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Review: Ensemble cast delivers top-notch performances in reflective drama
Brambo11 September 2004
In a drama strikingly reminiscent in style and tone of P.T. Anderson's film Magnolia (1999), the narrative in Crash shifts between 5 or 6 different groups of seemingly unconnected characters, whose relationships to each other are only revealed in the end.

Not to be confused with the David Cronenberg feature of the same name, this Crash is the feature-length, studio-released directorial debut of veteran Canadian TV writer/producer/director and two-time Emmy-winner Paul Haggis. An in-depth exploration on the themes of racism and prejudice, cause and effect, chance and coincidence, and tragedy, "crash" is a metaphor for the collisions between strangers in the course of day-to-day existence. Set over a 24-hour period in contemporary L.A., it is a social commentary on the interconnectedness of life in the big city.

Crash features a top-notch ensemble cast which includes: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillipe and Larenz Tate. All put in superb performances in a tight script which is at once gritty, heartwarming, shocking, tragic and witty, and which will ring true with viewers of all demographics.

Centering around two disturbing car accidents, a carjacking, vicious workplace vandalism, and the suspicious shooting death of one police officer by another, the drama is set against the backdrop of a racist LAPD and Los Angeles justice system. Action shifts between the various characters, whose lives collide with each other in unpredictable ways as each faces their own moral dilemma, and tries to cope with the consequences of their resulting decision made or action taken. Each of the dozen or so main characters undergoes some type of a personal metamorphosis as the various story lines head toward a striking, common conclusion, which succeeds at being both cathartic and unsettling.

Crash is backed by a solid and varied, original soundtrack and excellent cinematography. Sweeping, wider shots alternate with disjointed camera angles which convey the chaos and confusion of the characters and the unpredictability of life. Occasional lingering close-ups -- on occasion without sound -- capture the actors' facial expressions, which suitably detail key moments of the characters' aching pain, fear, anger, bitter anguish, remorse or grief, far better than any dialogue could.

This breathtaking film is destined to be a critical smash and box-office hit. Five stars.
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Volatile Redemption
mercybell13 May 2005
"Crash" is a complex movie with a simple premise: set in Los Angeles it follows 8 main characters (and many, many more supporting) from all walks of life and races whose lives intersect at some point during one 24 hour period. These people are all different yet all alienated, to the point of breaking, so much so that when they come together, things explode.

The complexity of the film comes from the encounters between characters and their tangled lives and worlds. Haggis' screenplay is so intricate and delicately written I couldn't begin to try to summarize the actual plot line (which destines this article to be kind of vague), but everyone meets everyone else at some point in the film (and there are a whole lot of characters). Sufficed to say these meetings are variably intense, casual, fleeting, dangerous, but they all effect the participants in profound and provocative ways, causing lives to find enlightenment or swerve violently, and watching it all unfold is mesmerizing because Paul Haggis (Oscar Nominated writer of Million Dollar Baby) made the film meaty with messy characters and topics and stories to chew and hurtle along with.

The all-encompassing theme of the film is racism, and it is dealt with bluntly, honestly, and without reservation. Every single character participates in the perpetuation of the ugly cycle but also suffers because of it. Where racism makes for an interesting enough subject for an already provoking and fairly experimental film (I was surprised to see this get wide release), it's only the catalyst for a deeper, resounding story of redemption and the universality of our lonely situation which the movie becomes during its second hour (what you could call Act II). It switches from a somewhat depressing contemplative amalgamation of moments about racism in everyday life and how destructive it is, to a throbbing, intense web of choices and consequences -- life and death, vivifying or soul killing -- and the chance at redemption.

Following their actions in Act I, everyone meets a fork in the road or is given a second chance of some sort. Some take it, some don't, but regardless, by the end of the movie everyone has changed. This is what gives the movie wings during its second hour, makes it interesting, keeps you guessing and on knife's-edge. It also gives the characters depth and souls and shows that despite perceived and upheld differences, when it comes down to it we aren't different (which we see in a shattering scene between Ryan Philippe and Larenz Tate after Tate notices that he and Philippe have the same St. Christopher statue), in fact we desperately need each other. It's one of the few films I've seen where everyone is at fault somehow and yet there are no villains. It makes it hopeful, particularly with something as ugly as racism: everyone's fallible, but everyone has the capacity for good and nobility. That said, each of these character's inner struggles makes for all the conflict and resolution you need.

A talented ensemble drives the film, sharing almost equal amounts of screen time, but the folks who really stood out and had my full attention each time were Terrence Howard (plays a TV director), Matt Dillon (as a patrol cop), Sandra Bullock (a rich housewife), , Don Cheadle (a detective), and Michael Peña (a locksmith). These five gave deeply, deeply felt performances portraying a wide range of emotions and personal situations, giving souls -- alone, yearning, and searching in a world that doesn't seem to care -- to shells of imperfect people. But the actors triumph in little moments of human contact: a glance, an embrace, a pause, a smile, a wince, things that breath the film to life and with simple visuals give it profundity. This is beautifully illustrated in a small scene between the downward spiraling Jean (Sandra Bullock) and her maid after she's begun to realize all her problems may not be about the two black guys who car jacked her, but her own life.

Some closing notes: it's obvious it's a debut. At times the dialogue and acting can be stilted and unnatural; some of the initial "racial" situations seem forced; certain scenes could have used some editing or fine tuning, but by the end I didn't care. It also may be helpful to know that the first hour spends its time setting everything up for Act II, although it will seem more like a photo essay on racism than a setup. But by the time Act I ends you're ready for something substantial to happen, and at the perfect moment, stuff happens. I was entirely satisfied with this movie, I couldn't have asked for anything more. Still it's impressive, with his debut Haggis made a film that magically maintains a storytelling balancing act about people's lives that almost seamlessly flows, takes an honest look at racism with an understanding of mankind, a belief in redemption, and even hope. As I walked out of the theater into the rainy night it resonated with me and colored my thoughts as I made my way through the crowds of unknown fellow people filling the cinema. That's about all I can ask for in a film.
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Roller-coaster of emotions
Vitarai1 May 2005
Like Altman's classic Short Cuts, and Anderson's Magnolia, Crash, by writer/director Paul Haggis weaves a tale of multiple characters through the web of streets we have come to know as Los Angeles. Unlike those other two films this one has a very specific theme to explore. From the opening line uttered by Don Cheadle we know this is to be a film about how people relate, and from the interchange that follows between Jennifer Esposito and Alexis Rhee (pretty sure she plays the Korean female driver who rear-ended her) how people relate tends to be ruled by first impressions or prejudice.

Race is paramount in this film, and all our preconceptions of who people are get twisted and turned through the intricate plot. With each new additional character we find another assumption, another stereotype, and then watch as that preconception is obliterated as the character develops. It is a credit to the deftly written script, tight direction and exceptional acting talent that every one of these many characters is fully realized on screen without ever feeling one-dimensional.

