Friday, March 07, 2008
When Midnight (Jonathan Haagensen) wants to head to the beach on a hot day, it’s part parade and part military maneuver. Midnight is a crime lord in one of the many, many dirt-poor favelas (slums) of Rio. The gangs rule the favelas like gods, able to move and kill with impunity. The citizens watch them, admire them, talk about them—and keep their distance. The gangs war regularly, and none of their members walk the streets without at least one gun. The police only show up for bribes or in large tactical squads. Anyone who’s seen producer Fernando Meirelles’ City of God, to which City of Men (adapted from a mini-series) is a companion piece, will know the terrain. It’s a testament to both Meirelles and Men director Paulo Morelli that they can take such potentially grim material and inject it with a sense of vitality and frequent joy.