28 February 2008

Favela Sounds, on Screen

Note: Read on for a contest to win the City of Men Soundtrack CD

I'm not a huge soundtrack fan. You might guess that from the space they don't occupy here at SoundRoots. Sure, I rave about the odd Bollywood soundtrack and about films specifically about the music, such as One Giant Leap or Genghis Blues.

But there are exceptions to every rule. And this rule is bent by the fantastic soundtrack to City of Men, which opens tomorrow.City of Men soundtrack cover

I haven't seen the film yet, but I can tell you a little based its pedigree. An earlier film begat the Brazilian TV series City of Men, which begat this new movie of that same name. All are about the lives of young men (sorry, women) growing up and trying to survive in Rio's infamous favelas. Poverty, drugs, and violence are the backdrop for their stories. The new movie is supposedly a bit less violent and more upbeat than its predecessor, I'm told.

And the soundtrack? Frankly, it rocks. It's only a little over 30 minutes long, but contains a great range of Brazilian sounds. A number of tracks are very short -- snippets less that two minutes long. The longer ones include the hard-hitting "Vietnam A Brasileira," the not-quite-tango string piece "O Pai E O Filho," and the somber closing duet "A Cidade Dos Homens (Corpo Fechado)," punctuated by cuica and electronic effects.

Antonio Pinto is an experienced composer who worked on the first film and the TV series, and of course in Brazilian music he's got a lot to work with. But don't take my word for it -- check out this energetic track. Then go see the movie. I know I will.

[mp3] Antonio Pinto: O Poligamo
from the City of Men Soundtrack

City of Men movie trailer

Oh, and that contest? Up for grabs is a CD of the soundtrack plus a City of Men poster signed by producer/director Fernando Meirelles. Just be the first person to email the correct answer to this question:

What was the name of the original 2002 film that began this story?

Update: We have a winner. Robert of Texas was the first to email the correct answer, which is, of course, City of God (Cidade de Deus - in Portuguese). Bonus points (but alas, no prize) to Ted in Chicago, who pointed out that two years earlier, the 15-minute film “Palace II” (“Golden Gate”) really began this story.
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