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Old 22nd Aug 2005, 11:38   #1
ono no komachi
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Default Crash

Crash is not a comfortable film to watch. I'm pretty sure I winced at least once within the first five minutes. The central plot (if it can be said to have one, since there are several interwoven storylines) concerns an LAPD detective played by Don Cheadle. At the beginning of the film we see him at a crime scene, of which we don't find out the relevance until the very end of the film.

The main reason for the discomfiture is that the director (Paul Haggis of Million Dollar Baby fame - Honey, I think you might like this one, too) has his characters display racism in many forms throughout the film. It's easy to assume that this is his main theme; it would have been even easier had he fallen into the trap of making this a single dimension of some characters, which appears to be a danger early on in the proceedings, particularly with Matt Dillon's seasoned cop, who is revealed to be so spectacularly racist that his young partner requests a different duty.

But through a series of interconnected events, bringing a disparate group of characters into contact with each other (yes it does make you think of Magnolia - I fear it's less accomplished, though I may have fallen into the trap of thinking this because it portrays a less glamorous, grittier reality) it gradually reveals many facets and circumstances which make you rethink your previous opinion, and demonstrates that you can have fellow feeling for someone of whose behaviour you profoundly disapprove. It shows us our own desire to pigeonhole people and dismiss their complexities and tells us not to do that.

It falls short of being a great movie (although I'm finding myself remembering more and more that I liked about it as I write this) because it relies a bit too heavily on having the characters experience exaggerated reactions, and sometimes stretches the believability of the coincidences a little bit far. I also felt that the director was playing 'good cop, bad cop' by punching me in the stomach with some dreadful event and then relenting in a 'look, things aren't as bad as you think' kind of way. I guess his doing that makes it have a good deal of emotional impact, however.

Really really good performances by a great ensemble cast - as well as Don Cheadle, whose understated performance is probably the most impressive - Sandra Bullock, Brendan Fraser (no, honestly!) and Ryan Phillippe were all very very good. Remains at four out of five for me though (Magnolia remains one of my few five-starrers).
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Old 22nd Aug 2005, 12:23   #2
jim
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I thought Matt Dillon' portrayal of the racist cop was first rate.

I'm afraid I blubbed quite spectacularly during the scene where the persian shop owner tracks down the locksmith at his house. I mean, not just a tear running down my cheek but great big heaving sobs. Not very dignified and I felt a bit resentful that the director had manged to manipulate my emotions quite so successfully.

I pretty much agree with your views. A good film but not a great one.
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Old 22nd Aug 2005, 12:31   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim
I'm afraid I blubbed quite spectacularly during the scene where the persian shop owner tracks down the locksmith at his house. I mean, not just a tear running down my cheek but great big heaving sobs.
Oh Lordy, yes indeed. I think there were about half a dozen other people in the auditorium where we were, and I'm sure some of my gasped 'oh no!'s and certainly my whimpers during that particular scene would have been audible to the others. Thanks goodness for the dark, that's what I say.
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Old 22nd Aug 2005, 14:30   #4
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A bit naughty of them to call it the same thing as the 1966 J G Ballard / David Cronenberg movie.
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Old 22nd Aug 2005, 14:32   #5
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Quote:
A bit naughty of them to call it the same thing as the 1966 J G Ballard / David Cronenberg movie.
Yes, I thought that.
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Old 26th Aug 2005, 18:00   #6
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Not much time for a full comment now, but I thought this was a great film, and probably on a par with Magnolia which I also loved. The coincidences didn't seem too contrived to me, and I cried unashamedly too at several points, mostly when the character's themselves realised how their prejudices made living their lives hard, made them angry all the time, as Sandra Bullock was.

Not easy to watch, but worth it oh yes.
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Old 6th Sep 2005, 15:50   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gil
A bit naughty of them to call it the same thing as the 1966 J G Ballard / David Cronenberg movie.
Listened to Mark kermode's review of this on the radio recently, and he considers this and Cronenberg's Crash to be companion pieces, and that they are connected in some way, not least through the car crashes.
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Old 6th Sep 2005, 17:12   #8
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I read the screenplay for the Cronenberg Crash and it made a lot of sense at the time, but I've never seen the film. In last month's Empire mag, there was a feature on *this* current Crash, and it said there were at least five (I think) other films out there with the same title.
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Old 6th Sep 2005, 19:57   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colyngbourne
I read the screenplay for the Cronenberg Crash and it made a lot of sense at the time, but I've never seen the film.
Lucky you! What pretentious crap. It's supposed to be all scandalous and gauche, and Cronenberg is trying sooo hard to impress. It's boring and so pompous that at some point, it becomes funny. Don't even bother.
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Old 6th Mar 2006, 15:30   #10
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Default Re: Crash

So, another Oscar winner from the pen of Paul Haggis. Should I see it (is it even on anywhere, or perhaps out on DVD by now?), or will I be disappointed again...?
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