Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Oscar Feast I - In Defence of Crash...

There seems to be a big fight: Brokeback Mountain vs Crash, and why the former didn't make it a Best Film double in the Oscars (it got the Globe).

I've seen both, and was my usual subjective self when I saw them and when I later analysed my own thoughts on them. I don't know why Brokeback didn't win (I loved it), but I know why CRASH won...

By definition CRASH would be an ensemble fit of characters from all walks of life, more importantly from a lot of race backgrounds (does racial sound RACIAL?), who cross each other in the course of a short span of time and are really, really cross at each other.

I was blown away by the superb editing and the way in which each little story blends into the next one. This is helped by doors opening and closing and banging throughout the film, be it a car door, a store door, or a house door. Locks and doors and cars (and crashes) make up the leitmotif of the film.

At the end of a flurry of activity in the form of car thefts, car crashes and car speedings, all these LA-based characters are rounded off, the wicked are redeemed and the heroic too have tiny faults… The subject of racial tolerance or the lack of it in an urban background depicting the white well-heeled as well as the ghetto-born is of course universally relevant and for all times.

So what’s new? Paul Haggis pushes his subject softly, giving tiny insights into how folks who aren’t categorically racial will take easy recourse to it when life puts them in a tight situation. CRASH points out how ordinary impatience and little intolerances might go a long way in hurting people and changing their lives. I was furious with the cop (Matt Dillon) for feeling up the lady (Thandie Newton). I sympathised with her when, later that night, she is furious with her husband (Terrence Howard) for just standing by and not doing anything. But at the next moment, I felt sorry for the husband too: His meek response is that the cops had guns. Frustrating! But then I saw the cop with his sick father, and how he was spending sleepless nights waking up for his Dad and helplessly trying to offer some comfort. I felt sorry for him too. Next afternoon, the molested lady meets with an accident, her car overturns, and she is saved by the very same cop. This time, he risks his life and extracts her from under the burning vehicle.

Too simple? If you look at it as co-incidental, you lose CRASH. It’s there to give you a message. If you think it tells the story of LA and its people, you miss it again. Little redemptions and big punishments make up the story. But that’s not what CRASH is about. It’s about being patient, about counting till 9 before we blow it, it’s about knowing that the other person might be very similar to you. On a planet where cartoons lead to tragedy, CRASH deserved Uncle Oscar...


Do read Ebert on the fight.

15 Comments:

At 1:14 AM, Blogger Ghetufool said...

hey portnoy,
thanks for the post. i didn't see those movies, but would like to see them after reading it.

 
At 1:14 AM, Blogger Ghetufool said...

hey portnoy,
thanks for the post. i didn't see those movies, but would like to see them after reading it.

 
At 12:57 PM, Blogger eve's lungs said...

Portnoy - thanks for dropping by . Are you suffering from a Roth hangover :)??!! I still read the Chalet School books although I dont see any new publications . You've got a gr8 blog

 
At 4:37 PM, Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

Ghetu: See them.
Also, I'd like to know ur views on Brokeback once you see it. Remember

EL: Thanks. Roth, yes, and a host of others :-)

 
At 4:50 PM, Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Haven't watched a good movie for some time now. Your post inspired me to go see "Crash".

J.A.P.

 
At 9:16 PM, Blogger melon collie said...

Well, i quite liked crash when i first saw it. But when i thought about it a bit, it seemed to me that it was a little contrived. I can see where you are coming from with your last-para-argument, and I do agree with most of it, but I still believe that the film was overtly manipulative, unlike something like say, Amores Perros.

Great cast though, and i thought Matt Dillon was superb, as usual.

 
At 11:35 PM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

Your last line says it all. I think this was a film that needed to be made, and made a slight hue and cry about.

Also, the film has a parable-like structure. If you look at it that way, it's not contrived at all. It starts out to tell a message, which is its clear goal, and it says it well.

 
At 1:19 AM, Blogger Tridib said...

Great post. Yes, I was rooting for Crash at the Oscars. And couldn't help giving Significant Other the I-told-you-so look, when it walked away with Best Editing and Best Original Screenplay. Best Film was always going to be a toss-up between it and Brokeback Mountain. The Academy balanced things with Best Director for Ang Lee, and Best Film for Paul Haggis.

 
At 11:08 AM, Blogger chumkisingh said...

Crash was one great film, no doubt - makes one introspective and stuff - but I was wondering, where did "Constant Gardener" get lost in the race? Because it was not a "hollywood" movie? I found it amazing - in fact, one of the best movies this year. Brokeback Mountain has its own charm - but Constant Gardener is miles ahead. A must must watch.

 
At 1:45 PM, Blogger chumkisingh said...

hi,
sasha here - from shaibal's blogsite. like minds attract - hence here i am. really liked your take on Crash & Broke back Mountain. Couldnt agree more on Crash - though am not so gaga about BrokeBack Mountain. ;o) No, I am not homophobic - but hey, for me, it was just a beautifully shot love story.
Havent had the time to upload my blogsite - so, i ll keep visiting u guys for my views on movies and food and anything else that interests me.
keep blogging.
ciao.

 
At 3:12 PM, Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

Hey Sasha / Chumki

That was AWESOME, wasn’t it. Feeling very good about getting to know you like this. Do keep visiting and enlightening us with your comments :-)

Yes, I agree with you that at the end Brokeback is just another beautifully shot love story. But my entire attempt was to convince people who were unwilling to try it because of the gay factor.
Also, I thought Ang Lee's handling was really very sophisticated and brave

 
At 10:38 AM, Blogger gIftoFwIngs said...

Its a nice movie..but a winner? If u think of the editing in the same line I ll prefer PTA (say, magnolia?) or Inarritu'...but anyway the OSCAR guys liked the idea of superficial racism n so...

 
At 12:02 PM, Blogger kaushik said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12:08 PM, Blogger kaushik said...

I cannot agree more with you on this one. Crash is not only about editing but about a slick narrative. Of how the story was beautifully rounded off. There are no heroes, no villains. Just some human beings who are utterly humans and completely greyed out by the circumstances.

Remmber how Mani Sir (and I hold him in high esteem) couldnt round off Yuva with all its Bollywoodish cliches. It was good movie but still it was kind of splattered. I though Yuva demanded an Aamir like sincerity of not grabbing screenspace. Thats the difference between Yuva and RDB (both some kind of activisit films)

 
At 9:59 PM, Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

Gift: Yes, Oscar guys do seem to love superficial racism. It eases them of a lot of other guilt, maybe

Kaushik: So that's where you've been hiding? Kobey dekhli, Crash?
Couldn't agree more on Aamir and screenspace. Yes, the rounding off and the all-grey bits won it the Uncle, I'd say

 

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