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The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Sin Nombre

Let’s get this out of the way: I liked this movie. It’s very well-made. A solid script with beautiful cinematography. It’s better than Slumdog Millionaire.

The film was shot beautifully and captured the Mexican landscape in fantastical ways. It changed this socially complex travel tale into a fairy tale. In fact, that’s the dynamic that this follows. A young poor girl with a dead mom and deadbeat dad travels to a new world and finds a spiritual guardian who guides her along the way.

However, I can’t recommend this film for this reason: it’s just a conventional nothingness.

When Pan’s Labyrinth came out in 2006, I was completely blown away. Never had I seen a movie of that magical quality before. I’d seen some very good pictures before, but I had never seen Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece. Truly, this would be the most imaginative film of it’s time.

I suddenly had great hope for film. I thought that we’d see more stuff like that: films that scraped the edge of the bizarre and questioned the nature of reality itself. Films built more on feeling in its purist form rather than the distillation of some essence force fed through the convention straw.

Instead, the American Academy has really disappointed me. Slumdog Millionaire is nothing special. I said it a lot, and I’ll say it for a long time coming. If The Dark Knight wasn’t the best American picture this year, then it most certainly was Synecdoche, New York, a film that the mainstream didn’t even talk about.

Synecdoche, however, is a difficult movie to “feel.” And that’s the problem with the modern American movie audience – everyone is so afraid to truly look deep down inside themselves and dissect emotions. Slumdog is a heart grater: it beats you down with cliches and utterly synthetic emotions until it gets a reaction. It wears a lot of makeup, but there’s no soul underneath.

Watch Synecdoche. Truly watch it. You can feel Charlie Kaufman. You can truly feel the filmmaker. You can tell how personal it was for him. You can feel your own heart connecting with his. And looking at the movie, you can see a piece of yourself.

And that, to me is what a movie should be. It should not spark an emotion for the sake of the emotion itself, but the spark should be an absolute necessity of the filmmakers. Few films truly make this connection. Pan’s Labyrinth, E.T., Star Wars, Stardust Memories (or Manhattan or Shadows and Fog), Kill Bill, anything by Akira Kurosawa. Those are films where you can tell that the authors absolutely NEEDED to say what they were saying in the way they said it. Sure, most of those movies don’t have the sentimental and opportunistic social consciousness of Slumdog, but they certainly had more heart.