I would love to discuss some of the details of what happens to explain how well it is done, but part of the magic of this film is allowing yourself to be taken on this ride. Mind you, this isn't a ride of pleasure. The first half of this film is unrelentingly in its ferociousness. I could literally feel my rage at some of the characters forming to a fever pitch. The fear and hatred I was confronting wasn't just on the screen, but in the pit of my stomach. And in one absolutely brilliant moment I was literally sobbing at the expectation of horror unfolding, only to be cathartically released in a most unexpected way.

Mr. Haggis was in attendance at the screening I saw and explained that the idea for this film came to him one night sometime after 9/11 at about 2a.m. when his own memories of a car- jacking experience from 10 years before wouldn't leave him alone. Clearly this film was his way of relieving those demons of memory, using the catharsis of his art to unleash them and in doing so has given to all viewers of cinema an opportunity to examine our own preconceptions about race relations and how we treat each other and think of ourselves. He mentioned in the discussion after-wards that he likes to make films that force people to confront difficult issues. Films that ask people to think after the film has ended and not just leave saying: "that was a nice film".

This isn't a "nice" film, and I would expect that it will provoke many a discussion in the ensuing weeks when it opens nation-wide. It's a discussion long overdue for this country, and it took a Canadian to bring the issue to the fore in this brilliant, thought provoking film.
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Great acting ensemble but the movie left a bad taste in my mouth
heymikey19817 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
THE GOOD: The acting were great especially Terrence Howard and Thandie Newton. Terrence Howard should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor instead of Matt Dillon.

THE BAD: I'm a visible minority (non-white) and I have experienced some form of racism in my life. BUT despite my life experiences and the movie's subject matter, I would definitely NOT say that this movie is the best of the year, in fact, it's FAR from it. I have problems with this movie both from a moviegoer's perspective and from a visible minority's perspective. Some of my problems with this movie are:

(1) Poor character development (or none at all). Just because we saw extremes in a character, for example, Matt Dillon being a racist cop and being a good caregiver to his ailing father, that does not mean in any way that the character is well-developed. Yes, I admit that in a big cast ensemble like in this movie, it is quite difficult for every character to be well-developed, BUT that does not mean that at none of the characters should be like that.

(2) The dialogue seems really contrived to the point that I'm really surprised this movie won for Best Original Screenplay. They should show this movie in a screenplay writing class NOT because it's good but to show students and future screenplay writers what NOT to do. I just felt like I've been hit by the head over and over again how bad racism is. I get it.

(3) The plot seems so coincidental, it is laughable. What are the chances of a black car robber running over an Asian guy who also happens to be a human trafficker while entering his van, and that same black car robber ended up carjacking that Asian guy's van several hours later after he brought him the hospital, only to find out that the several Asians being trafficked inside the van just to show you that the black car robber has a good side after all? Or, what about that scene where a prejudiced upper-class white woman who fell down the stairs and all her prejudice and hatred vanished into thin air? If it was THAT simple, why don't we throw every racist in America down the stairs so they will have a change of heart?

(4) I think my biggest misgivings about this movie is the unrealistic view of racism. As someone who has experienced racism in my life, the realistic view of racism is that it is hidden rather than in your face. I've been refused to enter a supermarket because I'm not white. Did the store owner said because I was not white? No, he said the store was closing even though there were a lot of people shopping inside. Did he yell racial slurs? No. Racism in America is more hidden. Some cab drivers probably won't stop to pick you up because you're non-white but that does not mean that they will try to run you over or get out and say racial slurs. If a Chinese woman rear-ended me, I won't be saying "blake! blake! Learn some English bitch!". On the other hand, if I was a Chinese woman and I accidentally rear-ended a Mexican woman, I won't say "Mexicans are bad drivers" in front of her face. That's not how things work. Instead, I would give out my insurance info, say sorry, and go home and tell my fellow Chinese friends and family that Mexicans are poor drivers and make fun of them behind their backs. That is the real racism. It's hidden and not in your face.

Anyway, Crash is not original unlike what some people may say. The interlocking and interweaving story lines, plots, and characters have been done before. "Magnolia" is a movie that does this much better than Crash did and yet, it was never nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. It had a stellar cast -- Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (who won best Actor recently), Tom Cruise, etc. It really boggles my mind how Crash was even nominated for Best Picture.
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There is Good and Bad in All of Us
asbufra@yahoo.com23 April 2005
There is good and bad in all of us. This movie explores this like no other. It will make you think about the nature of bigotry and stereotypes. The characters switch from heavy to hero in a way that is deeply moving and exhilarating. It is TV drama style writing where several different groups of characters and plots interweave (Paul Haggis) but with none of the limits of TV, it reminded me of "Hill Street Blues" which from me is a big compliment. I am a Don Cheadle fan and he captures the role. Sandra Bullock plays against character and pulls it off with ease. The most impressive performance to me was Ryan Phillippe's. Almost every nationality in LA was represented and they all were interesting and realistic. The ensemble cast and various plots blend together and keep your interest. Cast is great, music is haunting, writing is superb. Go see this movie.
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Insults intelligence and cheapens the message, if there is one.
billkwando19 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this "movie" partly because of the sheer number of good reviews at Netflix, and from it I leaned a valuable lesson. Not a lesson about ethnic diversity however...the lesson I learned is "Don't trust reviews".

Yes, racism sucks and people are complicated, but the people who actually need to see this movie are going to be the ones who are the least drawn to it and least affected by it if they DO see it. The only reason that I can think of for the number of good reviews is that it's being reviewed by people who aren't used to thinking, or who've seen their first thought-provoking movie and somehow think that Haggis invented the concept. In fact, he basically made this film, which should be called "Racism For Dummies", as emotionally wrenching as possible, seemingly to give people who don't spend a lot of time thinking the impression that they've discovered some fundamental truth that's never been covered in a film before. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanence it's not... An after-school special for the unthinking masses, cut into bite-sized overwrought ham-fisted pieces to make it easier to swallow without too much introspection.

It's as if they portrayed everyone as being the worst possible extreme, simply to make us happy that we're such good people because we don't identify with the characters. Let's face it people. NOBODY identifies with these characters because they're all cardboard cutouts and stereotypes (or predictably reverse-stereotypes). It's well acted (even if the dialog is atrocious) and cleverly executed, so much that you don't think to ask "where's the beef?" until you can tell the film is winding down. The flaming car scene was well executed, like much of the movie, but went nowhere in the end.

The messages are very heavy-handed, and from the "behind the scenes" blurb, the producers were clearly watching a different movie, because there is very little to laugh about in this movie, even during the intended funny parts. I have to stress that this is NOT entertainment, more like a high school diversity it the "Blood on the Highway" of racism. They could even show this in high schools if it weren't for the "side-nude" shot of Jennifer Esposito.

In this film, everyone's a jerk and everyone learns a lesson (except for Michael Pena who gets the best role, but the most predictable storyline).

This is a bad film, with bad writing, and good ugly cartoon crafted by Paul Haggis for people who can't handle anything but the bold strokes in storytelling....a picture painted with crayons.

