Sunday, September 18, 2005

Strange Weather in the City of Angels: 539 Words on CRASH

You know how sometimes everyone raves about a movie, and the critics fall over themselves trumpeting it, and yet, for some reason that makes you resist seeing the film (because it will never live up to the hype, you tell yourself)…

… Such was the case with director, Paul Haggis’ Crash. I avoided this one, because I had heard so many good things about (yeah, I’m such a freaking rebel), and I thought I would be disappointed (the same way I was with Sidewayswhat a stinker that one was).

My bad.

Last night I watched the DVD of this film and was so bowled over by it that I actually sat and watched it again this afternoon.

Similar in pacing and construction as P T Anderson’s, Magnolia (a masterpiece in my humble opinion); Crash follows the lives of several Los Angeles inhabitants during a twenty-four hour period sometime near the Christmas holidays. The people we meet are of several racial and ethnic backgrounds and all struggling with some kind of prejudice ( A Persian store-owner denigrates an Hispanic lock-smith, while the shopkeeper is called a “rag head” by his African American and Asian neighbors, A white cop humiliates a black couple he pulls over for a minor traffic infraction, a black detective sets up an innocent white man for murder, a Chinese man seems to hate everyone but meanwhile he is smuggling in Chinese people who will literally work as slaves, a white politician is the victim of a car jacking, but won’t mention that the perpetrators were black because he fears that will effect his upcoming election chance with the city’s African American community…).

The theme of Crash is prejudice and how ugly and dangerous it can be. But more than that, it points out that we all scapegoat each other so that we can avoid taking a look in the mirror to see that the problems we are dealing with are often of our own making.

Another point in Crash is the way that some people are more than just the sum of their fears, that we all have good sides and bad sides to us regardless of how others see us (a racist cop risks his life to save an African American woman, a do-gooder white cop shoots a black hitch hiker in a moment of panic, an African American man who works in the entertainment industry compromises his beliefs for the sake of his job…etc).

In the midst of all of these mishaps is the weather. It has never been colder in L.A. as it is this one particular night, and some one mentions that it might snow … and it does eventually. While I am not sure what the snow represents I am sure it had some kind of double meaning (similar to the rain of frogs in the aforementioned, Magnolia).

After the film was over, I felt that I had witnessed something that was just more than popcorn entertainment; Crash left me asking myself questions about my own fears and pre judgments of others – it made me wonder what kind of sociological dysfunction I may have bought in to (whether I want to admit it or not).

Powerful stuff in my book…

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