City of God
Posted by Michael Flores | Movies, What's Free Wednesday

Lots of Fetchland readers already subscribe to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, or even Marvel Unlimited.

… Which begs the question: When you have access to an almost limitless plethora of entertainment options, which ones should you pick?

“What’s Free Wednesday” is a weekly Fetchland feature spotlighting something great to read or watch available on one or more entertainment services. “Free” once you’ve paid for it, if you grok 🙂

City of God

Free on:

  • Amazon Prime
  • Netflix

If you mention the movie City of God to someone who’s seen it they’ll likely grab your arm.

“Oh my God!” they’ll say and then clutch their heart, “Such a good movie!”

No matter when they saw it they remember how it struck them in the chest and left them breathless. It’s a small movie but so gripping, overwhelming, and real that it feels big budget. Set in the heart of a Rio you’ve never seen before, it’s got the familiar music and the bright colors but it’s also filled with dirt and gangs of young kids wielding guns.

Without being a horror movie, this movie still terrifies. It terrifies in a heartbreaking adrenaline rush portraying real-life events in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. It horrifies. It feels apocalyptic. The end is near due to all encompassing danger… Only the killer zombies in City of God are children. A

    Lord of the Flies

feeling resonates throughout the movie as well because these ignored, neglected kids are running the slums.

City of God doesn’t just get its overwhelming feeling from the wild ride of kids waving guns around whimsically. It’s shot in a kaleidoscope of bright, thoughtful handheld camera work, up close and personal with all the color, passion, and grit of this particular part of Rio right in your face. The movie starts with a chicken chase through the narrow pathways, up and down stairs before landing on the narrator: Rocket. The movie is a thrilling race from there forward. The stories take us back and forth between time periods so that we see a “Tender Trio” of friends evolve from small fry soccer buddies into a triangle of opposite adults.

Each of them arises as naturally as leaves on a branch from their horrific home. First is Rocket: the shy, watchful innocent who always hides behind a camera. Then there’s beloved Benny, a party boy with an amazing girlfriend who plays best friend to virtually everybody in Rio. And lastly, there’s the terrifying Li’l Zé, who picked up a gun at age six and never stopped shooting. The three started out as friends at a simpler time in the 1960s when the slums were more peaceful; but the poverty, drugs, and crime that followed in the next few decades drive them down different paths, though beloved Benny does play mediator.

Just as there are three main characters, City of God intertwines a trilogy of stories. Each story feels more brutal and heartbreaking than the last until at last you can breath with the redemptive and hopeful ending that seems impossible and yet also completely true and believable. In fact, the most unbelievable thing about City of God is the fact that it’s based on a novel by Paul Lins, who grew up in the City of God. This one will catch you in its grasp from the beginning, so bring your beverages and snacks beforehand. You’re not gonna want to get up from the couch. The movie gets its claws in you and before you know it you’re enmeshed in this world you could never have imagined before and then it will stay with you forever.

–Katherine Recap

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