BP’s Top 100 Movie List Challenge #98: City of God, by Sarah Brinks
I’ve decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have tragically never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list has a good number of films I hadn’t seen before so it is a good source for my challenge. I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
City of God is one of those movies I have heard about for years and for no good reason I had never seen it. Now thanks to the 2017 Battleship Pretension Top 100 Movies Challenge I have finally seen it. City of God tells the story or rather stories of a group of young men growing up in a neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro where the homeless and poor are sent called the City of God. The film is set between the late sixties when the main characters are mostly young teens through the early eighties when they are young men. It is a powerful film that is often disturbing and upsetting but also at times funny and occasionally romantic.
The film is made up of a series of interconnected characters’ stories. Its untraditional structure is part of what makes the film so effective as well as some sophisticated camera work and production design. The film never shies away from making the City of God look like a hot, dirty, terrifying place to live. It is hard to watch little kids run around with guns and commit acts of extreme violence against each other. The crime rate is extremely high and life spans are short. It also shows how the acts of violence they commit against each other can come back to haunt them later.
Sometime I find it hard to judge performances in a foreign language but I have to say the performances in City of God are very strong, particularly that of Leandro Firmino as Little Ze. Little Ze/Little Dice will probably go down in my book as one of the best/worst movie villains ever. The narrator of the film is Rocket. Rocket is scared of the gangs and gets real employment to avoid them (he also can’t bring himself to rob anyone because all the people he meets are nice to him). His character isn’t as showy as Little Ze but it serves to hold the plot together and we begin and end the film with him.
I don’t think I’ll be in a hurry to see City of God again but I am glad I’ve finally seen it and I think it belongs on the BP top 100 movies list.
City of God Rating: Battleship