8:00 PM, 15th May, 2004
After exposing Dublin's most nefarious drug lords and organised criminals in tell-all stories for Britain's Sunday Independent newspaper, Veronica Guerin was ruthlessly gunned down. The fairly young journalist, determined to finally make a big name for herself, very publicly stuck her nose, notepad and dictaphone where it wasn't wanted, against the advice of local law enforcement and arguably came off second best. It sounds like another contrived Hollywood plot, but did in fact happen in 1996.
Cate Blanchett captures the character of Guerin remarkably; her tenacity, her determination and her personal disregard for the consequences of her work. In my eye, this is her best performance to date. Veronica Guerin teams up a pair that are arguably Hollywoods greatest love/hate director, Joel Schumacher (Phone Booth, Lost Boys, Batman & Robin), and producer, Jerry Bruckheimer (Beverly Hills Cop, Armageddon, Kangaroo Jack and half the shows on TV today), to dramatise a true story (I know it sounds bad up to this point!) with remarkable success. Rather than just tell the story of a murdered journalist, they really capture the impact that journalist had on the society around her. Close to a quarter of the film captures the impact Guerin had after her death. Veronica Guerin is a rare, truly powerful film.
9:00 PM, 15th May, 2004
Growing up in one of the poorest slums of Rio De Janiero, the Cidade de Deus (the City of God), isn't easy. From the 1960s through to the 1980s we follow the intertwining lives of a gang that grew up on the streets of the City of God, particularly two good friends - one of whom (our narrator, Buscape "Rocket") grows up to be a photographer struggling to escape the slum, the other drives further into gang life determined to run the city. A story as old as the hills, but rarely are these stories told in such a brutal and heart-felt manner.
Although presented in a manner reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie movies, City of God exceeds its peers by actually feeling real where its peers seem more cartoonish (amazing, considering virtually no one in the cast had acted prior to this film or the short it expands upon). The shaky cameras often give a documentary feel to the movie, to the point that it's never hard to question children barely into a double digit age toting machine guns. At the time of writing, City of God is sitting at #57 on the IMDB top 250 movies of all time - not bad for a movie few have heard of, but it should be higher.