Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Crashingly good

Hey, Alberto Gonzales is latest to leave amid a cloud of incompetence and/or corruption. Terrific. Talking Points Memo has a lengthy but edifying and amusing Top 10 Gonzales Moments here. A video worth watching.


So, one of my latest little projects is to watch all the movies that have ever won the Oscar for Best picture. I got me an alphabetical list, and am currently up to Gigi. (I skipped Cavalcade, as it's not available on DVD.) Which means, given the number of movies I'd already seen before beginning this cockamamie scheme, I have about fifteen films left to watch. So far, my reaction to the supposedly greatest movies of all time has been fairly muted. A lot of them are mediocre (Cimarron, Braveheart) and some are just plain bad (An American In Paris). The one I've the liked the most, off my recent viewing, was 2004's Crash.

Similar in tone to Robert Altman's Short Cuts and Lawrence Kasdan's Grand Canyon, the film interweaves the lives of several people over two days in L.A., examining how racial stereotypes and tensions can shape our ideas and actions. It's the kind of movie that --- especially in its more melodramatic moments, slow-motion montages set to Enya-esque New Age type music --- could easily come off as mawkishly sentimental, but for some reason it didn't. Intellectually, I was thinking, "this is a bit over the top," but I can't argue with the genuine emotional reaction it wrung out of me. I'm not often drawn into movies immediately, and have a very short attention span, but Crash got my attention early and held it, despite its length.

It's not preachy or polemical, either; some of the bad guys do good things and some of the good ones do rather bad things. This is a movie that approaches the thorny race question in America and portrays it in shades of gray.

Also, one of the minor characters is played by Jennifer Esposito, who is the sexiest woman on earth. But anyway. Terrific film; unlike a lot of the winners in retrospect, Crash deserves the recognition.

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