DVD Review Of Crash
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 5/14/06
Just when I think that the Right Wing mullahs that run this nation could not possibly be smarter than any other sort of human beings, I am proved wrong. The Los Angeles Guilty White Liberal has got to be the dumbest form of humanity going, even moreso than the inbred hillbilly. You know who I mean: the latte sipping crowd that brought you such critically lauded trash as The Hours, which plumbed every arts cliché imaginable; Monster, which revealed Feminazism’s worst side (i.e.- murdering men is ok if the murderer disingenuously claims all men are bad rapists); or Million Dollar Baby, which proved that white trash are probably the only social group still open for out and out mockery. That last piece of tripe, incidentally, was penned by Paul Haggis, the man who wrote and directed this past year’s Academy Award winning film of the year, Crash.
I have yet to see the film which was the Oscar frontrunner that Crash beat out, Brokeback Mountain, but am certain that it will not be a pleasant viewing experience, since it was based upon a horrid short story, and my wife, and several other people whose opinions I listen to, have told me it’s as bad as I fear. However, I find it hard to imagine that film could possibly be as bad as this film because a) it only tells one condescendingly PC tale, as opposed to Crash’s dozen or so, and b) I’ve heard that Ang Lee, that film’s director, did his usual stellar cinematographic job, even if the rest of the film blows. Crash tanks on both these scores. This film is so mind-numbingly bad I really do not know where to begin, save to state that in a few years this will be one of those utter headscratchers, as to why it was ever nominated, much less won for best film. At least in the camp classic, Titanic, one could actively root for Leo DiCaprio’s character to die! In a time where Hollywood was lamenting one of its lowest ticket sales years in a couple of decades, and fearing that it has forever lost a good deal of its regular younger potential audience to DVD, online entertainment, and video games, it’s only fitting that this absolutely atrocious film won an Oscar, for it not only shows how politically and artistically out of touch with reality Hollywood is, but how utterly contemptuous of the intellect of even the most lowest common denominator filmgoer that industry is.
Let me summarize the narrative. A dozen or more small-minded bigots, of all ethnic persuasions, spend a 24 hour period in Los Angeles cursing, hurting, and killing each other, as their stories overlap. That’s it. There is nothing more deep nor more complex than simply that. Haggis’s characterizations consist of people snidely making ethnic comments about one another. A Mexican locksmith is demeaned as a gangbanger, a Persian merchant is sneered at by a gunshop salesman, a white woman is derided as a cold bitch by two black men who hate that she’s a bigot, then prove she was absolutely right to fear them, as they steal her and her husband’s car, Orientals of all sorts are demeaned as ‘Chinamen’, chattel, speech impedimented (saying ‘blake’ for ‘brake’), or illiterate, cops take to stopping rich blacks and then sexually molesting the man’s gorgeous wife, a black cop is mistakenly killed by a racist white cop, yet the black cop turns out to be a stoner and possible drugdealer, a black man makes fun of his Hispanic girlfriend, then wonders why she won’t sleep with him, and on its goes.
The dialogue is stilted and puerile, and I need not have found out that Haggis was born in a small Canadian town to get that he has not a cosmopolitan bone in his body, nor an ear for real dialogue. Nor has he a clue about the power of subtlety. This despicable PC film actually and actively hates intelligence. As evidence of its dramatic weakness, I dare anyone to remember the name of a single character in the film. You cannot, for they are all caricatures and stereotypes, yet utterly undifferentiated from each in their Neandertal attitudes. No wonder Haggis tries to hide the gaping chasms and blemishes in his script with quick cuts, and bad music, in an MTV or Miami Vice manner. Characters act in utterly ridiculous ways, ways that only were meant to serve a seemingly didactic purpose, and while one could believe all these characters’ lives would intertwine in a small town, to have all these coincidences occur in a day in LA stretches credulity to the breaking point. One coincidental meeting, ok, but dozens? Even better, if not great, films, set in LA, like Magnolia, Short Cuts, and Grand Canyon were at their narrative weakest on this level, and very few films that have large ensemble casts, and are composed of vignettes, ever work. Love, Actually, from a few Christmas seasons ago, is the only recent one that comes to mind.
