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Movie Review: Sin Nombre

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Prinz Lee wrote this review 6 years and 3 months ago

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PL's Archive: Written March 20, 2009

I attended a screener for this film and found it to be very engaging, intense, appealing and so realistic. It’s dark traces of day to day life among those we only hear about and rarely get to see how the experiences flow was presented in by far one of the most creative ways ever in form of story-telling. New comer filmmaker C.J. Fukunaga presented a Q&A screening which was a “Memento” experience beginning with finished product and then to opening up the forum for inquiring minds pertaining to his start from research experiences as a whole (i.e. living the “it” factor, active / non-active technical advisors (who happened to be in the audience) and the literal timed zone(s) both artistic AND technical).

The presentation of “Sin Nombres” pushes untapped buttons of gang life as an M.S. 13 member, the struggles between living for the greater good while entrapped in a life of self vigilance all through the will and need to reach extreme levels in order to seek out a better kinds of living standards.

Character driven based on not appealing to the rule-of-thumb regarding a single protagonist, risking and openness to new-comers, talent-wise, and culturally diverse in the sense of the divide between Central American countries and the affect of passion of also having expressed the realities by the director himself saying it was written in English, translated into Spanish (with native & gang slang/jargon) and uniquely built by himself, a Japanese-American… if that’s not a picture perfect display of what political correctness stands for, I don’t know what does. And that’s what I found most interesting in a humorous way…

A pivotal character in the Mexico City gang thriller Sin Nombre has a face completely covered in tattoos: letters, symbols, menacing marks, He’s lke a real-life “Darth Maul”. And even though the movie itself pushes into the brutal territory of teenage violence and revenge spirals, there’s nothing in it more depressing than this face – never to be gainfully employed in public, never to be loved, only feared. (Thankfully, actor Tenoch Huerta isn’t committed to method research.) Writer / Director Cary Joji Fukunaga uses Mr. scary face as the catalyst for an unusually sprawling chase to the American border, impressive for a debut feature, I think. Suffice it to say that three characters come to dominate the narrative: Caspar (Edgar Flores), who hopes to escape a terrible trap: Smiley (Christian Ferrer), his pint-size former friend and armed pursuer; and the waiflike Sayra (Paulina Gaitan), whom Casper attracts as a ward after a truly heroic act of defense. Sin Nombre means “nameless,” but for all it’s conventions, the film is hardly generic; the rainy, purple-hued vistas, many of them shot from the roof-top of a northbound train, which outside of the character driven following, also delivers the nihilistic anxieties of what’s raw and real when experiencing such an unfortunate form of events.

If you’re the kind that doesn’t mind foreign flicks… this one’s in Spanish with English subtitles. However; personally felt the story was open enough to follow. Like Michael Webber (Explicit Ills), I personally plan on following C.J. Fukunaga’s career.

It’s an Indie flick so don’t go looking for it at your local commercial theater… this one’s playing at the art-houses and in NYC it’s over at the Sunshine, Land Mark theater or Lincoln Cinema Plaza… check listings for show times if interested.



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