on March 14, 2006
Crash is a terrible overplayed afterschool special. The worst part of it is that a few older actors admitted they didn't want to see Brokeback Mountain , so it appears they voted for this by default. (frankly, those actors shouldn't be voting if they haven't seen the movies and should be kicked out of the academy).
It doesn't really matter anyway, the oscars have lost all integrity. The Crash team basically paid for their 'best picture' award. (The distributor even admitted that the few million they spent sending 130,000 dvds to academy members would pay off in about $10 million in additional revenue for Crash if they could get it to win 'best picture').
If you want an idea of what movies to watch based on awards from organizations with members who are movie fanatics and actually watch the movies that they vote for, then I would say check out the GOLDEN GLOBES, the INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARDS and the BAFTA (basically the British top movie awards). Interesting how ALL these groups gave the best picture of 2005 award to Brokeback Mountain. Remember, the Oscars are about business and making more money , not honoring the movie and movie fans.
on April 9, 2006
1st question - is this movie meant to be taken seriously with a serious message or not? If not - end of review. Watch the movie, enjoy the entertainment value, eat some popcorn....
If to be taken seriously - and presumably so winning 'Best Picture' Oscar somebody intended it to be, Wwwellll.....come on out to Virginia! There's not a lick of bigotry, biasness, or racism in my part of the country......! I have not yet in 15 years of living here, seen one act portrayed in this movie played out anywhere in any day of my life or travels. How lucky AM I??? AND....there should be no liars, cheaters, pediphiles, rapists, druggies, killers...because they too would ACT AND TALK like liars, cheaters, pediphiles, rapists, druggies, killers.... being so obvious that anyone could point them out a safe distance away - surely they must be as easy to pick out as a racist, even easier, racists being so visible and all....til now at least that's been a hard one for me to delineate....
2nd question - WAS art SUPPOSE to imitate life? Or be mostly entertainment with a message tucked in casually? which would be different from say - a serious message in a movie created perhaps.....from that very bigotry? Stereotyping???!!
3rd question - has life become so revolved around cell phones, rush hour traffic, microwave dinners, whatever forms fast-pace life-styles take across this country....that the norm of Hollywood directors assume the 'sledge-hammer' approach is the only way to get our attention? That subtlety, the language of the heart, would be buried too quickly and lost on us, the viewers - under the pressures of our fast-pace everyday lives? That we generally would not be given the credit to know the difference between the power in our hearts and the force upon our brains?
There are precious few directors these days who understand the power of subtlety. And it's exquisite potential as a background showcase for the shattering affect of a 'sledgehammer' moment. How the result can profoundly touch and turn a viewer's heart like nothing else going far beyond the message into 'transformation'. Movies like this make me deeply appreciate those few that do.
on March 22, 2006
I haven't seen "Brokeback Mountain," the much ballyhooed front runner for the best picture Oscar that, in the end, had to content itself with honors in three lesser categories (as well as best picture honors from just about every other organization that hands out such trophies), so I can't contribute to the debate that continues to rage, fueled by those who think Ang Lee's drama was robbed by "Crash."
But having finally seen "Crash" in a copy loaned from my local public library, I can certainly understand why the controversy is so emotionally heated.
Let the dishonest "no helpful" votes begin (dishonest because they usually come from people who already saw and/or own this movie and are rating reviews based on whether or not they agree with them, not on whether or not the review was truly helpful).
The most prominent champion of "Crash" was Roger Ebert (and his less prominent TV co-host) who admitted in his review of "The Dukes of Hazzard" that he wasn't familiar with the TV show on which it was based because he wasn't watching television much in the 70s when it was popular. Well, if Roger hadn't been so busy seeing movies, or, more likely the case, wasn't such a TV snob (as many "film critics" tend to be), he might have seen one of the seemingly endless number of made for TV movies from that decade that "Crash" resembles. Most were 90 minute ripoffs of theatrical films, and a fair number of them were produced by Aaron Spelling for ABC's Movie of the Week.
