Friday, January 20, 2006

Beep-beep, beep-beep, Yeah! *

My roommate cursed at me the other day. He really liked Crash, apparently. I was busy watching the audio commentary, as I often do when I want to delve further into a particular movie. I probably shouldn't, seeing as it gives me the filmmaker's or some academic's ideas of the movie before I can develop my own, so their impressions influence mine (hence the word 'impression'). But the key is, I was still mulling over it. The film had a bit to offer, and of course I was busy comparing it to Altman's work (specifically Short Cuts) and Magnolia (one of my all time faves). The comparisons may be fair, to say the least, since they were obvious influences, as my man Adam had noted awhile ago in a since defunct web review.
But I was beginning to worry. Not that the movie would be heavy-handed (yeah, racism is bad, but it's hard to overplay that theme to me), but that it would be heavy at the end, with no hope in sight. Still thinking of the ending, I don't trust the near-happy ending we were given, when the slaves were set free by the black man (not-so-handily played by the usually telegenic Ludacris, of course. But more on that later).

Trying to tackle the issue of racism (or sexism, or classism) in America is not easy, and probably shouldn't be left to well-to-do white males. Many, in fact, would argue that it's an impossible piece to tackle in entertainment, others would argue that the arts have an obligation for social issues and that the arts are the perfect place to do so. Anyway, enough Social Sciences 101, Jr. High edition.

The problem is that I saw that Million Dollar Baby nihilism a year ago, by the same screenwriter that also directed this movie. And I was wondering if Crash would end in such a cynical way. One can argue that that is the only way to end such a movie, such crashes/conflicts happening, as Don Cheadle's character deadpans at the beginning, because people are in such need of contact in the impersonal city.

Some lines though - and though this is a narrative, it is an interpersonal narrative, thereby putting the focus on interactions, not structure - grab attention, such as the aforementioned. The latino locksmith's integrity (and affiliations) being questioned by the DA's wife after they got carjacked by a couple of black men in a rant at the husband within ear-range - heck, eye-range - of the locksmith. The gun-seller refusing to give a gun to a Persian store owner - and then calling him Osama and blaming him for 9/11 - because he doesn't know much English, yet begrudgedly selling it to his angry, English-speaking and beautiful daughter. And of the observations that the car-jackers make, my favorite - and the most humorously ironic line in a movie I've heard in a bit was something like (forgive my liberal paraphrasing), "Rap? Don't listen to that stuff, man. It's a tool from the white man. See, in the sixties, we had all these literate, powerful, articulate men. Men like Malcolm, Huey Newton, King... But what happened to them? The CIA and FBI hunted them down. And now, in their place we've got these illiterate mumblers all over the radio rapping about nothing." That line was from Ludicris. I'm glad he has a good sense of humor in his role of contemporary black life. Maybe now 50 could be a little more aware of his impact... no, wait, it's too late for that, isn't it?
So, is it a good movie? I'm still mulling over that. Probably more positive than negative. One thing that I took from the film is that everyone understood fully their little world, their own frustrations and pains, their rage, their bitterness, how they've been attacked by others and probably how they plan on fighting back. I guess empathy is being preached, as well as education, and tolerance, and freedom. All good things, but how you gonna feed some newly freed slaves on twenty bucks?

I guess the US government should have answered that question a hundred and forty years ago.

*Apologies to the Beatles. More or less.


  1. hey! I actually own this movie. It was a buy before I've seen it purchase. I liked it, but it wasn't the greatest. My thoughts and theories on the racial issues are my own and I could delve into that and ramble on for I'm not quite sure of my thoughts on this movie either; however, it was interesting to hear your thoughts on it.


  2. yeah, thanks, destiny.

    i'm of the belief that we need to be of a specific and deliberate and open dialogue about such issues, because they are social - and therefore important - issues. especially as Christians - regenerated people, children of the Most High, people of promise, lovers of liberty and justice, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, i believe it's our business to get involved knee-deep in such issues. (cf, John Piper's pre-MLK Day sermon @ here. so, i'm just saying, we should air out our thoughts, even if - and especially because, they're not complete.

    on another note, do you have a dvd collection? i don't really. most movies i just rent and watch once. cd's on the other hand...

  3. I have both cd and dvd collection...the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem...well, I have a problem. :-)

    I tend to buy dvds on a regularly random (?) basis. it's quite sad. but it's alright, my cd collection is roughly almost 100 cd, and my dvd collection runs to probably 75 or more?! The funny part is that I don't watch tv, like at all. but oh well I guess!

  4. since when has a 100 cd's been a problem?

    i think i've LOST more cd's in the last couple years.

    well, you'll graduate from college sometime soon and begin racking it up.

  5. yeah sure, maybe racking it up, that would be a nice concept, but truth, maybe not! hey, are you online's 920 pm technically is should be like 820ish there...if you are you have aim...holla back at my blog


  6. sorry, i'm in the midst of grading. i can only be ocassionally distracted. barely im'ed my g/f tonight.

    and, act., i don't have aim.

    bt have a great night.


  7. ah...busy with homework..I know the feeling..sort of. well yes, you have a good night as well..I hope all is well out your way.


  8. is it a good movie...
    when I saw it, I'd have said "YES!"

    but when I saw what little splash it made, I had to rethink my answer...
    I think my initial answer should have been "I like it!" and not necessarily "It's a good movie!"...those are two different things. My girlfriend didn't like it. She didn't even think it was good. But I thought it was an intense ride all the way through. I was aware of it's "movieness" the whole time, but the whole time I was also cringing and shaking my head, and dropping my jaw. They hit a Chinaman, Jason!!!

    It did it for me, but does that mean it "does it" ?

    would an academy award even mean anything?

  9. is that a west coast thing?

    i've never heard anyone refered to as a chinaman around these parts. now, everybody of east asian or south pacific ethnicity is refered to as chinese, or, to be more specific, jackie chan.

    yeah, that is a good question, if a bird falls in the forest and no one notices, does anyone care? but my favorite film from last year is still Hotel Rwanda, which i think added to a general sense of, 'this world is messed up, and people outside of us need our help.' hopefully, people took the next step to say, 'what can i do about this?'


Be kind. Rewind.