Brazil’s City of God, about growing up in favelas (slums), is great. Any more realistic and it’d be a documentary. One DVD extra is a documentary about the current state of favelas. They interview not only the drug gangs but also the special police forces that go in the favelas and face the gangs. Both are filled with reality, humor, tragedy, hope, love, and death.
Seven Samurai is a classic on so many levels: samurais, great story, great characters, great acting, great music. It’s directed by Akira Kurosawa and stars Toshiro Mifune (the inspiration for John Belushi’s Samurai Deli character on SNL). It’s spawned many copycats, including The Magnificent Seven. It’s now part of the Criterion Collection and packed with extras, including audio commentary by Japanese film expert Michael Jeck; very interesting if you want to know how the film was made. Also a 1993 interview with Akira Kurosawa.
— Dino Spezzini, comedian/improviser/teacher, Finest City Improv, finestcityimprov.com