Some had their feet planted squarely in the "disaster" genre so popular at the time in which assorted stereotypes are thrown together in a moment of crisis, argue about race and other matters few people are likely to think about when (A) trapped in a subway; (B) trapped on a hijacked plane; (C) trapped in an elevator in a burning building, etc, etc. There was always a street wise black guy in a Superfly outfit that few blacks would have been caught dead in; the Jewish character, usually a delicatessen owner, who spouts various cliched homilies; a Puerto Rican with a pregnant wife; a homosexual (limp-wristed variety), etc, all in opposition to each other until the heartwarming finale when their nearly fatal experience has drawn them together, enabling them to understand that, you know, black people are pretty much like white folk, and Puerto Ricans and Jewish delicatessen owners are, well, you know, no different than the blacks who, as already noted, are no different from the whites, etc, etc, etc.
"Crash" is marginally better because it doesn't trap its cardboard characters in a plane about to dive into the ocean, or on a cruise ship overturned by a tidal wave, or in a 20 car pileup on a busy highway, but it's still the kind of hackneyed attempt at serious filmmaking guaranteed to inspire snickers from those of us who know a little something about people and real life. Contrivance is a tool that every filmmaker uses, as does every story teller in any medium. When the story teller is truly gifted, the seams don't show. In "Crash," those seams are dangling and coming apart in our faces, so obviously do the filmmakers hammer home their "message," which has been delivered many times before, and more convincingly, too, whether it was in 1967's Oscar winning "In the Heat of the Night," or an episode of the landmark 70s sitcom "All in the Family."
The performances are all mediocre, but it's hard to fault the actors when they're spouting dialogue that sounds like it was cribbed from a newspaper's editorial pages, albeit with the addition of the F word that filmmmakers think "real people" use more frequently than they do. Cops may talk like that, and street punks may talk like that, but most Arab store owners, and most respectible people, do so only in the heat of passion. (Yeah, I know. EVERYONE in this movie is lost in the heat of passion, but not credibly so).
Matt Dillon's facial expressions bring to mind the frequently deranged looking grin worn by Robert DeNiro in some of his lesser performances. And Dillon got an Oscar nomination for that??? Don Cheadle smokes cigarette after cigarette, as if he just doesn't know what to do with himself. Some of the other black actors get stuck with the worst, most unconvincing dialogue, deriding rap for perpetuating stereotypes on one hand, and taking offense that a white woman played by Sandra Bullock clutches her purse when they pass, even though these particular black characters are the kind who make clutching one's purse necessary.
Other "name" (as opposed to "star") performers turn up throughout including Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe, Brendon Fraser, Jennifer Esposito, and Tony Danza. Tony Danza??? Yes, Tony Danza, the former sitcom actor turned talk show host, whose appearance in a small role serves no purpose other than to make the audience say, "That's Tony Danza!"
The music score may be the most pretentious aspect of "Crash." It's one of those New Agey things with an etheral vocal, the likes of which is being used too often in movies these days.
It usually takes a little more time to digest the Academy's choices for best film and decide whether they made the right call or not, but not this year. The Academy blew it! "Crash" just may be the worst film ever to be named best picture of the year. Two big swollen thumbs down for this truly awful film.
on May 5, 2013
This movie was a requirement for one of my wife's classes. I can't remember a more painful movie to watch. The hate and filth of prejudice is unbearable! The A-list of actors and actresses is the only thing good. We ended up stopping the movie midway through due to the destructive behavior of the characters. I would have never bought this movie if not for my wife's class and would strongly advise NOT to get this movie!
on March 26, 2006
Way too many characters and subplots going on in this movie. I found myself asking "What the hell is going on?" 39 minutes into the movie. And at the ending, I asked "What the hell was that?". I have never written a review on Amazon before and I've been frequenting this site for 8 years now, but I just couldn't resist this time. This has to be one of THE worst movies I've seen in years. The storyline of the cop and Thandie Newton is so unbelievable, I couldn't help but laugh at it. I bought this movie because of all the Oscar hype, but I just don't get it. Too many things going on all at once and it just seems like none of the storylines ended. I feel really cheated.
on March 12, 2006
I admire Crash for trying to tackle a tough issue like racism. I feel that more movies should try and take on such social issues. But Crash does so in such an unrealistic and untruthful way that it is impossible to take seriously or learn anything from.
Below is part of Erik Lundegaard's article for msnbc.com. I obviously did not write it, but I agree with it 100% and could not have said it better myself:
This is the worst best picture winner since "The Greatest Show on Earth" in 1952. It may be worse than that. "Greatest Show" was a dull, bloated romance set against the backdrop of a three-ring circus but at least it didn't pretend to be important. "Crash" thinks it's important. "Crash" thinks it's saying something bold about racism in America.
