Monday, March 06, 2006

'Crash' landing at the Oscars

Few saw it coming. But what a "Crash" landing at the Oscars.

Paul Haggis' social commentary mosaic stole the thunder out from under "Brokeback Mountain" at the Academy Awards last night. OK, I didn't see it coming, either. (I actually voted for "Capote" in the Halls B&P Oscar contest.)

Here is my review of the film from the June 2, 2005 edition of the Powell Shopper-News:


Has the entire country become nothing more than overt and covert racists?

Does the anger that seems to lie below the surface of much of modern life manifest itself into ugly racial tension? Have we become so isolated from one another that we will occasionally crash into one another just to feel some kind of connection?

Writer/director Paul Haggis’ film "Crash" answers in the affirmative to all of these disturbing questions. Which is appropriate since "Crash" is a disturbing movie.

The film weaves a convoluted story around the chance encounters of a dozen or so citizens of Los Angeles during a 24-hour period. Two "we aren’t what we seem" black car thieves pass a well-dressed white couple on the street and decide to rob them. A racist white police officer pulls over a passing SUV and assaults a mixed-race couple. A locksmith works a job for an Iranian shopkeeper with life altering results.

And so it goes. The film’s multilayered storyline is ambitious, if a bit confusing. Haggis, who received an Academy Award nomination for his screenplay of Clint Eastwood’s "Million Dollar Baby," sets a fast pace with his rapid-fire direction. Do not be surprised if you get lost in the action.

The ensemble cast, for the most part, shines. Matt Dillon may have given the performance of his career as the bigoted but troubled LAPD officer. Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Esposito are standouts. TV actor Tony Danza’s cameo (right down to his "Who’s the boss?" line) is just bizarre.

One wants to like "Crash" because the film attempts to comment on the ugly consequences of bigotry and raise us above it. And yet the film goes to such lengths to prove its point that the viewer is left feeling manipulated, as if you are being told how to feel. When it starts snowing in L.A., you know something is up.

All of those chance encounters also makes one think Los Angeles must really not be all that different from Mayberry. Folks sure seem to run into one another quite a bit in such a big town.
Still, this film does have a heart and rises above the mindless comedies and numbing action flicks that have become a staple of modern cinema.

At least when you leave the theater after viewing "Crash," a part of it stays with you.


Blogger Brian Hornback said...

excellent, mabe

10:53 PM  

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