Cidade de Deus...
I recently watched two interesting films (surprise!). The first was called Cidade de Deus (City of God), a Brazilian film based on a real story from the City of God favela near Rio. A favela is the Portuguese word for a slum, and about 20% of Rio de Janeiro lives in favelas, separated from the rest of the city. The film was incredibly moving. It gives you a new perspective.
The favelas are where a lot of the hard-core drug dealers come from. Because the people are so poor, a lot of them don't have much of a choice. They can work legally for almost nothing, or can make a lot more money, and gain prestige and guns, by working as or for a dealer. There was a documentary after the movie, that talked about the drug-dealing and poverty problems. They interviewed drug dealers, people living in and near the favelas, police officers, and the police chief of Rio. What I found the most shocking was the frankness with which the police chief said that if the police weren't corrupt, then there would be havoc on the streets. The Rio police force is the best trained, and most highly armed police force in the world. They're probably better at close range fighting than the Americans (even after they invaded Iraq).
The police chief pointed out that if the police were to go and raid the middle and upper class that use drugs, then they would lose support from the tax paying population, and the whole system would collapse. So, they target the poor instead. But in doing so the poor attempt to fight against the police. He argued that it's necessary to keep the poor suppressed. I can't remember all of his reasons, but he did bring up some interesting points.
The second movie, which I watched in French film class on Friday morning, was called Indochine (Indochina), with Catherine Deneuve. It was set during the French occupation of Vietnam. Deneuve plays a wealthy French rubber plantation owner, who had never been to France. I won't give too much away, but needless to say it involves the communist uprising, and the two sides of the French perspective to their role as a colonial power.