Crash is a depressing little nothing, that provokes emotion, but teaches you nothing if you already know racism and prejudice are bad things.
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Was I watching a different movie?
tclark-52 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I get the impression that I was watching a different movie to the majority of other people I know who have seen this film. It's not really that I found the film offensive or anything - just that the script was unbelievably amateurish for a film that had obviously had a bit of money thrown at it. I really respected Paul Haggis' work on the Million Dollar Baby script and was bitterly disappointed to see how bad this script was. It was clear to me that it was desperate to be the 'racism' version of Traffic, but I don't think Traffic was really a film worth ripping off in the first place.

The worst feature of thisfilm is the way it shamelessly spoon-feeds its audience. Does Haggisreally think we are so dumb as to require a shot of the blanks? Do wereally need to see the phone book sitting on Farhad's dashboard, withthe address circled in black texta? Can we not be left to make someleaps in logic for ourselves?

I also had a major problem with the dialogue which was so 'on the nose'. I have heard one critic say that the quality of dialogue is deceptively high, because even though people may not speak this way, they certainly do think this way. That is irrelevant. It is the job of a script like this to utilise dialogue in a way that helps add to the characterisations and believability of the (in this case highly implausible) situations that are set up. These characters all speak using the same voice and all they ever talk about is racism.

Surely the purpose of a film like this should be to promote the fact that race should not really be an issue in these situations, but by making it the sole focus of every scene, doesn't it become innately racist itself? Characters walk around spouting their philosophies and conveniently memorised statistics on race relations as though they're regurgitating extracts from the research essay they've just written. It's utterly unconvincing and obvious.

A film should reveal its meaning gradually, not slap us in the face with it in the opening scenes and then never let up. I can see that Haggis' intentions with this film were honorable, but dare I suggest that by directing his own script he has not been able to identify and, therefore, overcome its flaws. I really hope that writer/directors will be really careful in future when approaching this 'mosaic' style of narrative. It has been done well a number of times, but getting the balance between the personal and the political right is very difficult. And Robert Altman will not be outdone in that department.
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Lacks any sophistication
dl1006 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
What a disappointment. The story line is so simple - "the good guys sometimes do bad things and the bad guys sometimes do good things" - dressed up into a racial setting to make it seem clever, sophisticated and meaningful. It isn't. It lacks any subtlety.

Everything that happens is telegraphed and then gone over again in case you missed the explanation.

For a film like this to convince and move the audience it has to be represent the ambiguity of the characters and their motivation and actions; not simply present it as a series of 180 degree changes in each character's actions.

Half way through I really wanted to waste no more time on it, but I thought I would stick with it in case it improved; big mistake I should have stopped then - it simply got worse.
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...And Burn
cofemug27 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I wrote this as a two part review. Part two has spoilers.

Part 1:

No, this isn't that one about the sex with car accidents. This is the one about racism in L.A. You know, the one where everybody is a racist, and race is the topic on everybody's mind at all times. Race.

Its like the movie has a form of turrets syndrome where race is the constant theme. Race. Racist. Racism. Race Relations. Relay race.

Paul Haggis made a movie which took the structure of Magnolia, which was used to show the disconnect of people who are tangentially connected, and then screwed it into a 1'53" mental vomit about racism in America. RACE. In the 24 hour period we have 7 stories running parallel all connected and about race. The first hour, people say ridiculous stuff and do absurd things in an effort to be real about racism in America.

For example, the story with Ludicrous and Larenz Tate provides the comic relief. Too bad, the first half of their story is lifted straight from The Bonnie Situation in Pulp Fiction. RACISM. Their section is the Quentin Tarantino section where, instead of being cool and talking about foot massages and religion, the characters talk about race and racism. CONSTANTLY.

The other good thing about it is the Mexican story when the Mexican guy is talking to his daughter. He gives her his invisible impenetrable cloak to protect her from bullets. Decent writing, but that's only because the writers have had daughters and know what they would say in his place.

The rest of the stories are extremely ludicrous. The Hindi does not act in any semblance of realism. The scene where he's trying to get the lock fixed and the Mexican tells him he needs a new door is abbreviated and stupid. Why would anybody act like that? Is it realistic? NOOO. It reminds me more of the convenience store clerk from The Doom Generation. "Six Dollar Sixty Six Cents girly." If i ever watch the second half of the movie, I hope his head is shot off and his bodiless head starts coughing up relish.

I haven't mentioned race in over a paragraph. RACE. RACISM. RACE FOR THE SUN. Better. Then, there is the black guy who wants to be white, Matt Dillon who has a chip on his shoulder against blacks, Ryan Phillippe who looks beautiful and does nothing, and various other bad actors acting badly with bad dialog. When Matt Dillon molests the black producers wife, could I help it if I was cracking up? When Philippe is second guessing his writing up of his partner for racism, can I help but crack up? The movie is so funny when it is being racist. Racist. RACIST I tell you.

Now, mind you, this movie was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing, besides a nod to Matt Dillon who actually did attempt to do a decent job. Who was paid off for that one, I have no clue.

Don't see it unless you feel like being preached at about the racism in society through a bad and unrealistic script from 2 white men over fifty who have no semblance of reality or interaction with real society in any way shape or form.


Part 2:

The second half of Crash takes any and all story lines in the first half...and spews them back out in a sort of redemptive, conclusionary, the world is a big coincidence kind of way. And it is in fact one of the worst ways to do it.

Take 1999's Magnolia. People weren't conveniently tied together over and over again. They were just connected in a strange way that happens more often than you think. You know somebody who knows somebody who did something that you knew somebody else was also involved in. Crash takes this wrapping into a serious extreme.

The stories are lined up so everybody meets again. Are there only 5 on the LAPD force? Aren't these people working weird shifts? Dillon and Philippe were a late shift then an early one the next day? And, why did Tate have to be the murdered hitchhiker? Wouldn't it have had more emotional tension, as well as realism, if it had been somebody we had not been following all day long? Like Phillippe just picks up a random hitchhiker and then freaks out. Everybody'd be freaking out.

Eventually, in the second half, the touching invisible cloak scene is used to get the Hindi to shoot the daughter. It ticked me off and made me feel dirty. Not that the Hindi shot the daughter, but that they created a beautiful touching scene and then had it be the direct cause of people tearing up. It really ticked me off. At the writers, not the scene.

The whole movie is fake and totally uncalled for. The coincidences are far too many and they require an extreme suspension of disbelief. Unlike Magnolia which was connected mildly, this had connections upon connections upon connections which were just so over-the-top. The only good part in the second half was when Sandra Bullock falls down the stairs. She doesn't die though. She should have. I cheered when she fell.

The worst part about the movie is it pulls a Magnolia. Not just in structure, but it has a montage over the song In the Deep where you see everybody being depressed. Magnolia took this and had post-modern commentary on it by having all of the characters singing along to Aimee Mann's Wise Up. Unfortunately, Magnolia came out in 1999, while Crash came out in 2005. Its hard to make commentary on a movie which won't be made for another 6 years, but it happened. Somehow.

Utter waste of my time.

