Like a companion piece to the brilliant “City of God,” the epic documentary “Bus 174” explores the tragic and gritty world of the hoards of homeless kids in Brazil, in the context of a now infamous 2000 Rio hostage situation. Most great documentaries take wonderfully complicated stories, and juxtapose them with a cinematic creativity and parallel narrative idea to create something new (“A Thin Blue Line,””Capturing The Friedman’s,” “Paradise Lost”). “Bus 174″ uses the many hours of actual footage of a 21 year-old glue sniffing mugger; during his 12 hour gun-wielding rant on a Rio bus that resulting in two deaths.
From a variety of perspectives, the surreal overhead opening shots of the densely ominous Rio slums to the harrowing footage of the overcrowded jails in Brazil, the incident on Bus 174 seems so tragically predictable. For a country and city as seemingly sophisticated as Brazil might appear to be, the reality of the pervasive violence and homelessness that runs rampant is mind-blowing. As for the actual saga that was “Bus 174” it is rare to see a story like this unfold so desperately and in real-time driving towards such an unpredictable conclusion. This film ranks up there among the best docs I have ever seen, as suspenseful and chilling any non-fiction is likely to be.