Cidade dos Homens (Ciudad de los Hombres) City of Men [NTSC/Region 1&4 dvd. Import - Latin America] (Subtitles: English, Spanish)
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If you have seen City of God and liked it then you will certainly like this. The beginning, while slow, is necessary to set the stage for the story, and the story is amazing. The story of City of God was epic, heart-breaking, and shocking, and is, in my opinion, one of the top five gang films ever made, and probably the most underrated gang film of all time. But it did have one flaw, City of God, at its core, was mostly a soulless film. It's purpose was mostly to showcase the goings on of gang life in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, and more specifically, how terribly bloody and horrifying they can be. This film, which was equally amazing albeit in a very different way, focused more on how the actions of the gangs can affect those who live within their territory. It showed how the bad choices of some, tear apart lives far from them and end hurting people in ways that they could not have foreseen. The film is also about forgiveness and the realization that, at a certain point, you have to be the one to end the chain of violence, even if you feel justified in your actions, or it will take everything you have left from you. Violence begets violence, and he who lives by the sword, will die by it, and that is definitely the message of this film. In a way, that was largely the lesson of the last film as well, but again, the last film told the story from the point of view of the gangsters, this one tells it from the point of view of the "moradores", the people who have to try to live their lives in peace while destruction rains down around them. There is plenty of action, but there is also plenty of heart.
The synopsis says: "Paulo Morelli's film is a pacy, bloody thriller that pays warm tribute to a diverse cross-section of American directors including Quentin Tarantino and Michael Bay." That is a very offensive statement. First of all, this movie pays no tribute to ANY american films and borrows absolutely nothing from any american film (I am american by the way). This movie follows in the same genre and style as its predecessor City of God, and in the same genre and style as Tropa de Elite. It merely drops the narrative style that both of those movies use, instead favoring a first person view through two characters perspectives. Michael Bay's filmmaking is based on the theory of filmmaking developed by Steven Spielberg. The base idea of that theory is that you boil down a story to being black and white, good guys vs bad guys, without any realism in it, then you put in as many flashy effects as possible, then you add an emotional storyline, one that has you cheering for the white knight, hoping he saves the day and gets the girl. This movie is NOTHING like that, this movie is gritty and complicated, and there is no clear bad guy. This story is very real and leaves in the necessary complexity that life adds to difficult situations. Furthermore, this movie managed to have incredible cinematography that in my opinion is BETTER than what Michael Bay could do without CGI despite being filmed on a budget that probably resembles what Michael Bay spends on food alone during the filming of a movie. That statement is also offensive because though Tarantino has made one or two amazing films, most of what he makes really fails to live up to the hype, and furthermore, Tarantino's style of filmmaking is to make a violent fairytale that has no connection to reality, and highlight the cartoony aspects of it. In essence, he tries to give every film he makes the "Sin City" effect, only to a lesser degree. Once again, this film does not play up anything, nor does it play anything down. It merely tells the story of people closely related to gangsters in the favela. Having lived in the favela and met people like everyone in this movie, I can say that this story is so realistic that there was really nothing in it that I found at all implausible. (some people might say that one scene where the boss orders a guy killed because he robbed in their territory is unrealistic, but they would be wrong. That is very realistic, if you rob in a gangs territory they will kill you, because they don't want the cops in their neighborhood. As long as only gangsters are dying, and no one is getting robbed, the cops usually let them sell all the drugs they want. But as soon as someone gets robbed, the cops start coming around.) In fact, it was so realistic that one scene where the cops come to the favela starts with little kids lighting firecrackers on a rooftop. In the favela, unless its after a soccer game, or its a holiday, the only reason that fireworks go off is to announce to all the gangsters that the cops have entered the hood, and gangs actually employ little kids to sit and watch for the cops with fireworks. Its so realistic in fact that I could easily see this story actually happening in the favela. This film and its predecessor City of God should go down as some of the best gang films of all time. Especially because, unlike most american made gang films, this film is realistic as hell. Of course, it helps that the favelas in Rio de Janeiro are so intensely violent that you really don't HAVE to make anything up to have a good story.
Don't buy this expecting a sequel to City of God because they are not in the same league as far as production value and entertainment are concerned. The pacing is much slower and there is certainly less action, but this movie assumes that you already know what happened in the sereies. There are a healthy dose of flashbacks that take place throughout, but these are more to remind the viewer of moments that took place throughout the show than they are to catch new viewers up to speed. In closing, I highly recommend City of Men the movie, but only after you have seen the TV show, otherwise it will still be an entertaining film, but it was made to be coupled with the series.
I received the movie on DVD on July 1. I really liked the movie because it stayed true to the TV show ( mostly ) and also because it finally touched on a subject that many whom are familiar with the TV series had been wondering about: the estranged fathers of the boys.
There's not much I can say here without spoiling it. But rest assured that this movie ( preceded by watching the TV series ) is something that you will want to see.