City of God

This 2002 Brazilian feature, directed by Katia Lund and Fernando Meirelles, is well scripted, fast, exploitative, and cynical. Set in a ghetto on the outskirts of Rio, it follows a young gangster as he causes the deaths of friends and enemies alike to become the Scarface of his world. The violence is overwhelming, but the massacres are glamorized and the characters look like they're posing for tourism posters. With no precise reference to contemporary Brazil, the film invites us to contemplate—from a safe distance—the terrible life of the slums, where poor people apparently kill each other with natural grace and wit. In Portuguese with subtitles. R, 130 min.

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