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City of God-Movie Review *** 03/16/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Action/Thriller, Autobiographical, Based on true story, British Independent Film Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Ciinema Brazil Grand Prize, Crime, Independent Spirit Awards, Toronto International Film Festival.
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City of God (Brazilian/Portuguese) 2002 ***
Cidade de Deus

Based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Paulo Lins
Directed by Fernando Meirelles
Starring Alexandre Rodrigues and Leandro Firmino da Hora

Among many other wins and nominations :
NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best Director (Meirelles); Best Film Editing; Best Adapted Screenplay, Academy Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Film, British Independent Film Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film-Brazil, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER and NOMINATED in many categories, Cinema Brazil Grand Prize
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film (Meirelles), Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Visions Award-Special Citation (Meirelles), Toronto International Film Festival

The story follows a few decades of boys growing up in the drug-infested world of one of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas (shanty towns). Most will eventually take their places as thieves and killers. L’il Dice (Firmino da Hora) gets a taste for killing early on. He earns the name L’il Z and becomes an undisputed drug lord given to unpredictable acts of violence. Rocket (Rodrigues) narrates the film. Watching the inaction and corruption of the police, he wants no part of the gang violence that surrounds him – he wants to become a photographer.

Watch the Special Features for a look at some footage that shows how true-to-life the film is. There is a followup DVD based on a television series called City of Men that I also recommend – more to follow in another post.

Highly recommended.

130 min. Rated R. Violence and drug use.


The Class-Movie Review 03/26/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Autobiographical, Based on true story, Drama, French language film, Movies.
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The Class (French) 2008
Entre les murs (Between the Walls)

Among other awards and nominations:
Winner, Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival
Winner, Best Foreign Film, Independent Spirit Awards
Nominated, Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards

Based on the best-selling autobiography by François Bégaudeau, who stars as middle-school French teacher Monsieur Marin. His students are a mix of cultural backgrounds from a tough neighborhood of Paris. A gritty look at day-to-day life in the classroom.

Among other things, the film shows that English teachers in America are not the only teachers who face an uphill battle trying to teach grammar and writing.

128 min. Rated PG-13.