left to the jaw. He doesn't milk this for cheap sympathy, or sugarcoat it to make it easier to watch -- the scene where a sobbing young boy is cold-bloodedly shot by one of his peers is more horrifying than any fright flick. The one area where "City of God" stumbles is the camerawork and editing. At times it's a bit too MTV, with the shakycam.
Despite the fact that virtually nobody in this movie is a pro actor, the acting is very, very good. Rocket is the only truly innocent person in the whole movie, and Alexandre Rodrigues does a wonderful job with the little guy who dares to dream of a better life. Leandro Firmino is equally good as the drug lord who blithely sells his dark soul.
The vision of Rio de Janeiro's poorest districts is not just sobering, but often shocking to the relatively well-off American viewers. Bloody, dark and compelling, "City of God" is a masterpiece.
5.0 out of 5 stars Visceral and Fabulous,
This review is from: City of God (Sous-titres français) [Import] (DVD)"City of God" is an adrenaline jolt of a film that for once manages to find a balance between stylistics and substance. The director, Fernando Meirelles, stuffs his movie to the brim with machine-gun editing, swirling cinematography and pounding music, but while this reliance on fancy tricks has ruined other films, Meirelles is so expert at blending them seamlessly into an engrossing story that the viewer quickly accepts them as inseparable from the world of the film. He delivers a deeply emotional and human story that obviously owes much to Scorsese and Tarantino---but his movie feels completely original, never like a rip off. And underneath all of the action and plotting, there is a compelling message about about the power of art (specifically the camera) and a suggestion that, just as the pen is mightier than the sword, the camera is mightier than the gun.
Can't recommend it enough.
4.0 out of 5 stars The "Brazilian Goodfellas",
This review is from: City of God (Sous-titres français) [Import] (DVD)When I saw this film in the theater I was seated in one of those smaller, 50-seat theaters, that make the viewing experience more intimate. There were about 20 other people in there with me and by the time the credits were rolling everyone exited in stunned silence. Either they were too tired from reading all the subtitles(this is a Brazilian film with English subtitles), or like me, shocked and a little giddy at having seen such a visceral film. The direction here is inspired, and it is the reason why this film shines brighter than most foreign films. For the unwary viewer I should warn you that there is a lot of violence in this film, most of it bloody gunfire. Also, the camera-work(a lot of it hand-held and jerky, lending a real-time perspective) may leave the viewer a little dizzy at times. One scene, in particular, happens during a shoot-out at a bank where the camera goes left then right at right angles quickly about five times, and I remember actually feeling a little disoriented. But this film has some intensity that I haven't seen in a film since the early days of films by Martin Scorsese. One positive aspect of this film is that the "Culture Shock" that is present in many foreign films is virtually absent here, perhaps and probably because of this director's American film influences such as Martin Scorsese's "Mean Streets" and certainly touches here and there(particularly in the editing department) of Mr. Scorsese's classic "Goodfellas." At best, this film is enthralling and technically appealing; at its worst, it is violently jarring and perhaps overly ambitious. In any case, it definitely worth seeing. Thank you.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Classic about Gangs in the Ghetto of Rio,
This review is from: City of God (Sous-titres français) [Import] (DVD)The City of God is the ghetto just out of sight of the fashionable tourist-attraction portions of Rio de Janeiro. The children who play on the streets there dream about bettering their lives, and the lives of their own families - much as Americans are nudged towards "The American Dream". But in the City of God the children have never had a hot shower, and their aspirations are only to join the gang most likely to come out on top of the gang wars that run end to end.
City of God is a powerful movie with incredibly vivid performances by a cast we are told are almost all non-professional actual residents of the real Cidade de Deus. The narrative is endlessly fascinating and many scenes interlock with scenes that occur in other places. As a viewer I had a repeated sense of deja vu (calculated by the brilliant director Fernando Meirelles), similar to the sensation I felt watching another brilliant film: Christopher Nolan's "Memento". Scenes are played out in their entirety with a particular character featured, then we will revisit the same narrative moment with the camera focused on an entirely different character, and we are allowed to see, if not into the minds of the characters, at least the circumstances that lead up to how they behave in a certain situation. As innovative as those technically brilliant shots were in "The Matrix" - you know the ones I mean, the ones where several characters, and often bullets and other quickly moving objects, were slowly rotated in the perspective of a camera that enjoys the privilege of computer-generated freeze-frame. The City of God does the equivalent of that mind-blowing technique, except it is done with the story. The payoff of this technique is that we become more emotionally invested in the characters - and where many mainstream viewers would NOT identify with a murdering drug-dealer, we are led gradually into that world. We meet "Li'l Dice" as a young man with a broad smile full of teeth and we could imagine him right down the street in our own neighborhood, hanging out on our street corner. As The City of God progresses we see how this pre-adolescent grows into the most feared man in the worst neighborhoods we could imagine.
The film is visually arresting, emotionally involving and psychologically stunning. Comparisons with Scorsese and Coppola are valid. This is a virtuoso effort.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Brutal Reality of the City of God,
This review is from: City of God (Sous-titres français) [Import] (DVD)"City of God" ("Cidade de Deus") is a great Brazilian film of the brutal realities of the area. This true story is desplicted wonderfully by the cast and crew. It earned several award wins and nominations, including four Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe nomination (Best Foreign Film). Director Fernando Meirelles leads the cast and crew to express the harsh realities of the City of God in the 1960's-1970's, ranging from gangs, daily residential life, corrupt police, and others. The brilliant plot not only educates audiences on what happened; it also never holds back on the level of violence. Therefore, the graphic scenes are necessary to offer a more realistic glimpse of living there. They explore the characters' life backgrounds wonderfully, allowing audiences a more inside look. Audiences must watch this film a few times to fully understand the deep range of details. The actors express everything beautifully, though most are amateurs. However, there are some gifted talents here. Their anger, sadness, and fear are performed to the fullest, giving audiences the added emotional value.
The physical backgrounds wonderfully blend with the brutal plot events, though most of it was filmed in the actual City of God. However, the camera work offes a deeper glimpse, offering the reality that can only be beaten by traveling there. The music and the sounds accent the events' brutality beautifully. Such efforts give added viewing pleasure.
"City of God" is a great film for those looking for something unique. This is sure to please audiences for a long time. Those interested in a deeper history should watch the interesting documentary shown in the special features. Such combination makes a great viewing experience.
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City of God (Sous-titres français) [Import] by Kátia Lund (DVD - 2004)
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