First half: D-; Second half: lowest grade ever; Overall: F---
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sweeneyle-internet23 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I agree with what so many others have said about the shallow and offensive nature of this film's examination of racism. It is baffling to me that so many people seem to have been fooled by its pretentiousness. I want to comment on the Matt Dillon character as an example of what's most infuriating about this movie. Here we have a man who -- contrasted with the film's underlying message that "we're all a LITTLE racist" -- effectively rapes a woman in public, cruelly humiliating her husband and deliberately goading him to make a move that, as he well knows, will lead to his arrest or even death. He does all this after pulling the couple over without any legal cause but because, as we come to understand, they are black and wealthy and he is a hurt little boy who is now the police and can therefore do as he pleases. This behavior is not a LITTLE racist. This behavior is evil. It is disturbing to me that this extreme of racism is held up next to another character's behavior -- spouting her paranoid stereotypes about gang violence -- to illustrate that everybody's a LITTLE racist. Later, we're spoon-fed some tripe about Dillon's poor old dad and how black folks drove him into the poor house. Is this supposed to explain, or worse, excuse this behavior? And is Dillon's character meant to redeem himself by committing the utterly unmotivated and unbelievable, laughably coincidental act of saving the woman he sexually assaulted the very night before? Please. The fact that so many people seem to feel some kind of self-congratulatory admiration for this film makes me feel sad about the shallowness of our understanding of racism, and our apparent lack of commitment to condemning and ending it.
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The Worst Best Picture
mdmc-112 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away (Sigourney Weaver in Aliens (1986))?" Or have I crossed over into some alternative "Twilight Zone" universe where ugly is beautiful and bad is good? On March 5, 2006, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did something so inexplicable that my head is still spinning. The Academy voted one of the worst films ever made, "Best Picture." You heard me right, "Crash" is one of the worst films ever made. No, "Crash" isn't bad in the way of "Plan Nine from Outer Space." "Crash" is bad because it thinks it is so good and that its message is so important that it bears repeating over and over and over again until everyone gets it. But what is the message of "Crash?" There seems to be some confusion about this aspect of the film which I will clear up for you. In its simplest form, the message of "Crash" is, people can be categorized into racial stereotypes and it is understandable that we are prejudiced towards them. For example, the film shows us that all young black men are carjackers and criminals and it is perfectly justified for white women to fear them. All Asians, but especially Asian women, are bad drivers and talk funny. Another example is that all white cops are prejudiced against blacks. Even white cops that appear to be good on the outside are all racists. When the least bit frustrated white cops will molest black women instead of kicking the dog, and white cops will shoot young black men in the blink of an eye for simply reaching in their pocket. Rich, white women all hate Hispanics and treat their Hispanic maids like dirt. Black women are all drug addicts on welfare or have funny names. Okay, maybe that's only one of the messages of the film. I guess another message of "Crash" is that everyone is prejudiced towards some race and that includes the writer, director, and producer. Well, to be fair, the writers (Haggis and Moresco, director (Haggis), and the many producers are just prejudiced toward blacks, Asians, and Persians; they have no problem with Hispanics. Hispanics are the only good people in the film and have no prejudices. Oh, I forgot! Hispanics are prejudiced against bad driving, funny talking Asian women. Another "Crash" message is that, if you're having a bad day, if you're father is having health problems, of course you're going to be a racist. After all, isn't everyone? I know you're confused now because you and so many others were tricked by the film into believing that it was against racism. Don't feel bad because the writers and director of "Crash" use every trick in the book to manipulate you into thinking that, because they had some noble cause for making the film it is appropriate to use racial stereotypes. After all, the Academy had no problem with it so why should you.

Okay, so the message of "Crash" is that racial stereotypes exist and everyone is prejudiced is kind of disgusting, but does that in itself make it one of the worst films? No, there are countless other flaws with the screenplay that make this film one of the worst. The only positive thing I can say about the script is that it is going to be a great teaching tool to show students what not to do when writing a screenplay. For example, in the very first scene of the film, Don Cheadle and his partner, Jennifer Esposito, get into a minor car accident. Cheadle then says the following, "It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something." Can anyone explain to me why the Academy awarded this "Best Original Screenplay?" It's like it was written by some pretentious high school student trying to show off to the teacher.

Besides the clunky, pretentious dialog, the screenwriters overuse irony to a degree I can't remember seeing in any other film. It's like they are going to hit us over the head with irony until we just know what great writers they are. After this film, Congress should pass a law limiting impossible ironic coincidences and ironic twists to no more than two per film. Hefty fines should be levied for each one over the limit. By my count, there are a minimum of 15 ironic coincidences or twists in "Crash." How many can you come up with? Maybe this could be a fun party game like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

I want to give one more specific example of the many problems with screenplay, but I'm hard pressed to talk about just one. Maybe it should be the carjackers, or maybe the invisible cloak or the second car crash. I just can't decide. Well, I'll just end with snow. On at least a few occasions, different characters in the film mention that the weather calls for possibility of snow in Los Angeles (the last time it snowed in LA was 1962). At the end of the film, white flakes fall from the sky, but they are the ashes from a burning car which was the site of a racially motivated murder. I'm not sure what the screenwriters had in mind with this scene, but I'm sure it was another heavy-handed allusion to something very deep. Maybe it was the ashes of racial hatred raining down on the city? And again, the Academy voted this Best Picture.
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Amazingly Awful!
rayzrsharp-llc17 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers

One of the worst films I've seen since last years "The Village." An insult to anyone of any intelligence at all. Poorly written and astonishingly contrived. Nobody, especially in Los Angeles talks the way these characters do. No subtly at all. If the point of this film is to say that "we all have a little bit of bigotry in us" he does a horrible job of stating the obvious. Not only was his point clearly base, but every character in this film was AMAZINGLY STUPID. The car jacking scene almost made me walk out, along with the rescue and oh lets not forget the WHITE off DUTY Rookie COP picking up a hitchhiking black thug and... I could go on and on. Awful, just awful.
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Bold and Compelling Treatise on Racism in Modern Society
WriterDave7 May 2005
Take the pop-cultured infused socio-political discourse of a Spike Lee movie, the glossy grit of a Michael Mann LA crime story, and the compelling mosaic story-telling technique of a Paul Thomas Anderson film, and you'll get the "feel" for Paul Haggis' stunning directorial debut. To boil a film like "Crash" down to such terms, however, would do it severe injustice. Powerful and thought provoking, this is the most accomplished and compelling film since "21 Grams" premiered back at the end of 2003.

"Crash" brilliantly shows through intertwining vignettes, that are often blazingly funny in their brutal honesty and fascinatingly gut-wrenching in their melodrama, how subtle racism (often guised in nervous humor) and overt prejudice (often exasperated by sudden irrational violence and an overabundance of readily available firearms) completely permeate our culture and everyday interactions within society. A hyper intelligent script showcases not characters, but brilliant representations of real people, people we know and pass in the street every day, people not unlike us. People who at first seem to be lost causes in the war against racism (witnessed in Matt Dillon's harried beat cop and Sandra Bulluck's spoiled District Attorney's wife) can often become the most unlikely solutions to the problem, while people who ride in on their high horse (witnessed in Ryan Phillipe's noble young police officer) can turn against the tide in the blink of an eye. No one is immune to it no matter how hard they try to rise above it (witnessed in Don Cheadle's quietly tragic detective).

