`City of God' casts harsh light on violent, poverty-stricken Rio


Film Column

January 31, 2003|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

The controversial City of God, director Fernando Meirelles' drama of teen-age gangs doing what they must to survive in the poorest sections of Rio de Janeiro, is this weekend's scheduled feature for Cinema Sundays at the Charles.

Critics who have seen the movie, which has yet to be scheduled for a Baltimore opening, have used such terms as "horrifying," "shocking" and "sobering" in describing its take on the violence seemingly endemic to the poorest sections of Brazil's coastal city, places where the rule of law is virtually non-existent and street gangs enforce their own brand of justice. Meirelles shot his film on those very streets, and many of their residents show up in the film.

The movie chronicles events in the life of a teen-age boy known as "Rocket," who grows up on those streets, learns to think on his feet and, using a stolen camera, begins documenting some of the lifestyle he's come to know. But then his pictures begin showing a side of Rio the authorities would just as soon ignore.

Gina Freeman Caruso, former curator of film for the Walters Art Museum, is host of the 10:30 a.m. screening Sunday. Tickets, including pre-film bagels and coffee, are $15, and may be purchased at the Charles.

Information: 410-727-FILM or www.cinemasundays.com.

Charles' revival

How Green Was My Valley, director John Ford's deeply felt tale of life in a turn-of-the-century Welsh mining town, will be the latest entry in the Charles Theatre's lovingly assembled Saturday revival series.

The 1941 film stars Donald Crisp as the patriarch of the Morgan clan. It is told through the eyes of his youngest child, 6-year-old Huw (Roddy MacDowall).

How Green Was My Valley was the only film by Ford to win the Academy Award for both best picture and best director, although he won three additional best director Oscars (for The Informer, The Grapes of Wrath and The Quiet Man).

Show time tomorrow is noon; admission is $5.

Parade on film

If you're on the fence about attending Baltimore's annual St. Patrick's Day parade, maybe this will persuade you: The producers of Ladder 49, starring Joaquin Phoenix and possibly John Travolta (his involvement has been reported in the trade papers, but not confirmed), will be filming this year's parade for inclusion in the movie.

Ladder 49 will star Phoenix as a fireman who, while trapped inside a burning building, reflects back on his life and career.

The parade is to begin at 2 p.m. March 16 at Mount Vernon Place. For information, visit www.irishparade.net.

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