Friday, July 30, 2010

Day Twenty-Eight: Crash

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #218
Year: 2004
Director: Paul Haggis
Starring: Don Cheadle and Matt Dillon

We've reached the end of Travesty Week, and it's a good thing, because this vein bulging out of my forehead is starting to worry me. But seriously, today's movie is Crash. Like American Beauty, Crash inexplicably won a Best Picture Oscar. Actually, it's very easily explained: Hollywood kingmakers felt that racism needed to be addressed, Crash addressed it, and they decided to crown it as some kind of profound statement – and America bought it.

It's not that there shouldn't be movies about race relations. In fact, there definitely should. But this one isn't realistic, or even particularly well-made. Through a ridiculous and impossible series of random encounters, we're all supposed to realize that everybody's a little bit racist? Sure, that's the immediate effect, but if you actually think about Crash for two seconds, the only proper course of action is to roll your eyes. This movie is the worst thing that can happen for race relations, because it shows a glimmering veneer of inner city racism where no one gets murdered and where there is always a catharsis and a teary-eyed message. A bunch of movie stars tell us not to be racist anymore, and nobody gets hurt. That's nice, but it's not how race relations really are in this country.

That brings me to an even more key point. Do the Right Thing, the 1989 film by Spike Lee that showed a much more disturbing – and accurate – vision of race. SPOILER ALERT: That film culminates in a race riot sparked by a white cop murdering a black rap fan, and escalated by who we believe to be the film's protagonist. There is no catharsis, no resolution. We see a violent act committed for which there will be no trial. We see a pizza shop burned to the ground by angry African Americans. Then we see the next morning, where nothing has changed and the white boss has to give the black employee his money. The day begins pretty much the same as the previous day. That is how you depict race relations. Not with Don Cheadle saying mean things about Latinos.

The Good: A few of the performances are actually really good.

The Bad: The script could have been written by a high school kid.

The Skinny: This needs to be off the list, and Do the Right Thing very badly needs to be on it.


  1. Warning: Obsessive rant coming.

    I have to nail you for something, and alot of writers (particular pop culture writers) do it, so don't take offense. In just this blog alone, not to mention our own personal discussions, you have used a general phrase (or idea, rather) that kind of irks me, and I have to point it out.

    "Hollywood kingmakers...decided to crown it as some kind of profound statement – and America bought it." That bit at the end, about "America" doing something as a whole. Like I said, alot of people do this, but I have to rant about it. "America" and Americans NEVER do anything as a whole. In that particular line, you were trying to convey that alot of people liked the film. Lets ignore the implicit assertion that alot of people only liked it BECAUSE it won the Oscar. It grossed over $50 million, and I bet a huge majority of that was before the award show. Anyway, instead of saying "A lot of people liked it" or "It grossed 50 mil", you just said "America bought it." That isn't honest.

    I bet you my house that less than one in five Americans, nay, less than one in eight or even ten Americans, saw that movie. A bunch of film nerds "bought it" by placing it on the list, but don't say "America." The Academy is very well known for having a politically-correct, liberal view point and it rewards films that make your heart bleed. I sound like a Middle America "good ole boy", I know, but it is completely true. You shouldn't indict the rest of America alongside the Academy....The award is based largely on politics and not objective film viewing.

    I can't think of very many other examples of you using America as a personification for alot of people in a particular demographic, but I think you get my point.

  2. It's a very commonly used synecdoche, so I honestly didn't even think about it before I typed it. I'll try to be more careful about that because, yeah, when John Boehner or someone says "America doesn't want this healthcare bill," of course that's ridiculous. Talking about movies has no ramifications, so I kind of just say it unthinkingly.

    Either way, you need to see Do the Right Thing. You will turn back into Tim Wise Jr. for at least a week afterward.

  3. Yeah, I wasn't trying to jump down your throat, because I do know that it is commonly used.

    If its on Netflix, I'll grab it.

  4. I kinda liked this movie, but I could see how people couldn't.

    THANK GOD TRAVESTY WEEK IS OVER *goes to watch Wall-E*

  5. Cameron, you can come over this week sometime and watch Do the Right Thing if you want. I own it.

  6. I actually have no hate for this movie aswell. It was nowhere great, but was interesting to watch and that satisfied me.
    Don't really know if it is worthy of the spot, but it is very low on the list though.

    I'll have to watch Do The Right Thing later aswell. Ebert and Siskel got me interested on that one.

    8-/10 for Crash

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  8. Ah, I'm happy that I FINALLY agreed with you. I was getting worried.
    Sandra Bullock is great in this, the film is not.
    All of Ludacris's scenes were ridiculous. I could rant but you've already hit most of the major points. Thank you.

  9. "always a catharsis and a teary-eyed message"
    "no one gets murdered"

    Did you even watch the fucking film? This has got to be the nadir of negative reviews of crash I've ever seen. Judging on how your criticisms seem to be nothing more than the ones every white hipster kid makes about the film and how you fail to discuss any actual plotlines or scenes from the film, I could be forgiven in thinking you've never even watched it.

    Give it up, kid. You'll never make it as a film writer if this is how you write.

  10. Bert makes a number of great points. I didn't expect this to be one that got a lot of backlash, but I can respect all of those points. I didn't really enjoy this movie and I still kind of saw it as an unrealistic portrait of race relations, but I think you've helped me kind of understand that that isn't all it was trying to communicate. Maybe I need to watch it again sometime in the future.

    And Baldrickthebald, I'm sorry you think my writing is not that of a film writer, but I'm dealing with 250 movies about which EVERYTHING has been said here. I won't pretend to break new ground in my entries. If people want to read them and be entertained/pissed off by them, that's great, but if not, hey, this just exists so I can keep myself honest about watching the whole list. I'm a movie fan, but I'm not a professional critic. I'm going to school for journalism, and maybe some anonymous people on the Internet will make me lean away from doing any kind of movie reviewing. That's fine, I don't think it's what I'll end up doing anyway. I have fun doing it, but there's a million other ways to apply a journalism degree. And yes, I have seen Crash, by the way.

    Anyway, Travesty Week is over now, and I guess I pretty much got what I had coming to me. From here on out it'll be mostly sunny reviews of movies I liked and subdued apprehension about movies I don't. Nothing to make people question why I'm even doing this, I hope. If so, well, whatever, I'm still going to watch all of these damn movies!

  11. Baldrickthebald- Your criticism offered nothing useful, and only succeeded in putting down the writer. Why don't you offer something constructive, such as your own thoughts on the film or what Brad can do better from now on, instead of name calling?