Full Disclosure: I’m not a movie guy.

The last film I saw in a physical movie theater was 50 Shades of Grey.

Under protest! Do what I gotta do, I guess.

Truth be told, I prefer visual narrative entertainment in one-hour chunks, like they do on the HBO. However, I keep a mental list of a handful of films that, if they appear on cable, it’s mandatory to begin watching no matter where the narrative is. Case(s) in point: Purple Rain, Top Gun*, Heat (the one with Pacino and DeNiro, natch), and, yes—City of God.

I first saw City of God in Ohio in 2003 or so. It was sick, and, more importantly, it marked a paradigm shift in my whole perception of Brazil. Up to that point, the main influence on it was a VHS copy of Wild Orchid that one of my dad’s coworkers taped off of Cinemax (I assume) and lent to him. Even though I was too young to process what the hell was going on in the Mickey Rourke “classic,” I was able to conclude that there was some “crazy” shit happening.

Hey—we took what we could get in the pre-Internet era.

A few years earlier, my dad used to run that song “The Girl From Ipanema” non-stop on one of the first CDs ever, like in 1985 or ’86. I don’t know if you remember, but physical compact discs were like $25 then. RIP “the music industry.”

ANYWAY, City of God made an impression both for its visceral storytelling and depiction of Brazil as a land that sustains itself on a potent admixture of violence, mysticism, and partying. Since then, my perception of Brazil has been further shaped by that one Patrice O’Neal (RIP) bit and Brazilian skateboarders, who, qualitatively, may be better per capita than any country in recorded civilization.

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