Pacific Rim – Guillermo del Toro (2013)

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http://blogs.orlandoweekly.com/index.php/2013/07/bro-pacific-rim-is-like/

Bro, the world is about to end. It’s been 15 years since these crazy fucken monsters — they call em the kaiju, whatever that means — began appearing from some kind of intergalactic hole in the ground at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, taking out whole cities like San Fran and Malaysia just cuz. There used to be months between their visits to ruin all, but now they’re coming even few days and speeding up. Bro, listen. Time isn’t on our side, but we got these giant goddamn robots, and they are.

Dude, I know what you’re thinking, that robots are no match for giant monsters with shark grills that spit acid. But it’s not the robots, it’s the dudes (and chicks) inside the robots, all right?  They’ve got some personal shit to overcome before they can do that mind meld thing and throw down with those badass robot weapons, but so do the rest of us. And they have to, because, yo, just like that ridic wall they want to build around Mexico that dad’s all for, this anti-kaiju wall shit ain’t gonna work. It’ll probably come at the last second, because that’s always how this shit works, but they’ll save the day. Bro, I know they will.

Yo, it’s kinda funny. Watching those things fight is kind of like the sock-em-rock-em robot thing dad used to have the basement that he wouldn’t let us touch because it was worth too much on eBay, except one of the robots is a monster. Or those weird ass cartoons all those AV club dorks used to watch while not hanging out with any girls, ever. All that crazy Japanese stuff that you had to read to watch. Who the hell wants to read a movie anyway? But this shit is real. If one of those things like killed mom or you, Bro, you know I’d be in one of those robots, wrecking those bastards like Hulkamania for real.

And when it was all over, and the movie came out, and they cast that guy from the badass biker show to play me, all that death would be kind of worth it, you know? Because Bro, it comes down to this: if you can’t turn the brain meat off and sit back and enjoy Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi and Idris Elba beating the crap out of some monsters then, dude, you’re the monster.

Sin Nombre – Carey Fukunaga (2009)

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http://www2.orlandoweekly.com/film/review.asp?rid=14321

Immigration dramas tend to be a crap shoot. Often they are too concerned with the social, political and economic injustices of the places in Central and South America that one needs to emigrate from at any cost. They are more about the whole than the part, neglecting deep characters for stereotypes and microcosms.

The problem is that these morality films are usually boring as hell. And that’s where Sin Nombre director Cary Fukunaga has a winner. He spends as little time dwelling on the whole as possible, instead opting for a classic road-trip story of the parts: the people who are emigrating and the gang members trying to kill one of them. It’s a leap of faith in character before culture that earned the Japanese-Swedish–American the dramatic directing award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Sin Nombre follows the fortunes of Casper (Edgar Flores), a Mexican gang member on the run from his own crew, and Sayra (Paulina Gaitan), a Honduran teen newly reunited with her father and uncle. The family is trying to cross the border illegally to get to relatives in New Jersey. While attempting to rob the train’s illegal riders, Lil Mago (Tenoch Huerta), the gang leader, tries to rape Sayra. Casper, boiling with murderous rage after Mago tried the same on his girlfriend, puts a stop to it … with his machete. Smiley (Kristian Ferrer), the gang’s newest (and youngest) initiate, begs to be given the chance to track down Casper and avenge Mago’s murder to prove he is worthy of the gang’s coveted tattoo.

Casper’s is a life of quiet desperation. Fed up with the lifestyle, he goes about gang business halfheartedly. His only refuge is the short moments he gets – at the expense of his duties – with a girlfriend that he keeps hidden from the gang. She believes his reluctance to tell his gangmates about her stems from embarrassment about their relationship, but he’s actually protecting her from a lifestyle that she is not suited to.

Sayra is only reluctantly trying to cross the border to be with her father’s new family, which she doesn’t feel a part of. He left when she was a child, but was recently deported and is trying to get back. She is as lonely a soul as Casper. Gaitan plays her with aplomb, perfectly capturing the wistful soul of a girl caught between two worlds, neither of them her own, neither of them worth the risk she’s taken to be there.

In a country that is steadily fed the idea that we need to build a fence to keep these people out of our country, we need this kind of film to keep a modicum of sanity alive in the conversation. After all, at some point in our lineage, almost all of us are immigrants.