For example, the cop who felt up the black woman turns out to be the only cop willing to save her when she’s in a fiery crash the next day. The black man who disses his Hispanic girlfriend, turns out to be the brother of the thug who is accidentally killed by the good white cop, who freaks out, and who is the partner of the bad cop who felt up the black woman. And that dead thug’s partner in crime ends up carjacking the felt up black woman’s husband’s SUV, only to have them both end up being chased by the cops. The husband is saved by the good cop who kills the thug. And this is only a few of the coincidences. The characters’ motivations are even worse. For example, the Persian goes crazy when his shop is ransacked by racists, after the Hispanic locksmith warned him to replace his door. Instead of doing so, he inexplicably accuses the Hispanic of cheating him, then stalks the locksmith, confronting him, at the man’s home, with the gun he bought from the racist gun dealer. Of course, the Hispanic’s young daughter runs out to her daddy, the gun goes off, and no one is hurt. And, apparently, the Hispanic never calls the cops about the crime and trauma the Persian has put his daughter through. Another of the many inexplicable actions occurs when the racist woman whose car was stolen suddenly becomes less condescending to her Hispanic maid after merely slipping on her stairs. Yes, that’s it. That is her great wakeup call to life.
This inexplicability applies to the dialogue, as well, which sounds like it’s from a failed 1970s Norman Lear sitcom. Although bigotry infects many folks, most human beings do not snap at each other like Klansmen in the first twenty seconds they are in each other’s presence. Not even Spike Lee’s ludicrously stereotyped take on the same subject, from the late 1980s, Do The Right Thing, was this bad. Yet, as bad as the inexplicabilities are, the predictabilities are even worse, such as when the Persian purchases the gun, early in the film, and we know it will have to be used before the film’s end. And when we learn that the black guy who makes fun of his Hispanic girlfriend has a brother in trouble with the law, there’s no question that one of the two black carjacking thugs will turn out to be his brother. Watching this garbage, I had to go back in time to the 1970s issue-of-the-week films, or the ABC Afterschool Specials, to find so simplistic a take on things, yet, in truth, and in retrospect, even they were more complex, by comparison. Another sore point, that manifests a bad screenplay, is the use of throwaway pop cultural references that will be dated in less than a decade.
On a purely cinematic level, the film is just as obvious. Every time Haggis wants to let us know that a dramatic and important ‘moment’ is to occur, a quick cut occurs, or the heavyhanded use of close ups- often in slow motion, when a clichéd speech is about to be made. The New Agey soundtrack is atrocious, and also telegraphs supposed ‘deep’ moments. The acting is uniformly bad. Even Don Cheadle, the best of the bunch, phones in his performance. And given that he was one of the producers for this tripe (thus my mentioning of only his name, while I refuse to shame the rest of the cast by naming them) it only goes to show that the vast majority of actors are utterly clueless as to what constitutes great writing.
As for the DVD features? The commentary by Haggis, Cheadle, and another producer, is the usual shallow, fellatio-filled sort, larded with claims of ‘truth’ in the script, even though there is not a scene nor a word uttered in the film that has any real world ‘truth’. Perhaps the most ridiculous, and humorous, moment comes in a cameo where television actor Tony Danza plays a tv star who wants his black costars to sound more ‘black’, so tells the black tv director to reshoot a scene. No one, in this day and age, is so clueless as to risk a lawsuit by speaking that way in public, yet the trio of fawning Left Wing dimwits comment on Danza’s ‘subtle villainy’, as if needing to display not a one of them has a clue as to the word’s actual definition. Yet, cluelessly written scenes like that abound, and the fact that everyone associated with this film is clueless of them is telegraphed in the film’s very first scene, where Cheadle ludicrously intones that people ‘crash into each other’ just to feel something. Wow! Great concept for a title. Here’s a better one: The Idiots Guide To Racism. Oh, wait, trademark infringement.
The fact is, although most human beings are idiots, in relation to their emotions, their idiocy is born of complexity, which only makes real world idiocy as racism so vexing and puzzling. But, instead of focusing on the vexing motives of people’s bigotry, Haggis shows the shallowness of his understanding of bigotry, not the shallowness of bigotry itself, as well as his utter lack of ambiguity and realism in portraying his characters, their actions, and motivations. This film was two hours of pure movie hell, and one of the worst films ever made; and not in that schlocky Robot Monster nor Plan 9 From Outer Space way that can endear as years pass. It’s especially so, considering that a bumper sticker would have sufficed to convey its trite message. I could literally go on for several more pages, detailing every ridiculous and phony thing in this film, and still not fully convey how truly atrocious watching this film was. It should be reviled as being every bit as bigoted and truly ‘full of hatred’ for humanity, as anything Rush Limbaugh, or his ilk, ever uttered. That no one in Hollywood recognized this real ‘truth’ unfortunately explains why this country is where it is right now, and why racism is not the problem, merely a symptom of the real ill.
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