The Brazilian Sound:
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Brazilian Directors: Films In & Outside Brazil

Fernando Meirelles

The Constant Gardener (Widescreen Edition)

The Constant Gardener
 directed by Fernando Meirelles
(2005)


City of God

City Of God (DVD)
City Of God (VHS)
 directed by Fernando Meirelles
(2002)

City of God lights a fuse under its squalid Brazilian ghetto, and we're a captive audience to its violent explosion. The titular favela is home to a seething army of impoverished children who grow, over the film's ambitious 20-year timeframe, into cutthroat killers, drug lords, and feral survivors. In the vortex of this maelstrom is L'il Z (Leandro Firmino da Hora--like most of the cast, a nonprofessional actor), self-appointed king of the dealers, determined to eliminate all competition at the expense of his corrupted soul. With enough visual vitality and provocative substance to spark heated debate (and box-office gold) in Brazil, codirectors Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund tackle their subject head on, creating a portrait of youthful anarchy so appalling--and so authentically immediate--that City of God prompted reforms in socioeconomic policy. It's a bracing feat of stylistic audacity, borrowing from a dozen other films to form its own unique identity. You'll flinch, but you can't look away. --Jeff Shannon
 

City of Men

City of Men: TV Series (DVD)
 directed by Fernando Meirelles

Brazilian TV series City of Men is a dazzling, propulsive, and fiery exploration of life in a chaotic Rio de Janeiro slum, seen through the eyes of Acerola (Douglas Silva) and Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha). These two boys prove to be amazingly charming tour guides to a world by turns terrifying and exhilarating. Using the jam-packed storytelling that made the movie City of God such a revelation, the first episode alone is a marvel, merging the history of Napoleon with a cutting analysis of drug lords and class structure in the poverty-ridden neighborhood. The other three episodes of the first series carry on this riveting approach, mingling social observation with rich, compelling characters. From the second series on, the show becomes less overtly political and more about Acerola and Laranjinha's passage from youth to adulthood (embracing, with humor and pathos, the adolescent boys' obsession with sex)--though every episode has some sly or startling observation about race, wealth, and gender. Each series is filmed a year after the previous one, so the boys literally grow before our eyes. Add to this the dynamic musical score of Brazilian pop and samba, and you have essential viewing. World music has already found popularity in the U.S.; welcome to a masterpiece of world television. --Bret Fetzer

 

Brazilian Movie Index

Brazil DVD & Video Index (All Types) 

Criterion Collection Special Edition DVDs
(at Culture Planet)

 


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