Thursday, January 26, 2006


Well, since it was free from the library, I watched Crash (which I claimed was something I didn't want to see).

Sometimes (to the amazement of one of my buddies) I'll watch a movie I know I'm going to probably hate. Which does not guarantee that I will. I've been pleasantly surprised a few times when something turns out to be something other than expected. Though I will concede those are few and far between. (I've seen basically every major movie released due to working in a movie theatre for over a decade, then taking every film class offered in college, and then working in a video store for a couple years, so I can tell with about 95% accuracy from watching the trailer if I'm gonna like something.)

I didn't hate it, but it was everything I expected and worse. I didn't expect it to be so contrived, for one. Contrived is fine, but you walk a thin line and your audience has to know that movie itself knows it's contrived (like, for instance, American Beauty).

The various takes on racism (and that's really all this movie tries to be about) want it both ways, meaning they want to make you like and dislike the racist (and everyone here is one to some degree) at the same time.

For instance, the black thug who comes out of a diner complaining that the waitress (also black) didn't wait on his buddy and him very well because they are black, spouts a few other stereotypical things, and then carjacks a car from a white couple. Thus he complains about stereotypes he has to live with and then fulfills them all.

For another instance, an Asian man is hit by the carjackers and nearly killed. When we catch up with him later in the hospital, we feel sympathetic for him, naturally. But we find out a few scenes later that he was in the midst of selling other Asian immigrants into slavery (or buying them) when he was struck by the carjackers.

I guess some folks would think that's clever, but it just struck me as flat-footed storytelling. Much like the after-school specials this movie's been compared to elsewhere (too lazy to link).

I wasted those two hours of my life on this movie, so it is my hope that you don't make the same mistake. 'cause I'm here to tell you: Yes, it doth suck.


Sleemoth said...

It doth NOT suck (imnsho).

An excellent take on the labyrinthic complexity of racism.

The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

Eudoxus and I only managed to watch the first ten minutes of it. We were in agony watching the preachy breastbeating of this one-gimmick movie. After the first revelation of ironic hypocrisy, you could see each surprise twist coming a mile away.

jult52 said...

I just watched half of "Crash" this weekend and I'm with Sharon.

So the corrosive feedback effect of crime and racism is a powerful topic. Agreed. But the screenplay is a disaster. I watched an hour of it and every scene contained some didactic speechifying driven into the audience's skull like a hammer hitting a nail, or a SUV driving into a body, or a 15-vehicle crash collision. What happened to subtlety? Or understatement? Or respect for your audience?

My personal theory is that the screenwriter (a young guy?) stumbled on the non-PC idea that racism both caused a predilection towards committing crimes and was partly the result of these crimes. And he was so startled by this idea that he didn't notice that this situation is an accepted fact by much of the population that lives outside of Hollywood. Given how revelatory this idea was, he felt he had to make the film state its thesis so obviously that all traditional restraint was thrown out the window. But that's a guess as to the screenplay writer's motivations.

I am still amazed that this movie garnered such critical praise. A piece of dreck no matter how provocative the theme.

Sleemoth said...

Six Oscar nominations!

What's in the water out there, Yahm?