Movies and Television

Ah the indie style art house movie. I say that not knowing who made it, what larger studio released it or anything. And of course, I’m not going to take the time to look it up. But that is the vibe with Crash.

And here is a pretty good, very dark day in the life type movie. Or maybe it’s a weekend here.

It’s not really about a big story progression, action or anything like a developed plot but more of a voyeur’s look at the intersecting lives of a group of Los Angelinos and such. And how much they hate their boring, routine, racism-laden crappy lives.

There are a few stars in this one, Sandra Bullock and Don Cheadle, and a number of lesser ones, Brendan Fraser, Ryan Phillipe and Matt Dillon, (I mean lesser in the sense of big money, box office draws, not necessarily talent) and a whole bunch of other people that you know.

The movie opens on a cold night, sometime around Christmas. Don Cheadle is a police detective, and is going to a crime scene to see a body. It then flashes to some other random character introduction scenes, which I cannot possibly remember in order. But I’ll try to cover them.

  • Two black youths walk out of a coffee shop, with one bitching about the racist waitress.
  • Then you see a wealthy white couple, Bullock and Fraser, walking and chatting about nonsense. And sure enough, the black boys carjack the white couple.
  • There’s a gun shop, owned by a bigoted white man, selling a handgun to a NotARAB Indian or Pakistani gentleman and his better-English-speaking daughter.
  • There’s a working-class Latino locksmith making nice with his daughter.
  • There’s a wealthy black couple in a nice SUV getting frisky in the car, so they are pulled over and harassed by racist, anti-affirmative action cop Dillon, and his nave, uncomfortable looking partner Phillipe.
  • Cheadle’s partner, Jennifer Esposito is off some type of Latina decent, but NotMEXICAN. She and Don are also sleeping together, in a subplot that has little to do with anything except to show that despite the fact that these two are 1) work partners and 2) bed partners, they know very little about each other’s lives and 3) show a little of her breasts.

So that’s the set-up, now for the Crash-ing.

Cheadle has a brother he’s supposed to be looking for and an ungrateful shrew of a mother who’s a drug addict. Dillon has his problems, like a sick dad with a shitty HMO. Bullock is traumatized by her carjack and has all the locks changed, which leads to the Latino locksmith. He’s also called out by the NotARAB gentleman to fix his lock to highlight the communication, not just language, barrier between people.

Dillon and Phillipe split ways. The two carjackers also break up, and one ends up with Terrence Howard, the husband of the wealthy black couple harassed by the cops, who is then helped by the open minded young Phillipe. Dillon ends up helping the wife of said couple. Then there’s a twist of an ending and by twist, I mean the whole least likely suspect therefore the most obvious convention.

All the coincidences are okay, but there are so many plot threads that don’t collide that confuse me.

Fraser is a DA, with a smarmy PR guy who knows no one, and a black aide who doesn’t either. And his wife spends a lot of time with the Latina maid, but her story also does not connect back with anyone else. They worked a way in for the English-speaking NotARAB daughter to interact with Cheadle/Esposito, why not everyone else? Whatever. And really, not enough time is spent with anyone to care about the characters, how they interact with each other, or whether or not they change or grow at all.

In spite of some very funny moments, this is not a happy fun feel good movie by any means. It tries, a little too hard and heavy handed at times, to be an unwavering look at race relations and succeeds for the most part, in stylized Hollywood fashion. It’s the kind of movie that is just such a heavy, little plot drama that I have to see in the theater because I’d get too tired of it on TV or DVD. You know, that kind of movie you have to be in the mood for to enjoy it. Mystic River comes to mind, because I still have not managed to watch it on HBO.

Final Snark: the kind of movie that tries for Oscar bait, but maybe doesn’t quite get there.

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