Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ciudade de Deus

Wow, this was a good film (or DVD actually)! I had kind of heard about it when it came out, and then a little after, but never got around to watching it until this Sunday. It brought to mind right away “Goodfellas”, because of the obvious similarities with criminality and gang or mob mentality. As well, there was narration throughout the film by the narrator/protagonist Buscape (Rocket), a decent kid just trying to make it out of the favela one day, in the same way that the main character in "Goodfellas" (or was it Casino?)narrated throughout the film. This sort of interactive narration by a main personality throughout a film also seems to be a characteristic found within much of French cinema, from the '50's all the way to today with "Amelie", so I'm sure that was also an influence upon this film. The cinematography, scenes, angles, settings, as well as the stop/go action, was really quite innovative and amazingingly presented. The film was set in the '60's in the beginning, but then moved into the '70's as the favela gang kids of the Ciudade de Deus (the "City of God", a Rio favela)in Rio de Janeiro moved into their teen-age years. I loved the nightclub scenes, where different groups of kids hung out together and danced in cliques called Soul (American music, James Brown and other soul artists), Salsa, and a clique called Groovy or the Groovies ( I think these were more rich kids and pop music), as well as some other cliques. I didn't know such a scene existed in Brazil in the '70's; I guess I just assumed that it was primarily samba and bossa nova (clueless American!). The movie just really demonstrated though the harsh and violent life of the favela, especially for the young people, and the very limited options that were available to them. The characters were essentially based upon real individuals, Lil' Ze, a mean, cruel fellow even as a little kid, Knockout Ned (or Mane Galinha), another fellow drawn into a life of violence really through no fault of his own, and of course Rocket (Buscape), a kid who has dreams of being a photographer, and eventually provides dramatic photos of favela violence to the Rio de Janeiro papers, by first starting out as a simple paperboy, and then landing himself into a job with the photography section of the paper (or, his photos get him the job opportunity, it might be better to say).

There was also a DVD extra documentary on favela life in Rio that was really quite an eye-opener for me. The documentary, which concentrated on gangs, police, favela dwellers, and a very pragmatic, real assessment of the favela youth and their options by a seemingly sympathetic police chief, really laid out what is going on even today in Brazil. Someone in the documentary made the comment that what was in fact really going on was class warfare; between those of the favela, who protect their own, and the middle and upper classes of Rio and presumably other cities, who employ law enforcement in order to contain the violence and the people of the favelas, to the favelas, and so as to maintain the status quo. That, was kind of an epiphany for me; it just rang so true in light of my studies of globalization and other issues. I had also just read an article in Discover magazine by William Gibson (author of “Neuromancer” - the first cyber-punk novel) in which Gibson said that a theme he was working on was how globalization is designed to eventually make all of us members of the Third World, with only an elite, super-rich class left running the show everywhere and anywhere (just as is the case in Brazil today).

I think that "Ciudade de Deus" may provide for us a vision of life in the future everywhere, if we allow unfettered free-market capitalism through globalization, to return us to a feudalism that many of us thought was done away with many centuries ago. People with no options, eventually will take the only options left open to them. Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI did not learn this lesson until it was much too late. If everyone is not safe and secure, then really no one is, not even a King and his wife, nor a wealthy industrialist and his wife in the nice suburbs of Rio; no matter how much money they have.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

This Queen Don't Run! (Or Does She?)

Queen Elizabeth II, a great American

Associated Press
Wed Jul 11, 5:15 PM ET

LONDON - Annie Leibovitz received an icy stare and a stern response when she asked Queen Elizabeth II to remove her crown for an official portrait.

Footage of the exchange is included in a British Broadcasting Corp. documentary that was filmed as Queen Elizabeth II prepared for her 80th birthday and during her recent visit to the United States.

Snippets of "A Year With the Queen," which captures the working life of the royal family, were released Wednesday.

Queen Elizabeth II is shown walking into a room in Buckingham Palace — which is cluttered with camera equipment — wearing her crown and her Order of the Garter robes.

Leibovitz tells her: "I think it will look better without the crown because the Garter robe is so ..."

Before she can finish saying "extraordinary," the queen gives her an icy stare and replies: "Less dressy. What do you think this is?" and points to what she is wearing.

Cameras follow the queen as she storms off, an official lifting the large train of her blue velvet cape off the floor, as she tells her lady-in-waiting: "I'm not changing anything. I've had enough dressing like this, thank you very much."

Then, the Queen came back into the room, crown in hand; jowls a-trembling, and red as a beet. "I oughta just take this crown and put it in your @#4%!&*!....

Next thing the royal staff knew, the Queen was all over Annie Leibovitz, who was like, 'o mygod, somebody please help me! She's killin' me! Then, the Queen climbed up to the top rope, whirling both arms like some crazy saw, and then came crashing down with a forearm smash to Leibovitz' forehead, crushing the camera as well in the process. "Take a picture of that!" she was heard to say, as she fled the scene. She was last spotted scaling the perimeter wall of Buckingham Palace.

Leibovitz claimed from a London hospital that she may not work with the Queen on any more future shoots. Police are on the lookout for a white woman of circa 1955 appearance, possibly carrying a clutch purse.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Under The Bridge

from Wikipedia:

"Under the Bridge" is a song that was written and originally recorded by the rock group Red Hot Chili Peppers. More than two decades into the California band's career, it remains their most successful U.S. hit single, having reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1992.
"Under the Bridge" is an introspective reflection on vocalist Anthony Kiedis' drug addiction. The title comes from the lyric, "Under the bridge downtown / Is where I drew some blood," reportedly referring to an experience in which Kiedis used drugs under a bridge with a member of a Mexican gang, although Kiedis himself refuses to reveal the exact location. The song almost did not make the album, because the lyrics and nature of the song made Kiedis reluctant to show it to producer Rick Rubin and also to record it.

One of my favorite songs ever. Love the down and out realism of it.

Under The Bridge

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Sometimes I feel like I don't have a partner
sometimes I feel like my only friend
is the city I live in
the city of angels
lonely as I am, together we cry

I drive on her streets
'cause she's my companion
I walk through her hills
'cause she knows who I am
she sees my good deeds
and she kisses me windy
I never worry,
now that is a lie

I don't ever wanna feel, like I did that day
take me to the place I love, take me all the way
I don't ever wanna feel, like I did that day
take me to the place I love, take me all the way
yeah, yeah, yeah

It's hard to believe that
there's nobody out there
It's hard to believe
that I'm all alone
At least I have her love
the city she loves me
lonely as I am, together we cry

I don't ever wanna feel
like I did that day
take me to the place I love
take me all the way
I don't ever wanna feel
like I did that day
take me to the place I love
take me all the way

Under the bridge downtown
is where I drew some blood
under the bridge downtown
could not get enough
under the bridge downtown
forgot about my love
under the bridge downtown
I gave my life away