Sunday, March 09, 2003

City of God (IMDB) (Netflix)
A nearly apocalyptic blend of Mean Streets and Lord of the Flies that takes place in Rio de Janeiro slum named—with bitter irony—"The City of God." The lack of jobs and ensuing poverty creates a favela that is dominated by an evermore-powerful hoodlum subculture, and whose rise is narrated by "Rocket," one of its few seemingly redeemable denizens.

If you had trouble with the violence of Gangs of New York, this could push you over the edge. It's shot in a quasi-documentary style that strips away any veneer that could have distanced viewers from this societal trainwreck, and laid out in such a forceful way that, for those of who aren't repulsed, it becomes a searing-but-fascinating experience. Critics are stumped as to why this wasn't nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, and you too will be mystified.