Film RE-view: Crash (2004) [SPOILERS!!!] @KermodeMovie #FilmReview #MovieReview

check out my film review and Netflix blog at https://filmmovietvblog.wordpress.com

This RE-view has spoilers

WHY RE-VIEW?

Crash is about racism in America today and the different forms and faces it takes. Institutional, white-on-black, black-on-white, conscious, unconscious bias, rich, poor, and all between: the film was awarded three Oscars for its in-your-face message. It confronted racial tensions in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Various story strands are interwoven in what I can only call a Love Actually ensemble stylee — although the film seems to think itself more Pulp Fiction. Yes, a whiff of self-satisfaction, self-righteousness, and self-congratulation emanate from this flick. And that’s why I gave it 2/5 when it came out. But a friend kept begging me to give it a second look. So finally I did.

THE GOOD

It’s true, there are some great moments. The sweet story of the protective cloak that a father tells his daughter stands out as genuinely touching and believable. The film is well directed and the plot well structured. You can’t fault writer-director Paul Haggis for his mastery over the craft. And despite the large cast, there is good character development, and the film is well paced and zips along nicely. Despite this, some characters are completely extraneous and should have been cut. Particularly, the roles played by Sandra Bullock and her on-screen husband.

THE BAD

The film is also very funny in places. Although I strongly suspect that was unintentional. Either way, it’s certainly odd. The two African American car-jackers provide much of this unintentional comic relief. They drive around procrastinating on race and racism, like a crap Travolta-Jackson Pulp Fiction rip-off duo, whilst their actions confirm the negative stereotypes that they rail against.

This is the worst thing is that nobody reacts normally. Everybody is ready to fly off the handle over the slightest thing. It’s this constant hysteria that jarred so badly thirteen years ago and jars so badly now. And in these sobre days, where 9/11 is now history, we can see this film for what it is. Over-the-top characters and cartoonish racism are par for the course. Everyone constantly make shouty outbursts laced with racial slurs that seem shoe-horned in and never genuine. Example: “So tell me, who gathered these remarkably different cultures together and taught them all to park their cars on their lawns” says a black man whilst hanging out of the back of a Hispanic woman…. Another example: a moronic, obnoxious Iranian shopkeeper — driven to rudeness by post-9/11 hysteria and racism, we are meant to think — does not do what his locksmith told him to, consequently gets robbed, and then does what anyone would: get a gun and go shoot a child… I mean, seriously, we never see him get pushed to that breaking point. By opting for pure melodrama at every turn, the message that racism comes in many forms, not just the obvious KKK lynch ’em kind, is completely undermined.

IN CONCLUSION: OVER-HYPED

I still think the hype and the three Oscars were overboard. Right after watching this again, Midnight Express came on the telly. So I watched that — also, for the first time in ten years or so. Wow, that is what a multiple Oscar winner is all about (despite an equally dubious portrayal of race), not this melodramatic, unrealistic portrayal of racism designed to exorcise middle class white America’s racial and 9/11 demons. Crash was the kind of film America needed in 2004, but that doesn’t mean it lived up to the hype. Crash‘s ideology and surreal histrionic racism are just as jarring as ever. But I have a renewed appreciation for the craft of this film and the moments when it is believable. For that, it earns an improved mark: 3/5.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/x0zz5XjT9FkZqoktcb7zGdbx8la.jpg

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London Terror Attack 22/03/2017 #WeAreNotAfraid

London has always been attacked by terrorists. We know that. But this never has, nor ever will, stop us leading our lives freely. I can say hand-on-heart: WE ARE NOT AFRAID.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

A Rhapsodic Post: Pi Day, Dates, and US vs UK English

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When I was scrolling through the http://www.duolingo.com message boards earlier today, I saw a post with the curious title “Happy Pi Day!”. I thought, ‘that’s odd’, so I clicked on the thread. The poster didn’t bother explaining what “Pi Day” was, and nobody else had posted, so I thought nothing else of it and clicked off.

But just now I’ve seen another reference to “Pi Day”. What the hell is this thing?, I thought. Being a trendy Londoner, I don’t like to feel I’m not “in on it”, whatever “it” is. Thankfully, this time the phenomenon was explained. “Pi Day” is the day when the date spells out the first few figures of pi (π):

3/14/15 (that is, 3.1415…)

Before I go on, Pi (π), if you thought it had something to do with tigers or boats, is the number which expresses the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter (that is, the distance from edge to edge across the centre). So the circumference of a circle is 3.14159… times the distance across a circle.

Back to the topic at hand. Frankly, none of this “Pi Day” malarkey makes any sense whatsoever here in the UK. Here, the days and months take the reverse order: the fourteenth day of the third month is expressed “14/03” not “03/14” as in America. Therefore, there never can be a “Pi Day” in the UK.

So, like the “World Series”, everyone in the world can celebrate “International Pi Day” – so long as you only count America. Those Americans, eh: what are they like, with their misnomers, sports that no one else plays, and lack of passports, et cetera? Incidentally, the most annoying thing about American insularity is British newspapers who humour yanks by pretending that there even is such a thing as Pi Day!

Dating systems in the world: look who's on their own, being difficult to the sake of it, yet again...

Dating systems in the world: look who’s on their own, being difficult for the sake of it, yet again…

But really, like all differences between the UK and the US, there is a little rivalry, sure, but it’s mostly in jest and good natured. We shake our heads for their prudish use of “bathroom” when they want to ask where they can have a shit (it’s a called a “toilet”! You’re not off to have a bath, are you!? It won’t even have a bath in it in a public place!), and they shake their heads at our use of “u” in “colour”, “favour”, and “labour” despite none of these words having a “u” in the original form we borrwed them from French.

But who is right, who is wrong? Which system is better: 3/14/15 or 14/3/15?

I’ve always found the British system more logical for the very simple system that days come before months which themselves come before years. That is, day/month/year is logical inasmuch as we are going from smallet to largest. Furthermore, most of the world uses the same system as the UK.

Ergo, ipso facto (using Latin makes me both clever and right), the UK system — 14/03/15 — is clearly superior, and “Pi Day” is a sham based on an error.

On the other hand…

There is a third option, however, and that is to put the years first! My documents and files on my PC are actually organised in this way. I used to organise my files the British way, e.g., “14.03.2015_ApplicationForm”. But I very quickly, many years ago, gave up on the British system. Why? It’s simply that all 14s end up together in the UK system, when what we really want is all the years to be grouped together, followed by months, followed by days of that month. This system goes from largest unit to smallest, the opposite of the British system. It’s the most logical of all.

Which means that months really should come before days… But Pi Day is still a sham as it can never really occur… except for the 9th of May in the year 3141AD: 3141/5/9. How I long to see that historic Pi Day, the true Pi Day. It’ll be a long wait, but surely worth it.

featured image from http://logcabincooking.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/pi-day-61.jpg

map of the world’s date systems from http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Date_format_by_country

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry