Wednesday, March 08, 2006


First of all: excellent participation on the last two entries, everybody (and the liveblogging post before that as well). I should do a list every day! (But I won't. Maybe.) I love to see people engaged and commenting at the ol' blogstead. And please, neither topic is closed; keep adding your two cents on the top ten directors or the top ten films.

But now, of course, having built up interest in the blog, I'll be taking a break. Perfect timing! I'll be out of town from Thursday through Monday. This might not be the last post until then, but consider this an early "Gone Fishin'" notice, just in case.

So I watched the DVD of Crash last night. I hadn't intended to, but a buddy called up and had it rented, so I went over and three of us checked it out. And I'll tell you what: it's no Best Picture.

Most of the criticisms I've read of the film turned out to be accurate. It's filled with cheap irony and ridiculous coincidences (to the point where you think there must be only 12 people living in L.A.) and obviously telegraphed "shocks;" the characters are almost uniformly stupid people who do and say stupid things (either due to, yes, sheer stupidity, or intentional baiting), both for shock value and to broadcast the message: WE'RE ALL RACIST!!! Oh, really, is that the point of this movie? I didn't get that. Even an ounce of subtlety might have helped make this film less ludicrous, but subtle never enters the picture.

Speaking of ludicrous: rapper-turned-actor Ludacris is one of the things I did enjoy about the film. He's surprisingly good. In fact, all the actors are good, some very good; the problem is with the material, not them. There are some effective moments peppered throughout: Michael Pena's story to his daughter hiding under the bed was very sweet and funny ("Yeah right, you're a fairy"), and come on, who didn't love seeing Terrence Howard kick the crap out of Ludacris? (And take his gun: "Now it's my gun!") And Tony Danza: BEST CAMEO EVER.

But those moments are outweighed ten times by the eye-rolling, ridiculous, groan-inducing, impossible-to-swallow scenes: Don Cheadle's mother instantly blaming him for his brother's death. William Fichtner's "fucking black people" speech to Cheadle. Howard's complete, batshit insane freakout for the cops. Ryan Phillippe and Larenz Tate's matching St. Christopher statues. Ludacris apparently having no problem liberating a van full of slaves from his evil fence, who had planned on selling them. Thandie Newton's... actually, almost every single thing Thandie Newton's character does or says. By the time we got to Sandra Bullock hugging her maid and weeping, "You're the best friend I've got," I was laughing hysterically. "What, are we in Driving Miss Daisy all of a sudden?" I asked. "'Hoke, you're my best friend!'" And then I got the rest of the room laughing when Matt Dillon's father last is shown, trying again to take a pee: "Awwww... poor racist cop's dad!"

The movie is so self-consciously declaring itself to be The Definitive Film Statement On Racism. And I could not take it seriously. Some damn fine acting wasted in a mostly piss-poor script.

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