But what is it saying?
That we all bear some form of racism. That we all "stereotype" other races. That, when pressured, racist sentiments spill out of us as easily as escaped air.
Here's my take. Yes, we all bear some form of racism - that's obvious. Yes, we all "stereotype" other races in some fashion - that's obvious. (Particularly obvious in the Los Angeles of "Crash," where so many characters are stereotypes.) But, no, we don't easily give voice to our racist sentiments. And that's why "Crash" rings so false.
Last month I wrote an article on the best picture nominees (called "Anything But `Crash'") in which I talked about how the most potent form of racism in this country is no longer overt but covert. Once upon a time, yes yes yes, it was overt, which is another reason why "Crash" sucks. It's doing what simple-minded generals do: It's fighting the last war.
The "Crash" quiz
Here, let's take a little quiz. Say you're an Asian woman who has just rear-ended the car in front of you. What do you do? Do you...
Wait in your car until a police officer arrives
Exchange licenses with the driver of the other car
Notice that the driver of the other car is someone who looks like Jennifer Esposito, immediately assume she's Mexican-American (as opposed to, say, Italian-American), and then tell the African-American police officer that "Mexicans no know how to drive."
How about this one? You're talking to a bureaucrat on the phone about getting extra care for your father who is having trouble urinating, and she is not helpful. You ask for her name and she tells you: Shaniqua Johnson. You still need her help. What do you say?
"Shaniqua. That's a beautiful name."
"Shaniqua. You could do a better job of helping my father, who is in pain.
"Shaniqua. Big f---ing surprise that is."
One last one. You've just been told by your hot, hot girlfriend, with whom you're lucky to be sleeping in the first place, that she is not Mexican as you presumed; that her mother is from Puerto Rico and her father is from El Salvador. What do you say?
"I'm sorry, honey. I'm surprised I didn't know that. Now come back to bed."
"Really? How did they meet?"
"Who took [all Latinos] and taught them to park their cars on their lawns?"
And on and on and on. Every scene. Put a little pressure on somebody and they blurt simplistic racist sentiments. Right in the face of someone of that race.
Worse, none of it feels like sentiments these characters would actually say. It feels like sentiments writer/director Paul Haggis imposed upon them to make his grand, dull point about racism, when a more telling point about racism might have emerged if he'd just let them be. "Crash" is like a Creative Writing 101 demonstration of what not to do as a writer. To the Academy this meant two things: Best screenplay and best picture.
The Sandra Bullock/Ludacris scene
A few readers objected to my column last month - and will no doubt object to this one. They felt "Crash" taught them something important about race. More's the pity. They said they learned that even good people do bad things, and even bad people have moments of compassion. Sorry they didn't already know this. They felt like "Crash" was a movie the average person could support. "Average," I guess, is the key word here.
Some agreed with me that the most potent form of racism today is covert rather than overt; but they added that this was a movie, after all, not a book, and in a movie you can't show characters thinking.
Ah, but you can. Paul Haggis even did it in "Crash" - in the scene where Sandra Bullock's character grabs her husband's arm as two black men approach. Her move toward her husband is silent and instinctive, and Ludacris' character suspects she does what she does because he's black, and she's scared of him, but he has no evidence. We only get the evidence later, from her, when she argues with her husband about the Latino locksmith. And even this scene is handled ineptly. She should have argued with her husband upstairs, away from the help. But Haggis wanted her to complain about the Latino locksmith within earshot of the Latino locksmith - because apparently that's how we all do it. Lord knows if I don't trust someone because of their race and/or class I raise my objection within earshot of them. Doesn't everyone?
The main point is that you can dramatize our more covert forms of racism. But here's how bad "Crash" is. Even though the Bullock/Ludacris scene is one of the more realistic scenes in the movie, it is still monumentally simplistic. I have a white female friend who lives close to the downtown area of her city. Usually she walks home from downtown. If she does this after dark, and two men are walking towards her, she'll cross to the other side of the street to avoid them. But if the two men are black? She won't do this, because she's afraid of appearing racist. That's how much of a conundrum race is in this country. "Crash" didn't begin to scratch that surface.
