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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Crash



What's interesting about the audience reaction to this Paul Haggis movie is that it creates such a strong reaction. People either love it..... or hate it. Even amongst critics I've read a lot of top ten lists that have this movie amongst the best. Roger Ebert picked it as the best movie of the year.

The film is nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film of the year.

But I've also found the film to be on some worst film lists. L.A. weekly's Scott Foudas basically calls the movie irresponsible and insulting. He's not alone. Critics from the New York Times, Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times have had negative reviews of the film.

I think that the reasons why the reactions are so strong for the film is because the movie has noble intentions. I think that it tries to illustrate that ALL people are racist in some way, but they are also redeemable, and ultimately can have good intentions. It's easy to look socially conscious for liking the film. While detractors can come off as a Grinch for not liking the film or at worst even a racist.

RIDICULOUS.

My immediate reaction to the film after just watching it is indifference.

In all honesty, I'm having trouble figuring out what all the fuss is about. I estimate by next year the movie will be forgotten, and dismissed as a mediocre film at best. Certainly not worthy of the praise or disdain it seems to be generating.

At it's core the movie has a good heart, it's trying to encourage discussion about race relations. God knows there's nothing wrong with that. What's frustrating about the movie, however, is that it does such a sloppy job at it. There are huge holes of logic and believability. The scenario's in the movie are also juvenile and uninspired. It's obvious why some people are insulted by the film. The movie resorts to the most stereotypical, and simplistic interactions to tell it's story.

The movie's point is to simply provoke the viewer to condemn or praise the behavior of certain characters in the film, so that the viewer can feel superior or sympathetic towards them. Then in the third act, the film pulls the rug from under the viewer by showing them an opposite side of those same character's personality smashing their perceptions of the characters.

It's shamefully manipulative, and to the educated it's insulting.

In terms of originality the movie doesn't contribute anything potent or impressive, it's laughable as a morality tale.

But the sad thing is that there's probably lots of uneducated people out there that will find the film inspiring. It's hard to believe, but it's true, I can see why some viewers can see the film as important. At it's heart the movie is saying that people are complex and shouldn't be judged at first glance.

Not a bad message.

But to the educated, the film seems like it's preaching to the choir, and preaching in a condescending way.

I guess, If I were to defend the film I'd say that in some ways, it's a lot like a workplace training video. At first view, the stuff covered on the video seems like pretty standard, and logical stuff. It may seem insulting to watch. But ultimately, one day, there willl be a moment when one is working on the job, and they will painfully notice, to their own disbelief, that one of their fellow employees should've paid closer attention to the video. There are people out there that don't know how to act. They need to be told that stuff is wrong. What's simple for some to comprehend, is difficult to others. It's sad but true.

I just wish the film was good.

As I mentioned earlier the film has gaping holes of logic. For instance one crucial moment in the film a police officer sexually gropes a character. Everyone knows that no officer in their right mind would ever attempt anything like this. Especially in Los Angeles, with video cameras everywhere, even in the police cars. The last thing any L.A.P.D cop wants to do nowadays is create ANOTHER controversy. Especially involving an obviously upperclass citizen. Unless they want a huge lawsuit and infamy.

At another point in the film a character pulls a gun, and almost shoots someone. The problem is that the character who is almost shot knows exactly who this person is, and doesn't turn him over to the police. Apparently it's okay to let irresponsible gun wielding citizens to almost shoot loved ones, and then let them go for no reason.

At another point an officer inexplicably picks up a strange hitch-hiker than.....AFTER picking him up, and riding with him suddenly becomes suspicious and nervous.

The movie is filled with these types of moments of stupidity, it's horrible, immature, writing.

The fact that the film is set in Los Angeles is also unbelievable, not to mention insulting. From watching the film an outsider would think Los Angeles was a recreation of 1960's Alabama. It's simply not an accurate portrayal of life in Los Angeles. Not to say that there isn't racism in L.A. But the type of racisim shown in this movie is so juvenile and idiotic it resembles at times an out of control Saturday Night Live sketch, or a grade school theatre play written by the school nun. It's really a wasted opportunity, especially with the talent and budget the film has, to me it really doesn't ring true on any level.

But it's obviously striking a chord with people. I don't consider Roger Ebert an idiot, so the film is doing something right. It's not the worse film of the year, just very forgettable.

Like I said it has a good heart. It's pretty slick, and handsome looking. The acting is solid as well. It's not a complete waste of time. I'm sure it can work as harmless entertainment for some people. It's a nice conversation starter over lunch. It's safe and mainstream in a non-threatening way.

But it actually makes me sad, and depressed that some people might consider the film important or groundbreaking. It's a joke that the film is up for all these awards. It makes me think that a lot of people aren't socially educated enough to see how immature, mediocre, and obvious the film's handling of race relations is. Scary.

Not to mention that in terms of good storytelling, I'd say the movie is a complete failure.

If one is looking for an excellent film about race relations I recommend Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. Not only is it more interesting, it's more thought provoking, subtle, and sophisticated in it's approach.



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4 comments:

Lons said...

I saw many a terrible film in 2005, but nothing even approached the sheer offensive awfulness of "Crash." What a sickening display of directorial hubris.

Benson said...

i agree...i didnt think too much of this film...but its funny how people take sides over it. when i told my brother i didnt think it was that great his horrified reaction really caught me off guard. an ok flick, but def NOT a best picture nominee.

Myst3r1o said...

My GOD! Don't speak of such horror! My ears are bleeding! ARRG!

Crash is easily one of the best of 2005, and is one of the most touching films ever!

I just liked how there were different stories and how each one interconnected with the next in some way. Anyways, enough said... "Best Movie of 2005!" -End

Melody said...

I finally saw Crash this past Saturday night, I felt I needed to see it before the awards Sunday. Your review does a great job at articulating how this movie made me feel. I was border line offended by it and then to see it win best picture... It was very sad.