Cidade dos Homens (City of Men) Reviews
While the cinematography is still nice, this movie is just no City of God. It's hard to get into because the first half hour or so is just so uninteresting. Even now I can't remember some of the characters names or how they related to each other. The ending is also way too ridiculous and almost like something out of a soap opera. Why the one friend would shoot his other friend or even think of doing so was just so unlikely and made the Ace character far less likable (and because of his neglect for his son and constant whining it already was difficult to like him).
Still, it's a decent watch for those who are huge fans of City of God. It's like revisiting the same place, only it's not as memorable as the first time. If you haven't seen City of God, go watch that first. If you have seen it and you want to see more, then this isn't so bad.
I thought it was good and even though it's not as intense or violent as City Of God, it still holds some pretty good moments and complete somehow the first film.
Running not but a little over 100 minutes, this film is a good deal shorter than "City of God", and I suppose that it's therefore not as overlong, but it is overdrawn enough to spend too much time with certain story layers and segments, to where the eventual shifts jar so greatly that the narrative ends up feeling pretty unnervingly disjointed. If the structural dragging does nothing else, it leads to limp spells in material which in turn lead to dry spells in thoughtful, perhaps even too thoughtful direction by Paulo Morelli, whose tension is adequate, but hardly compared to the intensity of Fernando Meirelles' direction, no matter how hard the filmmakers work to emulate elements of the predecessor. There are a few twists and turns to this sequel, but in so many ways, this film shamelessly succumbs to the formula of its predecessor, which was itself formulaic, thus, you end up with a follow-up to an almost innovative drama that is ironically hardly unique, being almost tired, particularly with its melodramatics. Although "City of God" was often too real to be all that comforting as a grimy drama, it was at least consistently genuine, and while this film is far from contrived, it does feel a little manufactured with its histrionics at times, as though it is ambitiously struggling to sustain a sense of conflict and weight, through all the limitations in dramatic meat. There is a fair bit to complain about, of course, but when you get down to it, the biggest shortcomings seem to be of a natural persuasion within more narratively tamed and less layered story concept, whose interpretation simply tries to juice things up. All of the dragging, histrionics and overall ambition ironically end up driving you to focus more on how there's only so much potential to this drama, which is promising, make no mistake, but just not as juicy as its predecessor, at least enough to handle the consequential shortcomings' blows and retain reward value. The final product ultimately succumbs to underwhelmingness, but it at least fights a good enough fight to border on overcoming the shortcomings, even going so far as to rest upon the shoulders of compelling style.
Allowed to play with his modernist flare a little bit more, without the accompaniment of Ed Cortês, Antonio Pinto turns in a score that is still unevenly used, yet subtly, but surely more unique than the score to "City of God", being rich with a fast-pace, when not tastefully tender Brazilian flare that colors up the film about as much as cinematography by Adriano Goldman which, while arguably too derivative of the visual style of "City of God", all but captivates with a ruggedly shady grit that fits this drama like a glove. Stylistically, the film excels, often as surely as it predecessor did, and sometimes more so, and such style does do a lot to keep the film engaging, partly through its flavoring up entertainment value with aesthetic value, and largely through its fitting the nitty and gritty, yet tasteful story. Thinner, more formulaic and more disjointed, this film's story is lacking compared to that of "City of God", even in concept, but there's also something more compelling about this more intimate crime thriller, whose retaining a degree of tension establishes a degree of potential that is ultimately done an injustice in too many places in overambitious storytelling. Even Elena Soarez's and Paulo Morelli's script tries too hard in too many places, but when it finds realization through structural and dramatic excess, it sees well-rounded characterization and a certain surprisingly tasteful thoughtfulness that is augmented by Morelli's direction, which, for all its being so overblown, yet still not as biting as the direction of the predecessor, bits when it most ought to. Mind you, that simply means that this film is adequate as a thriller which fails to consistently engross, but it's nonetheless a relative success as a pretty engaging, if often sloppy, and ultimately intimate, character-driven drama. If nothing else keeps the heart of this dramatic character thriller pumping, it is the acting, something that I admittedly find more impressive here, due to there being more material for the cast to bring to life with charisma and layers, with leads Douglas Silva and Darlan Cunha most standing out with their chemistry and individual nuances. These very young talents, at not even 20, drive the final product a respectable distance, and while the final product isn't quite pushed to a rewarding state that it couldn't achieve merely with strong performances, the acting, in addition to other elements which meet ambition with inspiration, engage plenty, just not as much as it could have.
In conclusion, the structure is draggy and disjointed, while a lack of the tension from the predecessor, plenty of conventions and a fair deal of melodramatics, all behind a story of only so much scope, secure the final product as underwhelming, but just barely, as sharp score work and visual style compliment the flare of a story that is truly done justice by the tasteful, if overambitious writing and direction, and solid performances - particularly those of Douglas Silva and Darlan Cunha - that secure Paulo Morelli's "City of Men" as, maybe not as rewarding, but as serviceably compelling as a continuation in a brutal portrayal of the dark side of Rio de Janeiro.
2.75/5 - Decent
Like Meirelles, Paulo Morelli leaves us with few solutions and only a glimpse of a difficult and uncertain future.