City of God

City of God ★★★½

It was like a message from God: "Honesty doesn't pay, sucker."

My big moviegoer goal of next year: Watch everything on the Letterboxd Top 250, and IMDb's equivalent as well. I desire to be truly "learned," feel like I can own that badge of being a true appreciator of the art form, stuff like that. I can start a little bit early, at least pick at it before I dedicate myself to it more directly come January. So, here's a really big one. I'm sure Roger Ebert categorized this as one of his "films are empathy machines" experiences, where you're seeing an experience that you really wouldn't get to see otherwise outside of film as an American. Watch a movie like this, and suddenly all of your little personal problems are going to feel a lot smaller. At least you're not a child getting shot in the foot by another child. That said, to try to go beyond it just being a movie that exists for a means of perspective, City of God I think also does a good job of thinking about movies as a means to then reflect back on society, beyond the world of the film itself. You don't just walk out of it thinking "Oh, that was sad." or "Oh, that was a fun ride." Instead, you might be directly engaged to think something like "This movie really has something to say and show about the woes of the world, what could we do in order to change it, and what even are our true core issues?" Police and other forms of authority rarely show up in this film, and when they eventually do, they come off as more of a nuisance to the conflicts of the film instead of something to help solve said conflicts. it insinuates that this is a structural dilemma, a way in which the systems of the world are fundamentally flawed to the point of not being able to solve these wider problems by working with what we have. Change is required. Something new to take the place of what's existing now. So, in other words, even if I feel like I'm being kept from four stars, this is a damn good movie, and I'm glad I gave it a watch. Some real neat cinematography and editing, plus the most energetic chicken ever.


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