Off Topic Messages

Crash - well deserved SAG award

Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:09 pm

Crash won the Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. I saw this film a couple of weeks ago and it's outstanding. Anyone who hasn't seen it yet, it's well worth picking up :)

Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:20 pm

A powerful - albeit flawed - film.

Acting was universally strong - as pictures of this nature merit. For my money, however, the only performer who TRULY delivered on all levels, infusing his character with a greater level of intrigue and humanity, was Don Cheadle.

Worth seeing for all those who haven't.

Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:30 pm

Cryogenic wrote:A powerful - albeit flawed - film.

Acting was universally strong - as pictures of this nature merit. For my money, however, the only performer who TRULY delivered on all levels, infusing his character with a greater level of intrigue and humanity, was Don Cheadle.

Worth seeing for all those who haven't.


What flaws are your referring to?

Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:52 pm

1) The contrived nature of the screenplay. While the characters do come across as human, the emphasis on their racial prejudices is almost always foregrounded. The film feels somewhat artificial and pre-meditated as a result. It is very sobering in its own way, but to achieve its hard-hitting nature, the screenplay is endlessly hung up on characters verbally outlining their racial concerns rather than expressing them more subliminally more of the time. The film makes few concessions to ambiguity or a multi-layered approach - though it is still very effective in its own right.

Take a classic film like "2001". It's an unfair comparison, perhaps, but consider the number of ways that Kubrick's magnum opus can be read. At the most superficial level, it's a study/journey of mankind's progression into outer space, but on deeper levels, it's a philosophical discourse on logic vs reason, it's a religious allegory, it's an examination of man's simultaneous triumph with and asphixiating dependence (literally) on technology, it's a look at the nature of intelligence/consciousness itself and so on...

Crash only wants you to see it as one thing. I don't think it has that "wheels within wheels" dimensionality of the greatest works of fiction. Of course, to a large extent, any work of art is what you make it, but as far as "Crash" is concerned, the racial aspect is so dominant that it feels like one is being bludgeoned on the head with it. Still, as I've said, it's a very effective film on its own terms.

2) Paul Haggis wrote the screenplay to this and "Million Dollar Baby". In both, he commits the same sin - that of a heinously stereotyped race/culture. In MDB, it was the female protagonist's insulting "white trash" caricature family (used to crudely evoke sympathy for Hilary Swank's character); in "Crash", it's the Koreans who are portrayed in a rather tasteless manner for comic effect.

3) The soundtrack is middle-of-the-road at best. It doesn't really accentuate or subvert the film's tone and themes at anywhere near the level of George Lucas' "American Graffiti" or Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas" or Robert DeNiro's "A Bronx Tale".

"Crash" is still a great film and recommended viewing, however.

Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:28 pm

Cryogenic wrote:1) The contrived nature of the screenplay. While the characters do come across as human, the emphasis on their racial prejudices is almost always foregrounded. The film feels somewhat artificial and pre-meditated as a result. It is very sobering in its own way, but to achieve its hard-hitting nature, the screenplay is endlessly hung up on characters verbally outlining their racial concerns rather than expressing them more subliminally more of the time. The film makes few concessions to ambiguity or a multi-layered approach - though it is still very effective in its own right.

Take a classic film like "2001". It's an unfair comparison, perhaps, but consider the number of ways that Kubrick's magnum opus can be read. At the most superficial level, it's a study/journey of mankind's progression into outer space, but on deeper levels, it's a philosophical discourse on logic vs reason, it's a religious allegory, it's an examination of man's simultaneous triumph with and asphixiating dependence (literally) on technology, it's a look at the nature of intelligence/consciousness itself and so on...

Crash only wants you to see it as one thing. I don't think it has that "wheels within wheels" dimensionality of the greatest works of fiction. Of course, to a large extent, any work of art is what you make it, but as far as "Crash" is concerned, the racial aspect is so dominant that it feels like one is being bludgeoned on the head with it. Still, as I've said, it's a very effective film on its own terms.

2) Paul Haggis wrote the screenplay to this and "Million Dollar Baby". In both, he commits the same sin - that of a heinously stereotyped race/culture. In MDB, it was the female protagonist's insulting "white trash" caricature family (used to crudely evoke sympathy for Hilary Swank's character); in "Crash", it's the Koreans who are portrayed in a rather tasteless manner for comic effect.

3) The soundtrack is middle-of-the-road at best. It doesn't really accentuate or subvert the film's tone and themes at anywhere near the level of George Lucas' "American Graffiti" or Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas" or Robert DeNiro's "A Bronx Tale".

"Crash" is still a great film and recommended viewing, however.


I take your points on board, but I think the overt racist utterings are a real strength of the film, because they do ring true. If they didn't, they would surely be a weakness. The film succeeded in illustrating just how ubiquitous racism is and how most people, regardless of their racial background, are guilty of it in some form. The hypocrisy jumped from the screen. I think one of the most effective scenes in that regard was the depiction of the Korean woman, ie after Jennifer Esposito's character takes great exception to Cheadle's racial insensitivity, she thinks nothing of ridiculing the Korean woman for her broken English.

The film was so effective because it was behaviour that we can all recognise either in ourselves or people we know. Yes, a more subliminal and subtle approach could have been taken, but would it have been more realistic or just more artistically satisfying?

Tue Jan 31, 2006 8:18 pm

TJ wrote:I take your points on board, but I think the overt racist utterings are a real strength of the film, because they do ring true. If they didn't, they would surely be a weakness. The film succeeded in illustrating just how ubiquitous racism is and how most people, regardless of their racial background, are guilty of it in some form. The hypocrisy jumped from the screen.


This is an excellent summary of the strengths of the film. Yes, Crash is exceptional in its own way. I was saddened and annoyed to see the DVD release (in the UK, anyway) relegated INSTANTLY to the A-Z (i.e. non-chart) section of all major high street vendors I went and perused. It took me a while just to find a single copy!