In the end, everyone is flawed, the racism is inescapable, and the audience feels a twinge of sympathy for just about everyone. Perhaps that is what Haggis is hinting at to be our answer. Showing empathy and being able to relate even on the most remote level to every human being out there is the first step to that true brotherhood of man. Because the film offers no real solution, the discussion and discourse it creates in the minds of the viewers is the first step in solving society's ills. We can't tackle everything at once, but we can open a dialogue, and hopefully, one person conversing with another will be the first step to our salvation. It takes a bold film to raise such questions, and an even greater one to compel an audience to talk about the potential answers, and that is exactly what "Crash" accomplishes.
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Crash is a non-LA persons view of LA.
roninred2 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I've lived in LA for 13 years of my young adult life, on the Westside and also in depressed neighborhoods near downtown (Echo Park, home of the Rampart Division scandal and previously the precinct with the highest murder rate in the US) and I have to say that this is not the LA that I know. In watching the film it looks like some non-Californian's, non-LA person's perspective on race relations in LA. The characters are exaggerations, the overwhelming focus on black/white relations obscures the multi-racial fabric of the LA landscape, and the Asian characters (eg. one is smuggling Chinese illegal aliens, and another is screaming racial epithets) are the worst kind of stereotyping. The only portrayal in the film that is accurate is of the corrupt cops, which as anyone who lived through the Rodney King years 1992 will tell you are all too real. But then the film turned around and offered redemption for that bastard cop by allowing him to rescue the same woman he molested/raped? What kind of crap is this! That's not even counting the stylistic choices made in the film to try to make LA look like Chicago and New York, with people wearing scarves and such and having it snow in the city (as if that would ever happen!). People in LA rarely ever wear scarves, because it is rarely that cold, and the way they made the characters do this shows that this film is made about other cities in the US, and only used LA as the background because of the controversial nature of the 1992 riots.

I would have to say that based on my experiences in LA I have seldom seen people engage in outright racial slurs, because they know they will get beat down pretty quickly. Additionally, for Angelenos who have grown up in local multiracial high schools, the mere fact that people grow up living next to and learning with people of many different types encourages greater understanding of difference. If there are racial issues at certain local high schools, they are more often caused by gang conflict over turf issues than by internal prejudice. Maybe the racial dynamics mentioned in the film hold for people in other cities, but they're not walking the same streets, riding the same buses, and talking to the same people in the community as I have. In fact, I would argue that the biggest problems are caused by all the starry eyed hillbillies that move to LA from places outside of California and bring their prejudices with them. This movie is terrible, and the fact that people have made a big fuss about it is evidence of how out of touch people are with LA.
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how is this a top rated film????
Nardicles11 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
i am amazed anyone likes this film. i never walk out of movies, but my friend had to physically stop me from leaving the theater during this insulting disaster. the white characters are saints and the Asian characters are practically nonexistent and worthless to the story. they exist only as objects, surprise. characters of other races fare much better. the twists and turns were laughable and predictable. but if you're reading this, you know that already. Paul Haggis is a hack. Hollywood can't even do multicultural movies right. do yourself a favor and watch a much more honest take on race relations, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle!
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A tale told by an idiot.
monolith942 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The film's tagline is "You think you know who you are. You have no idea." I reject both the suggested idea that I have no idea who I am and the inferred suggestion that this film tells me who people truly are. If people in real life are really like this, then man, we're screwed.

A bilious film that I walked into late and left prematurely. A film which is so wrapped up in its goal of becoming The Race Film of All Time that it loses sight of the very tools a film must use.

The rules of Hollywood are such: if you show something in the first half, it must be used in the second half. Thus the gun that the daughter worries about her father buying will somehow find its way into the story in the second half. The rules of Hollywood are to make dialog 'real' - a concept which changes with every decade. Is this 'real dialog' somehow less ludicrous than the 'real dialog' of Kevin Smith ten years ago? The rules of Hollywood state that we set the scene, and as action rises, the camera moves in closer to the faces - in this film primarily so we can see the supposed shame, humiliation and transcendental realism of the characters. The strings increase, the frame-rate slows down, and our heart is meant to break.

This film is as crassly manipulative as it is vapid. I have my own prejudices against L.A., which I freely admit, so to combat this prejudice I will not say that this is a natural situation stemming from the location, but rather probably from the author and director. The writer, Paul Haggis, already showed a taste for polemics over humanity in his Million Dollar Baby, which at least had a director who understood how to make the vision of the film bring out the best of a script's ideas. Now that Paul Haggis has his own hands on the camera it becomes obvious that not only does he not know how to write true, natural human drama, he does not know how to photograph or direct it as well. Paul Haggis comes from the land of TV, let us not forget: the land of diminished expectations.

Everything is as obvious as a TV-movie, simply presented for simple minds - Haggis drills into us, over and over again, that while on the surface people may seem to be awful, they have secret pains hidden. This is a nice idea, but so hamfistedly presented that the whole juxtaposition of bad/good has an amateurish feel. Structurally the film is broken up, in the tradition of Magnolia and other earlier films. The editing is as typical and conventionally "cinematic" as could be - if there is a dramatic movement, such as a door opening or a car driving past between the subject and camera, the editors use that extreme movement to give the cut that occurs there a more kinetic quality. The problem is that other than the drive to keep things moving, there is very little intelligence and thought behind the cuts - everything is kept by the books. Not only are the puppets of this hideous racial punch and judy show ineptly handled, but even the curtains are lowered and raised with incompetence.

The film tries desperately to present reality, but there's just no talent whatsoever. Some of the actors are good, some of the actors are bad, and all of the performance get muddied together, brought down by the low, low aesthetics of the film. We have cinematography which is technically clear: we can see the scene, we have a clear understanding of what is happening. However, not only is the cinematography unremarkable, but it is thoughtless camera-work and framing which believes that it actually is inspired. The result is little stylistic flourishes which one recognizes but do not actually add anything to the drama or pathos. For example - and this is a spoiler - as a father holds his dying child (the father might be shot too, I didn't stick around to find out) the camera sees his face and gives us the famous Vertigo track/zoom. The Vertigo shot!!! It was at this point that the film became hysterical and I just had to leave. I had to leave because it was so bad. I left because I was in the middle of a crowded theater, and I wanted to express to the audience that I was sick of emptyheaded Hollywood 'art' which is full of sound and fury, yet signifying nothing (in the Bard's own words). I hate to waste such good Shakespearian references on something this remarkably bad.
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csmithjr13 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I can not believe the positive reaction to this movie. I had great expectations for it and was disappointed. First of all, they used every cheesy racism cliché in the book. It was so predictable. For instance, from the second the young Latino guy showed up you just knew that he would be a really nice guy because he looked like a gangbanger. Matt Dillon's character has been played a million times, a cop who had been hardened over the years and would see the light to some degree by the end of the movie. The predictability hardly ended with those characters. A phenomenal cast was wasted on a weak script. The morals of the story were PC to the max. There were a few clever twists but not nearly enough. The dialouge was embarrassing at times. It wasn't all bad.I just can't believe this movies high score so far. It was somewhat entertaining, just a little insulting to ones intelligence. I admire what this movie was trying to achieve but it fell well short.
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Crash: Drama for dummies
Flagrant-Baronessa20 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a good movie if you are the type of person who needs everything spelled out for you, be taught moral lessons and have political statements preached to you. Obnoxiously slapping the audience in the face with its self-righteousness in every scene, Crash manages to be become the only film to which I have 'awarded' the lowest score to on IMDb: 2/10. I can't even believe how terrible this film is. I don't even know what the 2 is for because no redeeming aspects come to mind as I write this.

