FAVELA CHIC: CITY OF MEN

(BY ALI NADERZAD) Life in Brazilian favelas has been a lot more popular subject on celluloid since the runaway success of 2002’s City of God. Recently Brazilian television created a series entitled City of Men which was produced by City of God director Fernando Meirelles. A namesake feature film was made and has been released in the States this week. Similar social problems are echoed throughout it and City of Men’s glistening imagery is just as evocative of Rio de Janeiro’s tortured beauty as City of God. There’s a a palpable anxiety among City of men’s characters—director Paulo Morelli underlines this well. Much of the insecurity and competition is owed to the fact that Rio’s slums are teeming with unemployed men of all ages: patriarchs, child-men, and conspiratorial don-dadas with enough swagger to freeze opponents to death. Territoriality and intrigue are the order of the day here. Wallace’s (Darlan Cunha) father is missing but noone wants to be involved in finding him. His friend Ace (Douglas Silva) himself has a son, and we worry that it might go missing as well since Ace hardly appears to relish his role. Is a teenager fit for fatherhood, really? As with 2002’s City of God, the excitement of favela life–the hum of banter punctuated by the occasional shot from an Uzi–also competes for our attention. Hostile environments often require you to form your own alliances, and together Wallace and Ace navigate the dangerous streets of their favela in search of a missing father, a job, or membership to the right gang. Bigger alliances and epic dramas taking place on the story’s outer confines will soon engulf everything and everyone. Big guns, trigger-happy gangsters and much braggadocio abound there. An epic battle rages between the men of Midnight’s gang (Jonathan Haagensen) and those of Fasto (Eduardo BR) which asphyxiates life in the neighborhood. Ace becomes embroiled in the conflict and attracts Fasto’s wrath, but not because of his own actions. In rough neighborhoods like those in City of Men the law of the streets is simple: don’t find yourself on the wrong side of the street. The men in these favelas abide by a code of honor and allegiance. But friendships fall apart quickly and tempers can lead to disasters. City of Men is a vivid, roller-coaster ride through the gritty streets of the favela, one which you should be sure not to miss!

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