Summer Movies: City of God (dir. Fernando Meirelles, 2002)


[Flixist community member Hanajun Chung discusses his favorite go-to Summer movie, and why he loves it so much. You can get a community blog front-paged too! More info on that here.  – Liiiiiiizzzzzzzzzzzz]

Most students cannot wait for summer to arrive. After a year’s worth of schooling and responsibilities, it’s nice to have a couple months to rest, relax, and have fun without worry. I also think seasons helps greatly. The welcoming warmth of summer, in my opinion, has greater effect if you’ve just been living the cold from winter and spring. But what if you lived in a place of perpetual summer? Hawaii? Rio de Janeiro? Or Guam?

As someone who grew up on a tropical island through high school (it’s Guam), the summer season almost never ends. There are pros and cons, but in terms of schooling, it’s still just as satisfying. Summer can also get boring quick, but that depends on how one decides to spend their free time. Even though beach trips or BBQ fiestas is Guam culture, kids will look for elsewhere for kicks. For the youth in City of God, some will probably wish they spend their time doing something as silly as starting a reggae jam band (my summer of ’03).


City of God - Official Trailer

When I first saw the English trailer for Fernando Meirelles’s film, I was blown away by the beautiful images of Rio combined with alluring clips of the youth behaving violently to each other and adults. But what struck me the most about the trailer was the deep, trailer-voice introduction: “Rio de Janeiro. The beach. The nightlife. The romance. But 15 miles from paradise, is the City of God.” For tourists, “the beach,” “the nightlife,” “the romance” all sound like ideal for vacation. Guam’s main income is tourism, so the citizens know how important it is to “sell” that image. The “15 miles” partition hits close to home. Meirelles not only succeeds at doing that for Rio de Janeiro, but manages to keep you interested in the life outside that image, keeping that same energy from the trailer to sell the setting and tell the story.

This is one my summer films, I have seen almost every year since its release. I wish I could choose something more celebratory such as Wet Hot American Summer or Dazed and Confused, but I connect more with Meirelles’s film. I never went to summer camp, and I feel like these characters didn’t either. In fact, the notion of summer is only mentioned for about a second in the film, barely an afterthought. School is a joke to these kids, with drugs, money, and power being pursued differently by characters for conflicting motives. There are many moments in which you wish these kids would’ve have done something positive or productive with their time, because tragedy becomes life in Karmic levels. It’s sad, gritty, and hard to look away.

If you haven’t seen City of God and you follow this site, track it down and watch. The film, if it were to be labeled a genre, would probably follow urban-crime films, such as Menace to Society and Boyz in the Hood. But I feel this film is deeper than the previously mentioned, a depth reminiscent of HBO’s The Wire. It also helps that Meirelles directed the hell out of that movie, not only with great performances, but presenting some breathtaking sequences that are both beautiful and memorable. Just seeing the characters glisten with sweat, day and night, takes me back to my youth living in perpetual heat, immersing me deeper into the film. I could go on and on about the film, but it’s better to simply experience the City of God.

What are your summer movies? Post them on the Community Blogs while it’s still Summer!