The content is racism, if that wasn't clear enough. The events in the film are all shadowed by racial prejudice. The characters are all of different races. All people ever talk about in the film is racism. They do not talk about it casually as a means to make the dialog believable or accessible but whatever is said are readily-made, perfectly-crafted speeches on racist issues that sound like they've been taken from an opinion column in a political magazine.

So Crash drills these things into your head at all times, thereby cheapening its message -- which is, essentially, that racism is bad and that we stereotype based on race (0/10 for originality!). Ironically, what is most disturbing about the film is not the racial stereotypes that are present, but that American audiences NEED to be told these things and need such obvious morals to be spelled out for them and need a guy like Haggis shaking their finger at them telling you that is bad behaviour. This fills me with concern for the intelligence of the average movie-goer. After all, how can you applaud a film that states the obvious?

The icing of the cake of a dreadful film for me was the scene in which the little cutesy Latina girl is 'shot', trying to protect her father (Hispanic guy whose name I cannot recall as the only thing that is put forward in Crash is a person's race). As she jumps in front of her father to take the bullet for him there is THE cheesiest most "sorrowful" score imaginable playing loudly and the American flag blowing in the wind in the background of the shot. This scene is one of the worst, cheapest in film history. Who can honestly sit and watch that with a straight face?

I can only assume that the big budget of Crash was spent on late night taco-runs as nothing of substance is presented to us. Offensively poor writing, contrived performances, endless clichés make this simply an unwatchable film. To call it manipulative is giving it too much credit as that implies the clever disguise of intentions and messages and Crash does not even try to disguise anything -- it just preaches.

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Nearly complete failure
leeloo6725 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I just watched Crash. This movie was way over the top and let me know almost right away it was not deserving of best picture. I was engladdened at first because it seemed like it might be another Magnolia type movie, but in the end the only comparison to Magnolia was the neat hippie music and the lack of resolution in many (try every one) of the story lines. Racism was a central theme, but as it pertained to this story it was a seemingly desultory, random element that was artificially injected at random points. The racism was extremely unnatural and forced and out of place in many instances. The result was that the movie came across not as being edgy and truthful like people are pretending this movie is, but rather ignorant and contrived at best. For example, the crack by Cheadle about "all those cultures getting together and deciding to park their cars on their lawns" was from left field and artificially inflammatory coming from a character who previously and thereafter gave us no racist indicators at all. There were no clues up to that point or after that he was racist or capable of such a statement (it was out of place in the conversation too), and the line had no place in his character or in the movie. And no, saying "everyone is racist and that's why he said it" is not true and not acceptable. The line was out of character, out of place, and therefore without taste. Some of the stories were good, but only up until race was artificially inseminated all over the screen. Additionally the whole movie was highly predictable. The scenes with the shopkeeper, the gun, the dead kid at the beginning of the movie, etc. - all predicted easily by me (and if I can predict events in a movie that is not a good thing at all). The clincher though that was the bizarre late night country music "I feel like picking up a random black youth in an apparent act of kindness and then ignorantly and confrontationally stereotyping him to his face even though it is out of my character and it was in fact my partner who was the racist one, not me" scene with Ryan Pillippie's character (who also presented no pre or post incident racist tendencies). What the heck was that? That should have been a deleted scene. On top of all this, the movie needed another 30 minutes at least to at least bring one or two more stories to conclusion. The Phillippe thing and the Cheadle Latino crack really bothered me the most though. I mean, I could buy the Sandra Bullock snooty rich white lady thing, but the rest was way too much. I think the fact that someone wrote a movie that says all people are racist says quite a lot about the writers and all the people involved, but says nothing about society as the movie had no realism whatsoever. The movie was almost complete in it's failure, but for Hollywood to admit that would mean so much more than just pretending it makes some kind of awe-inspiring statement about race. I hate to tell them and all of Hollywood that hailed this movie, but this has already been done and with more success (although still flawed) in the movie Grand Canyon. It is a far superior movie with race as the central theme. It was challenging and in your face and honest in the way Crash wishes it was, but with an inferior cast and far far less hype. If Hollywood really wanted to embrace racism being pushed to the forefront and being examined, then Bamboozled would have won best picture the year it came out (or at least been nominated).
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An Utter Disappointment
jsg03jd2 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Devoid of any subtlety whatsoever, CRASH purports to portray the state of race relations in Los Angeles. Well, if CRASH were indeed accurate with respect to its depiction of race relations in Los Angeles, with which the Academy voters seem to agree, then I sure am glad I live in New York City.

Extremely didactic and bombastic, CRASH has reduced racial politics into diluted, mind numbing stereotypes and extremely broadly written characters that are nothing more than caricatures. CRASH takes the easy way out, does not, and indeed cannot, with its large number of players on its canvas, delve into character complexities or at least try to mimic, if not actually depict, the way real people deal with racism. Among its embarrassment of extremely unrealistic scenes (and the film is replete with them), a rich, well-mannered white woman (of the noblesse oblige variety) hurled insults at a Latino locksmith who is changing the lock of her front door and, within his earshot, accused him of planning to sell the key as soon as he gets the opportunity to do so. What instead would have been realistic was for this character to express her concerns to her white husband a couple of rooms away in their large luxury home with no one else in the room.

Such white woman is somehow redeemable from this faux pas with the Latino locksmith because cheap redemptions abound in this movie: this rich white woman later slips down the stairs and, lo and behold, the only one who tended to her injuries was her Latina maid. And just like that, the rich white woman declared that her Latina maid, whose services were paid for by her and her husband, was her "best friend." Presto! Her earlier treatment of the locksmith is forgiven.

The film also places up front and center a white racist cop who also happens to be his father's caretaker. He treats black people like 3rd class citizens, but Paul Haggis would almost make it seem that this character's racist attitudes were balanced out by his having to care for his father. I would further argue that Haggis posits that racism is excusable when one has other personal concerns in his or her life, and that is simply indefensible. Racism cannot be excused by one's family duties, no matter how overwhelming they may be. And, as with the white woman mentioned above, a cheap redemption also awaits this white racist cop. A black woman he earlier molests in front of her black husband is caught in a car about to explode. And who comes to this woman's rescue, well it's none other than this racist-molesting cop! And at the end of this sequence, we are supposed to feel sympathy for this cop, when arguably it is a combination of his duty as a cop as well as his instinct of self-preservation (after all he was in the car that was about to explode with the black woman he earlier molested) that truly motivated his "heroic" efforts.

