Sunday, August 22, 2010

Best of the Decade #19: City of God

Though the influence of filmmakers from Scorsese to Tarantino can be detected throughout, Fernando Meirelles' Cidade de Deus is a completely different beast. The brilliant editing and creative hand-held camera movement give the narrative a brisk pace and a unique energy. Based on the true story of youths growing up in an environment of crime and violence in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, the script succeeds in entertaining and horrifying its audience. One of the most disturbing of a number of unsettling scenes is the sight of young Li'l Dice, no more than twelve years old, laughing gleefully as he shoots innocent couples in a brothel. Indeed, aside from just being a dizzying crime saga, Cidade de Deus warns of the danger that a world of violence poses to impressionable children, a point most clearly made in the film's lingering final shot.

Caught between a violent street gang and an army of cops at the film's riveting opening, the camera whirls rapidly 360 degrees around our central character, quickly dissolving into an identical shot of his child self playing soccer.

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