Wednesday, April 05, 2006

In the City

Mere days ago I learned about the existence of City of Men, the TV series followup to the movie City of God, created by the same team, and just tonight I watched the first episode.

So far, so fantastic: in 45 minutes you get at least four simultaneous threads:
1) the fictionalized tale of two favela schoolkids,
2) an account of how the Portuguese came to Brazil,
3) an update on the (semi-fictionalized) gang wars chronicled in the movie, and
4) interviews with the actual child actors in the cast.

You also get animation, multiple narrators, snatches of baile funk, beautiful cinematography (incorporating both film and video), and ample amounts of the visual stylization of the original film. Both of the main actors appeared in the movie, but they're playing entirely new, different characters this time around, and the action is set in the present day (i.e., at least a decade or so after the end of the film). Needless to say, it's so dense that I think I'm gonna have to watch the episodes multiple times to catch what's going on.

Sundance is running the first four episodes (constituting the first season of the Brazilian-made series) this month, with promises of seasons two and three soon to follow. If you loved the movie as much as I did, you won't want to miss this. If you haven't seen City of God yet--and you're not put off by the prospect of a deeply disturbing, horrifically violent movie (in which much of the violence is enacted by very young children)--check it out as soon as possible; I can easily say it's one of the most exciting movies I've seen in the last 10 years or so. As a sidenote, it's not necessary to see the movie in order to understand or enjoy the series, but the TV show expands the film's already epic scope in exciting ways. I can't wait to see the rest!

PS. Yet another reason to learn Portuguese: the series' official site looks terrific and seems to be packed with goodies, but it's not available in English.

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