Racism is not reducible to mere black and white. Racist cops are nothing novel: just recall the Rodney King case, the Abner Louima scandal and the Amadou Diallo news stories. Racism in the real world, or at least the world that is outside the bubble that is Los Angeles, however, festers beneath the surface, is much more subtle and covert. It's when I used to walk around the malls as a teenager and was constantly followed by the security guards and sales staff asking me if I needed assistance, while white kids roamed about the store free from the prying eyes and intrusive conduct of store management. They are comments passed seemingly innocuously by people who tell me that they could never tell between Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos and other Southeast Asians because they all look the same. It's when people assume that no black person who works as a secretary or receptionist could ever speak non-broken English.

And subtleties like these are what CRASH is glaringly missing. In this day and age, if there is one thing we do with respect to this most sensitive of topics, we DO NOT vocalize our misconceptions/beliefs toward certain races and minorities absent heated confrontations or inebriated/altered states, and, more importantly, shout out these beliefs within the presence or earshot of members of the aforementioned groups.

CRASH would have us believe that everyone walks around so wound up and ready to lash out a racial epithet to anyone and everyone whose skin color and/or cultural background happen to be different from yours: be it your girlfriend, someone you got into a car accident with, your hired help, and policemen in the guise of performing their civic and professional duties. And if Haggis really wanted to portray "duality" in that everyone has good and bad within them, then why did he carve out exceptions for Asians, as exemplified by the film's Asian male character and his wife, who the film deemed as the ONLY irredeemable characters in the its throughline? CRASH has dumbed down racism to the point that if someone tells me they feel like they learned something about themselves from viewing the film, I feel nothing but pity for them because they obviously have not experienced racism and they either live in an extremely homogeneous society or not in the real world at all. There is nothing novel about CRASH, and there are no lessons to be learned from it that are not self-evident when one just steps outside one's home.

CRASH fails in every way possible to show accurately racism and the true evil it is. Racism is complicated and for a project this ambitious, CRASH should not have been rewarded with the Best Picture Oscar especially when it failed in all respects--artistically, technically and otherwise--from achieving its, admittedly, lofty goals.
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Overrated in Every Sense of the Word
GOBandSteveHolt29 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
*Very Minor Spoilers, but who cares because YOU DO NOT WANT TO SEE THIS FILM* I purchased this DVD because it had won the Academy Award for best picture. Directly after viewing it, I crushed the DVD into tiny little pieces and disposed of it because the film is absolute garbage. It should be re-named to "Racial Clichés that Have Been Depicted in Films Millions of Times." I felt compelled to come to IMDb and give it a one star rating because there is no way that this movie should be in rated in the top 250.

Let me just say this: RACISM IS NOT A NEW IDEA. People are lauding "Crash" as if it is some sort of god-sent piece of artwork that is going to suddenly open the world's eyes to racial tensions. All this movie does is compile a ton of characters that are lame racial stereotypes whom we've seen millions of times over. Even worse, there are so many characters masquerading as racial stereotypes that the movie completely fails to perform an in-depth examination of ANY OF THEM. Each of the characters gets maybe 10 minutes of screen time and that is it. For example: You get the bigot white cop, you watch him be racist, you see that he has a soft side, he ends up saving a black woman, END OF STORY. I have no idea how this movie won an Academy Award for Best Picture for it is a poorly executed hodgepodge of stereotypes that goes absolutely nowhere.
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a realistic, gritty, no-nonsense look at the way life is for so many....
acclar23 April 2005
After seeing this movie, I was able to really understand what "Six Degrees of Separation" means. There is a thread that weaves its way through the landscape of life connecting, influencing, and defining all. This movie is certainly thought-provoking, one cannot watch it without feeling either privileged to have become part of the fabric, or like a fly on the wall - seeing, yet unable to influence or guide. There is almost a sense of frustration at ones inability to be no more than an observer in this movie since it compels you to want to shout in warning, gasp in shock, cry in sorrow, and hold in comfort. "Crash" is definitely not a movie to use as a venue to escape life for a couple of hours, but it is a movie that certainly makes you take a second and third look at who you are within yourself. The actors are surprising not only for their depth of performance, but also because they do not play characters you think you know. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who likes drama, action, comedic relief, or just an appreciation for a well-thought out movie.
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Take this film seriously? I don't think so!
grinderny25 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Well, my friends, I finally got up the gumption to see "Crash" this week so I could decide for myself. I really did want to believe that it had best picture quality. And putting it succinctly, it was a revelation. And the revelation was how to make a totally unbelievable set of circumstances such that it leaves the audience no opportunity to interpret anything at all. The film started about 7:50 and by 9 I was practically shouting at the screen, "Are we supposed to be taking this seriously?" GIVE ME A BREAK! Then when the scene where the Iranian man fired the gun at the locksmith, I just completely lost it. I told my partner very forcefully, "I'm leaving." He pleaded for me not to, that it was almost over. I repeated, "I'm leaving," and I marched out of the theater, threw my leftover popcorn and soda into the garbage (where I believe the film should be thrown), sat down in the lobby and cried for five minutes with my face in my hands, I was SO upset. How any thinking person could have selected that piece of garbage for a Best Picture Oscar -- completely unbelievable situations, contrived and manipulative dialog, amateurish camera work not even good enough for an SVU episode, and the feeling that I had been repeatedly bashed over the head with hate by means of a sledgehammer? I don't have time for that kind of anti-artistic expression in the remaining years of my life. I might also point out that of the 70 some odd speaking roles in the film, there was not a single gay character portrayed. Talk about unrealistic for the city of Los Angeles! The only thing that could have improved the film would have been a top-flight director and not the writer. Let me compare "Crash" to the 2003 British film "Love Actually," which also has multiple diverse plot lines coming together at the end. LA accomplished its purpose SO much better than did "Crash," but I will be forever calling "Crash" by the name it truly deserves, "Hate Actually." I might add that this was only the 2nd time in my life that I have actually walked out of a movie because I was so upset. I absolutely refuse to be repeatedly hammered and be told constantly what I'm supposed to be feeling. I will not be manipulated. Be forewarned.
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Wacky Comedy about La La Land
the_Poppuns22 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
And I mean to say it's about a fantasy world. I've never been to LA but I can't believe a major metropolis like the one in this movie exists in this universe or even in an evil parallel universe. The reason I describe it as a comedy is that it became that for me. Because very early in the film there are several moments that are so nonsensical that it kept taking me out of the movie. And once you begin to look at this movie sideways the whole thing becomes funny.

The first instance that I'm speaking about involves Brendan Fraser's character. (By the way, there is no way I'm going to use the character names because you don't get to know them enough to ever remember them. At best this movie is a '100 most racially motivated moments' countdown). So Brendan is some kind of politician and he's speaking to his handlers about how to spin something that has happened to him. He makes a suggestion and within the same minute finds that it is a bad suggestion, and tells his underling to 'give himself a raise for that one' as if he wasn't the one who made the suggestion in the first place. No one does that. Bosses blame their workers for all kinds of mistakes that they make but not something that he just said within the same minute. I must have missed the next 3 lines of dialogue because I was thinking about how silly that was.

Later there is a scene with Matt Dillon and Loretta Divine. I've seen bits and pieces of it on TV shows as a promotional clip. In context, it's awful. Matt is being very friendly with her as he's hoping to find a solution with her to his father's medical/insurance problems. And then he suddenly turns on a dime and starts spouting his issues with Affirmative Action. I'm not even sure if he took a breath. Nobody does that. Ever.

