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By Jordan Hiller




 


Crash (2005)

If the idea is to provide a sexual charge through film, there are two basic methods of execution. The first is simply placing a voluptuous goddess like Salma Hayek or Angelina Jolie on screen and allow them to just exude their sensual femininity. The second is pornography. Both are entertaining and do the trick, and neither are natural or sophisticated, yet porn gets the bad reputation. Why? Because it is unnatural and unsophisticated to an extreme. Because it takes a genuine act and emotional experience and expresses it with such raw physicality , devoid of any outer substance, thereby reducing the act to a sideshow fascination.
 
Crash is like porn. Its depiction of the tenuous race relations in a large diverse metropolis (here, L.A.) is so graphic, in your face, and obvious that you will surely be enthralled and stimulated, but never moved or drawn in.
 
Continuing on the porn theme (because once there, why leave?) there is a very close relationship between this film and one far better and about the pornography industry. Besides the fact that both Crash and Boogie Nights feature Don Cheadle, it is clear that director Paul Haggis is taking a shot at a Paul Thomas Anderson film, merely swapping porn and despair for bigotry and despair. Both films (as well as P.T.'s Magnolia) feature about a dozen characters dipping (or crashing) in and out of each other's lives, setting off chains of events, making impressions, and undergoing fateful exchanges. The eclectic cast including Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Ludacris, and Brendan Fraser are truly first rate and get extra points for taking small roles for the greater good. The most remarkable performances come from Ryan Phillippe as a young cop and the newly minted Terrence Howard, as a successful black man who finds he will never be anything but a successful BLACK man. The scene where these two finally "crash" into one another is the high water mark of the movie - impossible not to feel their intensity and anguish crawling under your skin.
 
The problem with the movie is that it is so brash and transparent in its attempt to spotlight and expose every single conceivable racial divide and stereotype, it loses all credibility and can't be but gawked at. One indication of a flaw in the conceptual process comes from an interview I heard with the writer, Haggis and star, Cheadle. While Haggis says the screenplay included all the ugly epithets and themes because the filmmakers felt everything that was true and real should  be included, Cheadle commented that the film portrays what we are "thinking" about race, what we hold down deep and don't allow to bubble up to the surface. Well that is a surefire contradiction. Is Crash an honest reflection of society, or is it fantasy? Do we truly live in a world, as Crash suggests, where blacks hate whites who demean Hispanics who are loathed by Asians who begrudge Arabs who despise blacks who dismiss Hispanics and so on to infinity? Maybe Haggis think he is "keeping it real" by showing that our solution to all communication and cultural barriers is pulling a gun. I don't live in L.A. and the film claims to be very L.A. specific so maybe I'm missing something critical. And even if it is true that the color of your skin defines everything about you and every race is prejudged by the other, Crash is not the film to convince me of anything. Yes, Crash can be a scintillating and provocative experience, but then again so was Naughty Night Time Nurses VI.

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Please send all comments to Jordan Hiller at jtrick1@aol.com

 

Reviews by Jordan Hiller

Best of 2005 1995

Proof

Brokeback Mountain

Walk the Line

Match Point

Broken Flowers

The Constant Gardener

Crash

Protocols of Zion


Good Night and Good Luck

Everything is Illuminated

Wall

Red Eye

The Goebbels Experiment

The Island

Hustle & Flow

Cronicas

Batman Begins

House of "D"

Le Grand Role

The Ballad of Jack and Rose

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

Million Dollar Baby

Assault on Precinct 13 (AP13)

A love song for Bobby Long

BEST FILMS of 1994

The Assassination of Richard Nixon

Beyond the Sea

Hotel Rwanda

Spanglish

Sideways

Surviving Christmas

The Grudge

Vanity Fair

Door in the Floor

Before Sunset

Spider-Man 2

White Chicks


The Day After Tomorrow

Super Size Me

Godsend

Never Die Alone

Eternal Sunshine 

The Passion  

ALILA

Hiding and Seeking:  Faith and Tolerance after the 
Holocaust

Decryptage

The Ten Best Films of 1993 

The Statement

Big Fish

Hebrew Hammer

Forget Baghdad

The Missing

Master and Commander

Kill Bill

Trembling Before G-d

Girlhood

Veronica Guerin

Pieces of April

Wonderland

Bubba Ho-tep

Casa De Los Babys

Dummy

American Splendor

Gigli

The Holy Land

Return from India

The Shape of Things

City of Ghosts

Anger Management

Levity

The Guys

Assassination Tango

Gaudi Afternoon

Spun

Nowhere in Africa

Foreign Sister

Spider

L’chayim, Comrade Stalin
part 11

part 2

Chicago

Divine Intervention

The Pianist

Best films of 2002 1992

8 mile


Punch Drunk Love


Signs


Gaza Strip

The Kid Stays in the Picture

MIB II

Minority Report

Insomnia

Spider-Man

Spring Movie Preview 2002

Panic Room

The Oscar Preview 2002

Royal Tenenbaums

Harry Potter

The Man who Wasn't There

From Hell

Training Day

Hearts in Atlantis

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

the others

Planet of the apes

Jurassic Park III

A.I.

Shrek & Atlantis

The Mummy Returns

Enemy At the Gates

Heartbreakers

Exit Wounds

15 Minutes

You Can Count on Me

The Mexican

Down to Earth

Meet the Parents

EXTRA! THEATER THAT BANGS:
Golda's Balcony HERE

SPECIAL EDITION:
Tribeca FIlm Festival 2005

Opening Night Premiere of The Interpreter
 

Opening Day Press Conference
 

Hooligans

Little Peace of Mine

 Ushpizin
Looking for the Lost Voice
Slingshot

SPECIAL EDITION:
Tribeca FIlm Festival 2004

Photo Gallery HERE

Film Reviews:

Coffee and Cigarettes

Super Size Me


Cavedweller


The United States of Leland


Baadasssss!

SPECIAL EDITION:
Tribeca FIlm Festival 2003

Daily Coverage: HERE

Photo Gallery HERE


Film Reviews:

A Breach in the Wall

Every Child is Born a Poet: The Life and Work of Piri Thomas

Paper Chasers


Resisting Paradise


MC5: A True Testimonial


Sweet Sixteen


The Shape of Things


Yossi and Jagger


Persona Non Grata



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