Monday, September 12, 2005

Phoblog Film Review

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.

4 comments:

Josh said...

If Mystic River cut off the last 10 minutes, it would be a drastically better movie. I honestly was standing up out of my chair and had to be tugged back down as more movie was to be had. I remember thinking if the editor made a drastic mystake (ya like that "y" huh?) and accidentally tried to open and close about 3 more plot lines at the very end of the movie. Mystic River, more like Mystic Quiver (ok, tried too hard).

jbl said...

Check out this story in NYT about March of the Penguins and religious conservatives. Seems kinda ridiculous to me the extents to which people will go to see things that aren't there.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/13/science/13peng.html?8hpib

Josh said...

Nice find. I sat next to my friend a NOAA scientist during the movie and he told me that if you that, yes, the Emperor Penguin does remain monogomous for one year's breeding cycle. However, the next year and every year there after, the penguins find new mates. Doesn't that fact actually supports Darwin, being that the more sleeping around with various partners one does, the more likely you are to promote your seed? Maybe humans should marry and raise one child with one other person until the kid is 15ish and then start all over with another person and a new baby. That goes along with the Christian belief, right?

jbl said...

I don't think it takes a NOAA scientist to know that. I'm pretty sure that fact was mentioned in the movie, because I'm not sure how else I would have known it otherwise.

It seems to me that this is a symptom of devout religiosity. Such people are ready and willing to dismiss (and even ignore) anything that doesn't fit neatly within their parochial beliefs.