I wouldn't know to complain if you told me we were having coffee in a part of town called "City of God," what with its vague St. Augustine allusions and all. But after watching the Brazilian film of the same name, I think I'm supposed to add it to the list of neighborhoods that represent the combined failures of local government, law & order, and perhaps the human race: South Boston, Trenchtown in the Jamaican capitol of Kingston, East St. Louis, and South Central Los Angeles. We group them on an imagined Most Wanted list of places we'd never go, streets and sidewalks where we think getting killed might be as likely as tripping over the curb.

Rocket, City of God's young protagonist agrees, even though he grew up there. His story spans two decades (as far as I can tell, from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s) in this arid housing project 15 miles outside of Rio De Janeiro, beginning with him as a child looking up to the local hoods as they rob delivery trucks, and ending with him photographing them for the local newspaper as they kill each other. And while there were good times, Rocket's narration indicates that he doesn't miss them much. "This is where the politicians dump their garbage", he says. "Criminals? Homeless families? Pack 'em up and send them to City of God!"

Continue reading: City Of God Review