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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…

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Backlash from over-hype?

Perhaps the animosity toward "Crash" demonstrated in the reviews of writers like Foundas is not because the film is more objectionable than "Chaos" et al., but because "Crash" received so much promotion and adoration from critics in general. I found many of my friends who saw the movie had the same reaction I did: while it certainly had its moments, overall the film was drastically overvalued by the critical community.

The film is obvious and clumsily manipulative in the manner of a Made-for-TV movie. The rescue from the burning car was a deeply moving scene, but Haggis couldn't resist ending it with a giant, slow motion Michael Bay-style explosion. The Iranian man is angry with the locksmith in the way only characters in movies are angry, and only then to facilitate the Big Misunderstanding that comes about because he was too busy being inappropriately apoplectic to hear even a single word that was said to him. And really, do even the film's admirers believe the scene where Terrance Howard's latte-sipping yuppie tranforms into an angry black Incredible Hulk?

While I think anyone who believes "Crash" is one of the worst movies of 2005 didn't see many movies last year, I sympathize with the frustration felt by moviegoers looking for intelligent, grown-up films in the wake of the independent film movement of the 90's. More and more, rather than finding the likes of "sex, lies, and videotape," "Do the Right Thing," and "Fargo," we are steered toward movies like "Crash" by inexplicably generous critics.

Jason Bollinger

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