BlackNLA Movie Reviews
*****THE REEL DEAL: Reviewz from the Street*****
by Edwardo Jackson
BIASES: late 20s black male; frustrated screenwriter who favors action, comedy, and glossy, big budget movies over indie flicks, kiddie flicks, and weepy Merchant Ivory fare
BIASES: Complex, adult drama, with an all-star cast at the beginning
of summer popcorn season? Pre-sold.
"In LA, nobody touches you We miss that touch so much, we crash into each other just so we can feel something." Don't I know it. Sprawling, diverse, hopelessly detached, the Los Angeles I live in bears no resemblance to the glamorous, sunny image it exports to the world through its primary industry. Finally, here is a movie that dares peel back the sterile, celluloid epidermis of the city to reveal a simmering cauldron of emotion that speaks to us all, forcing you to collide with it. With yourself. To "Crash."
isn't just TV directors (Howard) and trophy wives (Newton). Over the
course of some 36 hours, lives of Angelenos pinball off each other
in surprisingly huge and little ways. A black revolutionary carjacker
(Ludacris) and his eclectic partner (Larenz Tate) jack the Navigator
of the cagey District Attorney (Brendan Fraser) and his fiery, ignorant
wife (Sandra Bullock) during an election year. Racist veteran
undiluted Oscar bait hailing from honest, sincere origins (Haggis
got the idea from surviving his real life carjacking), "Crash"
is more than my new movie of the year, but a true cinematic experience.
Heartbreaking in its humanity, this film is a staggeringly well-scripted
kaleidoscope of life where everyone's story is just as
If you can feel that, then the complexity is just beginning. Although a seasoned TV director himself and the Oscar-nominated writer of "Million Dollar Baby," Haggis makes his big screen directorial debut with a startling, visually poetic style that suits his writing like Armani. Girded by a haunting, minimalist score of disconnection by Mark Isham (Miracle), Haggis' frightfully powerful script makes for a hard, strong movie which had my audience on the verge of tears half of the time and snatching our breath away with disarming, gallows race humor the other half.
he had a lot of help. Another stalwart performance by the impeccable
Don Cheadle. Knock-me-over-with-a-whisper surprising and utterly convincing
performance by Chris "Ludacris" Bridges as the faux-deep,
conspiracy theorist carjacker (bathe yourself in the irony during
a scene where his character hectors Tate's about the shallow, slur-infested
state of hip-hop today; priceless!). Dillon, as a raging racist who
feels slighted by his father's emasculation due to affirmative action,
is pitch perfect while his character goes on to savagely emasculate
another. Terrence Howard is incapable of a flat performance, boiling
over with so much raw, tangible pain and helplessness that anyone
(especially this black man) can relate to his naked humanity. The
outstanding performances go on and on not an unbelievable one
in the bunch yet I have a favorite. Michael Pena and Ashlyn
Sanchez flat out steal the movie with their sweet-yet-not-saccharine,
wholly realistic father-daughter relationship. They share an incredibly
touching scene that not only
I have to go back to this incredibly layered, complex, humane script.
There goes that word again humanity. As an African-American,
I could be satisfied, if not outright overjoyed, at having seen more
thoughtful, complicated minority humanity on screen in this one film
than in a year's slate of all studio flicks COMBINED. I could be,
but it's more than just that. This is the type of provocative, incendiary,
independent filmmaking sure to move minds, if not hearts. "Crash"
shows how amazing life and its situations can draw out both the best
and the worst in us; how it can turn cowards into heroes, racists
into saviors, as well as pristine heroes into subliminally racist
cowards - all in the space of a car fire or a
Then, to quote Christopher Williams, "don't wake me I'm dreaming." "Crash" is so good, you feel sympathy for a carjacker. It's a powerful examination of just how human we are once we acknowledge and accept the differences that make us unique are just a veneer over the humanity that binds us together. This movie is so powerful, so real, it plays chicken with your emotions, daring you to blink. Don't.
"You think you know who you are. You have no idea." This movie does. It is us. All of us.
Like what you read? Agree/disagree with The Reel Deal? Think he's talkin' out his...HUSH YO' MOUF! (I'm only talkin' about The Reel Deal!) Email him at ReelReviewz@aol.com!
Edwardo Jackson is the author of the novels EVER AFTER and NEVA HAFTA, (Villard/Random House), a writer for UrbanFilmPremiere.com, and an LA-based screenwriter. Visit his website at www.edwardojackson.com
Â© 2004, Edwardo Jackson