Wonderworks Moving Pictures: Day 20
A great treat for the students today, as friend and former student Jake Hamilton stopped in to present City of God. Jake is the entertainment and movie reporter for Fox 26 here in Houston. He’s been reviewing movies professionally since he was fourteen and has had a TV gig since he was 18 or 19. He shared some stories about great interviews, terrible interviews and infamous interviews (looking at you Samuel L. Jackson).
I think what is extremely valuable about Jake’s career is that he managed to fly around the world reviewing films and still graduate from college. He tells a story of being on a press junket while studying for a final exam. Tom Cruise walked by and asked what was up with the books. Apparently Mr. Cruise was impressed with Jake’s interview skills and his dedication to career and school. So, when it came time for Cruise to promote Night and Day, he hand selected eight journalists to accompany Cruise and Diaz across Europe to reenact stunts from the film. Since Jake was cramming for a final one day, he got to jump across rooftops in Europe with Tom Cruise and ride with Cameron Diaz in a high-speed chase through the streets of Spain.
The moral of the story is STAY IN SCHOOL or something like that.
Now on to the film. City of God is a Brazilian film by director Fernando Meirelles and co-director Katia Lund. City of God is the name of the favela (slum) that is the backdrop of a sprawling story covering very little geography but decades of time. There are over 300 characters featured in the film. It is violent, profane and beautiful. It has an almost documentary feel to some of the scenes but is very visually stylized. I know those are contradictory statements, but it’s late and it’s the truth so deal with it. Most of the actors actually came from the slums of Rio. The events depicted are based on a true story or rather stories. It is an excellent film.
But, it begs the question, was it the best film that Fernando Meirelles will ever direct. When the movie came out in 2002 it seemed like Meirelles was an incredible talent and sure to be the next big thing on the international scene. That ain’t happened. So, why not? Was it the presence of co-director Lund? Was it working with a cast of unknowns? Why one good film and several not good films? I saw an interview where Meirelles noted that City of God was his project and the other films he’s done were brought to him. But, should it matter how the source material gets to a director? Shouldn’t a director be able to take any project short of Sharknado and put their own stamp on it and make it something great.
His next project is going to star Al Pacino as Aristotle Onassis and will be called Nemesis. So, we’ll see how that goes.