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Movie review: Crossing borders with ‘Sin Nombre’

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Reed Johnson reports from New York (click here for full report) on the upcoming movie ‘Sin Nombre’ (‘Nameless’), which opens in Los Angeles on March 20.

He interviews director Cary Joji Fukunaga, who found the gritty essence of the film -- a saga of a Honduran girl and a Mexican ex-gang banger trying to train-hop illegally into the United States -- by following the immigrants’ tracks.

‘Most aspiring auteurs probably would’ve drafted that story while safely ensconced in their Brooklyn brownstone or Santa Monica dingbat. But Fukunaga, a 31-year-old Oakland native who writes and directs movies as if he were practicing an extreme sport (he once dreamed of being a pro snowboarder), insisted on experiencing firsthand the hazards and terrors confronted by tens of thousands of economic refugees from south of the border every year. ‘So he set off for southern Mexico to ride the rails for several weeks, braving foul weather, marauding thugs and the constant danger of falling off and being swept under the trains’ limb-severing wheels. ‘It felt like being a hobo in the ‘30s,’ he says, hunching his slender, 6-foot-plus frame behind a metal desk in the NoHo offices of Focus Features.’

Fukunaga, writes Johnson, has crafted a significant new addition to the growing corpus of movies dealing with the Latin American immigrant experience, including Gregory Nava’s ‘El Norte’ (1983), Joshua Marston’s ‘Maria Full of Grace’ (2004) and Patricia Riggen’s 2008 film ‘La Misma Luna’ (‘Under the Same Moon’).

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-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City


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