Two films for thought:
Shattered Glass is surprisingly good. Simple, clean lines; decent acting; timely story; and Peter Sarsgaard simmers better than nearly any other actor out there.
And then there's Crash, which got a lot of rave reviews. I should've known when the DVD cover hailed it as the strongest American film since 'Mystic River'" according to some critic.
I thought 'Mystic River' was so overrated.
And so is Crash.
It's not awful, but it's a bit too pat. It takes a page from Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia, but goes ahead and finishes the book, something Anderson refused to do with his interwoven, yet unfinished set of connections and coincidences. Anderson's piece was far from flawless, but it's 6-degrees stayed separate enough to aid the suspension of belief necessary to carry me through the third act.
Crash, however, wraps it all up with too neat a bow. And the message: America, specifically Los Angeles - oh, that complex, sloth of a city, slouching toward muddy doom - has some race issues to confront.
Thanks, man. I had no idea.
But the film is merciless in its depiction of our lowest common denominator of thought. The knee-jerk, road of least resistance we take when confronted with a crisis involving or against someone we can't recognize. It's hardly a new narrative, but whatever hope this film might offer in the penultimate scene is undone in the closing shot and we are left with what we started with: a city of ignorant, eager-to-condemn f*cks with little regard for fellow citizens.
Los Angeles has its problems. However, compared to many cities, I think we do remarkably well.
But it's not just LA I want to defend from this film - it's film making generally. While Crash features powerful performances (and some disappointingly shallow ones - Brendan Fraser, I expect better from you), the cocktail of racial discord ultimately leaves you shaken, but not stirred.