In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_mv5bmje1mzi2mzcxov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnte2mjk4nte_._v1__sx1216_sy640_

Cartel Land

The film provides a fascinating, on-the-ground account of people struggling with situations that range from challenging to horrific.

Thumb_large_nxcfdsanskih09xq74fjnyhw4g0

Stray Dog

"Stray Dog" largely succeeds because Granik's technique complements her subject. Both he and the film are modest in their goals and cherish the value of…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives
Primary_eb20060118letters60118001ar

'Crash': Black, white gray

Hopefully the 'debate' about the quality of Paul Haggis' "Crash" won't rage on. For what it's worth, I thought it was an exceptional film even if, at times, the characters were 'archetypal.' Haggis made obvious attempts to give depth to each character beyond their racism. The characters played by Sandra Bullock and Matt Dillon both exhibit rather vehement racism but each for different reasons. In fact, we are given reasons (or at least excuses) for each character's feelings.

In particular, I felt compelled to comment on the first letter you printed on your website. Jake Wolff wrote: "The movie has no subtlety, no shades of gray. The characters move from people who disgust us to people who we pity from scene to scene. They are not at all real; they are defined completely by their racism and their victimhood. Sure, it makes us say, “It’s bad to treat people that way!” But as we say it, we are not acknowledging the less obvious and much more complicated ways in which we are prejudiced ourselves."

And I wonder if he watched the entire movie except for the parts involving Ryan Phillipe's character. Here is a character who is nothing but grey -- who shows both Matt Dillon and Terrence Howard that he is."Enlightened," that he is conscious of racism and how it can manifest itself in the worst possible ways. And yet, when push comes to shove, he finds that he is no better. You empathize with Phillipe (who, I would argue, did the best work he's ever done in “Crash”) right until the moment he pulls the trigger of his gun.

The point of “Crash,” reduced to its simplest form may be that "We are all racists" but to sum the movie up in the way is to not do justice to Haggis' craft or the point it's making. It's just as bad as saying that “Munich”'s point is "Murder is bad. So what?" -- or that “Citizen Kane” is telling us that "Power corrupts. Whoopee do."

Art asks us to filter itself through the prism of ourselves and so, inevitably, we all read different things into each piece. I can see how someone might see “Crash” as obvious or cliched but I think its execution and its ability to make a large number of people stop and think about how they stereotype others - as we all do every day - put it on a higher level. Its goal is not to eliminate racism but to make people think about it and, in my opinion, it does so admirably.

David Fleischer
Toronto, ON

Popular Blog Posts

Why Can't Sad Be Fat?

A rebuttal to Joni Edelman's piece on "Inside Out."

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Unloved, Part 19: "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"

The July 2015 edition of The Unloved looks at Andrew Dominik's "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert...

Magic Lantern Show: The Sensual Pleasures of "The Third Man"

On the look and sound of "The Third Man."

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus