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Police and Thieves 

Wednesday, Dec 30 2009
Your self-improvement regime for the New Year likely pales next to Spiderman’s: The 28-year-old Rio kingpin, whose given name is Juarez Mendes da Silva, wants to quit the drug business and devote his life to the Lord. Pastor Dione “Jonny” dos Santos made that leap some years ago, and the evangelical minister stands ready (with Jesus’ help) to point the way. But as the days and reels unspool in the riveting documentary Dancing with the Devil, Spiderman’s words fail to translate into God-fearing action. Meanwhile, another potent force is moving through the favela: Inspector Leonard Torres, a brawny, fearless drug-squad star who, ominously, lacks a nickname. The great accomplishment of South Africa–born, Britain-based filmmaker Jon Blair is gaining the trust of these three tough hombres, penetrating their armor and emerging with a breathtakingly candid portrait of lives on the edge. Perhaps the Oscar, Emmy, and British Academy Award on his mantel carried more street cred in the favela than you might expect. His hard-hitting film lays the foundation for Yerba Buena for the Arts’ unrelated nonfiction film series, “A Bit of Brazilian Music,” starting Jan 14.
Jan. 1-7, 7 & 9 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 3, 2:30 & 4:04 p.m.; Jan. 8-14, 9:30 p.m., 2010

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Michael Fox


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