Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I couldn't help but notice that the film "Crash" grabbed a number of Oscar nominations this morning. Saywah? The first half of the film was fantastic, the second half horribly pat. For those of you who haven't seen the film, here's a breif synopsis:

Jim and Peggy are married. They are white. A couple of minorities enter their life. Later, these minorities get involved in altercations with other people, some of them white, some of them not. In each instance, and in each conversation, race is brought to the forefront. Now, in the middle of the film, you have maybe 15 characters. Most of them are connected by some event that happened during the day. By the end of the film, the loose ends are neatly tied up, and everyone is connected to everyone else. The strange circumstances that intertwined the lives of 15 people would not have been plausible in a town of 10,000, let alone Los Angeles. Everybody learns a damn good lesson about other people, including us, the viewers. A movie about real life if real life were a TV show. James Frey couldn't have written a better film, but at least Frey would have included a suicide. Wait, was there a suicide in "Crash"? I don't even know.

In other words, boo. Boo to the nomination of "Crash". If they have to give it to one of the films nominated, give it to "Capote". Now there's a quality flick.

But "Crash"? Furreals?

Bah humbug.


Jimmy Saffron said...

The only award "Crash" should win this year is "Best film directed by Paul Haggis." That's it.

Ha! Get it? "Crash" is the only movie directed by Paul Haggis this year. No competition. Only way it can win.

Alright, that Hispanic Dad actor was okay. Maybe give him something.

Anonymous said...

The problem with your argument here, AM, is that you're reacting to this film as if it were meant to be viewed as reality. It's not. "Crash" is a modern day fable, played out by archetypal characters in extraordinary situations that just so happen to live in a very real city. The entire film is an obvious morality tale. Haggis is not trying for subtlety or realism, by leaving it behind he is instead able to focus on the lessons learned without being hindered by such nuisances as probability. He is constantly saying to us "this is a movie." He says it in the writing. The grandiose speeches are far from typical conversations amongst Angelenos. He shows it to us by reminding us of the camera, through lens flares and aerial shots. Now whether or not you like the movie as a fable is a completely different story but at least look at it for what it is, not what you think it should be.

Mathis said...

Weird. Saffron's comment shows up when you hit "Post a comment" but not on the main page.

Anonymous: I think you make a facile argument. "Oh, you don't like my movie - well that's because you didn't 'get it'." Basically, you're saying that a movie set in modern-day Los Angeles, which at its heart is about race-relations, is also a fable set in modern-day Los Angeles, about race-relations. It's not a fable anymore than any fictional movie is a fable. What it is is a film by a TV writer who can't shake the habit of explaining everything to an illiterate audience. Though I really liked Million Dollar Baby, I thought it suffered in the same way.

Haggis would score an "A" every time in a college intro class on How to Write a Movie, 101. That's not to say that a well-done film isn't a well-done film, but it's not one of the best films of the year. I could have gotten as much out of a couple episodes of Hill Street Blues.

Mathis said...

And I agree with Saffron that the Mexican dad was good. In fact, the whole cast was pretty good. But holy Jesus, that scene where the Mexican daughter gets faux-shot by the Persian guy? That's not even Hill Street Blues calibre. That's like CSI calibre. Maudlin, maudlin, maudlin.

Trevor Jackson said...

What do you have against slow-motion sequences where people are screaming silently, Mastodon? That's powerful stuff the director was playing with there. Very moving.

I rarely want to throw movies off the overpass in the hopes that just maybe the director is driving underneath so that he gets in an accident that prevents him from making any more movies but doesn't kill him because I'm not a monster, but just now it occurred to me that I wished I'd thought to do that after watching the gently falling snow settle over a ridiculously hack vision of people, race relations, and Los Angeles.

P.T. Anderson and Robert Altman and Lawrence Kasdan should sue Haggis for being an asshole.

Mathis said...

P.T. Anderson and Robert Altman and Lawrence Kasdan should sue Haggis for being an asshole.

Exactly. Crash is no Short Cuts.

Still, I think that Haggis can write moving scenes. I think that he has an eye and a ear for really great, really cinematic moments. However, he destroys the power of those pieces by forcing them to fit into such a ridiculous plot. I want to take the script for Crash, change the names of the characters, and rearrange all the pages.

Ian said...

I really liked the part where Holly Hunter and James Spader do it while watching car wreck videos.

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying that you don't like the movie because you don't get it. I'm not quite that snobbishly arrogant. I do believe it is far more of a fable than "any fictional movie." But my point is simply you can love it or hate it but I believe that it was a deliberate decision for it to be so overtly moralistic and somewhat trite in the tradition of fables.

P.S. Did you see Brokeback Mountain?

Mathis said...

Haven't seen the Bareback Mountin' yet - hiyo!

Still waiting for just the right cowboy to go see it with.

Trevor Jackson said...

Why would Haggis want to make a "trite" movie about a subject as gnarly and difficult as race relations? How does a trite take on racism open up the conversation about racism?

Look, the black woman who got felt up by the racist cop now has to let him save her! This fabulous situation will help me the next time I feel like looking askance at some black youths.

James Baldwin should have just made Sonny a superhero and heroin his kryptonite. That would have shed so much more light on the social problems "Sonny's Blues" addresses.

Jimmy Saffron said...

This just goes to show, you make even the slightest criticism of "Crash," some anonymous heckler from the Blame Racism First crowd will come out of the woodwork to shame you.

Alisa said...

Okay, Anonymous takes off her mask. I'm not some super leftist anti-racist anything. Just looking at the film a little differently. Someone I watched the film with compared it to a biblical tale and I started to think of it as a fable. Many movies play as a morality tale, this one just does it in such a straight forward and fairly cliched manner that I wanted to think about why someone would want to do this because I don't believe that so many great talents could want to come together over something as flawed as this movie. So the idea of the stereotyped characters (as familiar as the wicked witch, good cop, bad cop, blah blah blah) the near miraculous ending, and the apparent message seemed to fit into the mold of a fable. Under the laws of a fable, fantastic things can happen, such as 15 characters being interconnected in a city of millions. The more I spoke of it, the more I realized that my rationalization was just that. I was making up justifications for the flaws in the movie. So now I would like to publicly announce that I see that my argument was weak. I just needed to talk it out.

Mathis said...

Alisa, I think that what you did took real guts. Oprah Winfrey would be proud - damn proud.

Could it be that the forces of Truth, Justice, and The American Way are finally winning?

Let's hope so, people. Let's hope so.