So why did it win?
There are rumors that older Academy members shied away from even viewing "Brokeback Mountain" for the usual homophobic reasons. Lionsgate also pushed "Crash" on Academy voters; it handed out a record number of DVDs and advertised heavily. I don't know which explanation bothers me more. All I know is I feel sick. It feels like the '72 Olympic basketball finals, when the Russians cheated and won; it feels like the '85 World Series when a blown call in game six tilted the balance towards the Royals. It feels like the good guys wuz robbed.
My friend Jim is more interested in the Academy than anyone I know who isn't involved in the industry. (He's a chauffeur in Seattle.) By early summer he's already talking up possible nominees. The discussion reaches a fever pitch in November and December when the prestige pictures are rolled out and critics make their "best of" announcements. He goes to see these films. He talks about them. He actually cares.
"Crash's" win did him in. The Academy, he said afterwards, "is not a serious body of voters who vote rationally. If they're influenced by a DVD sales pitch, they're not worth my time."
Are they worth anyone's time? Once again, they showed themselves susceptible to something other than a legitimate search for "the best." Once again, marketing appears to have won. The Academy is 78 years old and acting every bit of it, and last night they took another doddering step towards irrelevancy.
on March 20, 2013
This movie won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, yet it is a self-indulgent "art" film. I think writer Paul Haggis crafted it specifically to woo the dopey members of the Academy and the pretentious, big-name critics.
So even though most people will not be too thrilled sitting through this, it might be worth your while so you can connect some high profile critics to their ridiculous reviews. Peter Travers at Rolling Stone said, "A Knockout!". David Denby at The New Yorker said, "Easily the strongest American film since 'Mystic River'." A better epithet would be, "A serious contender for worst 'Best Picture' winner."
on March 27, 2006
Stereotypical 2-dimensional characters; unbelievable plot line; left me totally cold after I saw it. I forgot it 5 minutes after the movie was over and never even talked about it with friends. It did not touch me or move me at all like BrokeBack Mountain and Capote did. Can't believe it won best picture over the other 4 nominated movies. Walk the Line wasn't even nominated and Crash ended up on many critic's 10 worst movies list. What a joke. I think every unemployed actor and actress in Hollywood was in this movie and that's why it won. The American public and the Academy knows it made an embarrassing mistake naming this the best picture.
on March 31, 2006
The writing is BAD BAD BAD.
I knew I should have turned this movie off when a woman called her son and he answered the phone and said, "I can't talk now, Mom. I'm ******* a white woman." Turns out the woman is hispanic and they fight for 10 minutes.
If this sounds ridiculous to you, it only gets worse. Every storyline in this film is outrageously bad and conveys all of the racist stereotypes the film allegedly fights against.
One heavy-handed, poorly written scenario after another.
The cast screams and yells and hates for two unbearable hours and then it snows.
Watch 'Do The Right Thing' instead, a far less flawed exploration of race relations.
on March 25, 2006
I'm originally from Canada (as is the maker of this film, Mr. Haggis) and moved to the United States about five years ago. It is from movies like this that people in other countries get their crazy ideas about the USA.
A lady in Memphis has "Life's Like That" as the title of her Amazon review. If anyone who lives in, or has spent a lot of time in, the United States thinks that life is as it is portrayed in "Crash" then they should take their medication. You can just imagine the poor thing in the community room of a Memphis mental hospital watching "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" on TV and thinking, "Life's like that!"
A reviewer in multi-racial Iceland wrote that Crash is "the best film I ever saw." Of course, she didn't say if she has seen any other films. Perhaps Crash was the first. Another reviewer who uses the name "Lujan Matus," and won't say where he is from, wrote that Crash is "Astonishingly Realistic." Assuming that he is sane, based on his name, I suspect that he lives in Spain or Latin America. There is a book by a Lujan Matus for sale at Amazon (check it out if you don't believe me) that, according to the editorial review, contains "powerful life lessons and encoded information that shakes the foundations of cognition and transports the reader into alternate realms," so perhaps my assumption that he is sane was a mistake.
Crash is an attempt to raise our level of consciousness about racism to the level of Mr. Haggis, and it is too unreal and ham-handed about it to be taken seriously. Don't waste your time and money on this one.