Ludicrous and Larenz Tate. First off Larenz Tate is one of the better journeyman actors in this movie and the fact that he had to take a role where he basically plays sounding board meant solely to respond to Ludicrous, who up until now has been a rap artist, and to eventually be a bull's-eye, makes me sad. After being in the business for as long as he has he should have the Ludicrous role. But he didn't have the instant fanbase that Ludicrous has, I guess. So anyway, the "China-man" under the car. What was that? "China-man" sounds like a superhero who saves expensive dishware. That scene played as though it was meant to be comedic. Scary.

It all ended for me with the scene involving Don Cheadle and William Fichtner. Fichtner begins and ends a conversation with Don Cheadle with the question "--expletive-- black people, huh?" Yes, that expletive. And from there on in, I couldn't stop laughing. No one talks like that. Ever. I don't know how he got it out. He knows he'd never say that to a black person. And he knows he's never met anyone who would do that. And between the bookend questions he used the word "black" about 89 times. Ridiculous. One day in the future Don Cheadle is going to sit down and watch this movie and see how racist it really is. Not that it's showing us racist people, that it is racist.

So then wackiness ensues as Terrence Howard winds up in a car chase and does probably the stupidest thing any character in any movie has ever done, when he gets out of the car packing a gun and screaming insanities at a cop who is trying to stop him from getting shot. None of that makes any sense either but the moment when I fell out of my chair involves a Persian guy who hates buying doors and a little girl with a magic cloak. Remember in Pulp Fiction when God changed Coke to Pepsi? Well He's up to His Old Tricks again. Which I guess was an attempt to make the most predictable shooting in movie history unpredictable at the last minute. Awful.

The piece de resistance. When that women started running into the hospital screaming "Choi Jin Gui! Choi Jin Gui!" I thought to myself "oh please let 'China-man' be her husband, Larenz Tate being Don Cheadle's baby brother wasn't poetic enough" Wouldn't you know it? The gods of cinema fulfilled my request. *tear* And the best part? Her name was Kim Lee. KIM LEE. Amazing.

This movie was bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. I did my best to give it a fair shake, but it wouldn't let me. It was unrealistic, the dialogue was atrocious, and a lot of the acting was sub par. And the final scenes were blatantly mooning the makers of Magnolia. Saying "Look, we made a really bad version of your movie and we're going to prove how unoriginal we are by doing our own sad version of the "Wise Up" scene but to play off that we're not, our actors won't sing. :P And the best part is we attached racism to it, so it'll get all kinds of praise it doesn't deserve."

As I said before at the very best it's a wacky comedy, at the very worst it's Best Picture as deemed by AMPAS. I don't know what they were thinking, if they were thinking. All I can do is laugh about the whole thing. But I do recommend that everyone see it, just to have their own opinion of it. I would never expect anyone to believe a review this one-sided, so please see it for yourself. But I promise you, these were my honest thoughts while watching this movie.
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Hollywood preacheth and the sermon is deranged.
fedor813 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was literally crying "gimme some Oscars!". Hence, alternative titles could be "Gimme Some Oscars For Our Blatant Unashamed In-Your-Face Preachy Political Correctness And Overblown Sentimentality", or maybe even better: "2 Days Of Absurd Coincidences In The Valley".

Phillipe, Danza, Bullock, Fraser. Wow! What a cast! Bullock has never been in a good movie so this fact alone spells trouble.

Alone that scene with Dillon "molesting" the black director's wife guaranteed this silly movie an Oscar for Best Picture. By the way, that black couple DID engage in reckless driving because the woman gave him a blow-job while he was driving, so the LEAST Dillon could have done is annoy the slut a with a bit of cop-a-feel (no pun intended). Regardless of race, this should be done to ANY slut who gives a guy fellatio while driving. The fact that Dillon happens to be a racist – as ALL cops seem to be in Hollywood movies – changes nothing.

Talk about a coincidence plot-device of the DECADE, when Dillon saves the same black woman THE NEXT DAY (no, not a month later, THE NEXT DAY). And as if one such plot-device wasn't enough, we get ANOTHER coincidence not much later, when the black director – yes, the woman's husband – has an encounter with the OTHER cop from the night before, Phillipe. Phillipe is the "good white cop". And it is in this scene that we have the dumbest moment in the movie: the director goes berserk when the two car-thief blacks attack him – and then PREACHES to the taller one about being "an embarrassment" to him (i.e. the black race) and LETS HIM GO, but not before HANDING HIM HIS GUN BACK!!!!!!! Those two car-thieves. What ridiculous characterization! The way they suddenly assault Fraser/Bullock is something out of a ZAZ comedy. It's as if this scene got accidentally edited into the wrong movie. The two lack credibility. They philosophize like Travolta and Jackson in "Pulp Fiction" - except that this is supposed to be a "deep" drama, so it comes off all wrong. First the taller one is paranoid about racism, the shorter one making fun of that, and then – inexplicably – they SWITCH PERSONALITIES: the shorter one defends rap music and makes fun of country being racist, while the taller one criticizes hip-hop for being primitive. Ludicrous? Yes: ludicrous. Aside from that, how many young black criminals who look like hip-hop actually CRITICIZE hip-hop?? This is silly and unrealistic. I half-enjoyed what was said about the rap "culture", but it came out of the WRONG CHARACTER's mouth. Or is it supposed to be funny and ironic that Ludicrous is saying it? Ha-ha. Hilarious...

We have plenty of other nonsense/coincidences that just keep piling up. The way the Persian store-keeper shoots/misses the locksmith's daughter was straight out of the "Cheap And Overused Plot-Devices Throughout The Ages" handbook. And then we had the U.S. flag waving in the background as the Persian guy looks helplessly into the distance. It's obvious that the director completed the "Cheap Movie-Critic-Pleasing Symbolism 101" movie course. Oh, and Fraser playing a D.A.: not as absurd as Denise Richards playing a scientist, but thereabouts.

Hollywood simply cannot let it go. They HAVE to keep trying and trying to "solve" racism in America. But how can a bunch of uneducated, uninformed hypocrites tell us anything intelligent on this subject? You want a lesson in racism? Watch an episode of "South Park". Or, if you want some hard, sobering facts, check out Richard Lynn's controversial studies on the subject. The fact that he is despised both by bleeding-heart liberals and the extreme Right should be a recommendation in itself.

The positive sides are that the film isn't boring and I enjoyed the "rap is crap" dialog. Also, there is at least a hint that blacks can be just as bigoted as anyone else, which shows that even Hollywood can occasionally wake up and smell the roses. The soundtrack is good – it was just placed in the wrong movie. It evokes scenes from "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy, i.e. doesn't fit with L.A. or racism or any of that.

If you enjoyed other crappy Oscar movies, there is no reason you shouldn't enjoy yet more Oscar-winning nonsense. But do keep in mind: 5,000 MORONS vote for them every year.

If you want to read my "biographies" of Hollywood personalities, or my Hollywood Nepotism List, contact me by e-mail.
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