Saw the first of the Best Picture nominations last night… Crash.
Really great movie that I’d recommend. Crash features an ensemble cast and looks at how race relations are working (or not working) in LA. The movie presents people of several ethnic groups and presents them, very naturally, in the various stereotypes society holds of them as well as out of them. Every character save two exhibited some sort of racism, from the very obvious to the subtle.
White people are rich and have powerful jobs, black people commit crimes, Middle Easterners are hotheads and gun prone, Asians are wiley and inscrutable, not to mention bad drivers. Hispanics come off the best in the movie, with two characters that are essentially good hearted people of virtue… the locksmith and (of course) the maid.
The twists come out one by one in the movie… this character isn’t as slimy as we thought. This criminal is capable of good deeds. The nice roll over guy actually has some anger in him and so forth. Many of these are handled quite well but other character twists seem a little contrived. I just don’t buy the car jacker’s sudden turn around.
I particularly liked Ryan Phillippe’s character. He’s the new cop who sees his partnter mistreat a black couple on a routine traffic stop. At another incident, he takes the opportunity to stand up and do what’s right. He cognitively treats people equally and makes choices to live this out. When something happens that requires him to act out of instinct rather than thought… he’s forced to realize that he’s not so innocent.
The movie begins and ends with the same scene, which makes sense. The events that unfold have no easy wrap up and there’s no real resolution. It’s just another day in LA.
The Oscar material: watch Crash for the dialogues between (almost any) two characters; this is where the writer is standing on his soapbox and making his observations on race relations.