Must See Movie: Crash

I don’t watch TV and I don’t usually watch movies, unless it comes highly recommended That was the case with Crash, so this evening I walked up the street to the University of California, San Francisco medical center where, in their theater, they were showing Crash for free as part of their psychiatry department’s series on diversity.

The movie totally blew me away, shook me up, and got me thinking. Stop what you’re doing and add it to your Netflix queue or go find another way to see it.

Its premise is race relations in LA. Quality acting. Awesome film work. And a really important issue conveyed with provocative passion.

Walking home in the cool, foggy San Francisco night, my Mom and I stopped at an Irainian restaurant to to pick up some shishkababs to go. We felt like we had walked right back into the movie – we had to pronounce our order extra carefully for the non native to understand us. There was an Asian couple in the Middle Eastern restaurant. And a white woman talking on the phone the whole time while her husband sat silently. All the plot developments in the movie played out five minutes later in real life. That’s the best part of being in a major metropolis.

Go watch Crash, and let me know what you think.

5 Responses to Must See Movie: Crash

  1. Jay Kwok says:

    I’ve seen
    the movie, and while I thought it was provacative in
    the sense that it raised important issues, I also felt
    very unsatisfied by the end of the film. The issues
    that were raised were left unresolved, and I walked
    out of the theatre wishing the film had answered the
    questions it raised about race relations in America. I
    know it addressed extremely complex issues that most
    likely don’t have an easy answer that can be conveyed
    in a pop film, but I felt like the movie had set me
    up, as a viewer for some sort of unifying theme, but
    it didn’t.

    Personally, I really enjoyed the movie while I was
    watching it, but like I said, I was dissapointed at
    the end. Still, I agree that it is a must see because
    it definitely spurs conversation about critical issues
    regarding race in our country in a very main stream
    and easy way to understand, but it fails to say
    anything new or innovative.

  2. ben casnocha says:

    I guess I would agree with your own counter argument, which is that there are no and never will be answers. We agree that it raises questions and that that’s a good thing. You say, though, that the questions aren’t new or innovative. For me, they were.

    It reinforced the fact that *everyone* contributes to the tensions. For example, no one in the movie came out as a totally good guy. The whites were racist, blacks racist, Hispanics racist, Asians racist, etc. The black guy initially seems to admirably cajole his friend to stop doing things which perpetuate racist stereotypes against blacks, but then contributes to the stereotype himself by robbing the white couple. The young white cop seems noble for standing up to his racist partner, but then himself succumbs. This is different than the normal portrayal where the whites are bad and racist and everyone is suppressed.

    Second, I thought it presented the fact that everyday disputes occur all the time between people in melting pots (LA, SF, NYC, etc). These disputes may start off as simple language differences but escalate or subconsciously contribute to a larger, more violent stereotype. The closing scene, of an argument over a minor car crash that escalates because the woman can’t understand the other person, zoomed out from above. That argument occurred at one small intersection, in one small neighborhood, in one small district, in one big city, which is one of dozens of big cities in the country, which is one country among hundreds of big countries in the world. I thought this was a clever way of showing the distributed nature of where our racist stereotypes come from. It’s not just the skinheads or black panthers or other high profile people. In fact, stereotypes bubble up from the bottom, from the millions of daily interactions and arguments.

  3. Alex says:

    Not gonna lie, wasn’t a huge fan of the movie. Middlebury College played it here last Friday as part of our Friday Free Film series and also had a mini-symposium on the issues raised by the film as well. I thought the fact that all the sub-plots joined together at the end of the film was way too far fetched to be believable. Sure the issues are incredibly real and important, but I thought the movie did nothing more than take all the general stereotypes, throw them together as separate stories, then figure out a way to tie them together. The only good thing I really got out of it was the song they played at the end of the movie. It’s called “In The Deep” by Bird York. I bought it off itunes right after i saw the movie.

  4. ben casnocha says:

    Thanks for the mention of the soundtrack. It’s an awesome song.

    Sure, plot lines may not always tie together in such a tidy manner but the point is that seemingly isolated events all build on each other. And that all those seemingly minor incidents reinforce assumptions which bubble into larger stereotypes. I don’t know if realism is what the movie was aiming for as much as getting across a point.

  5. Tyler Willis says:

    Thanks for bringing this up Ben. I was lucky enough to catch this movie on a long flight and I enjoyed it tremendously. I agree that the idea of converging the stories isn’t realistic, but that technique has it’s place in certain films, and crash does a hell of a lot better job at using it more meaningfully then most (see “Go” as an example). I enjoy the movie’s statement a lot, I think we are all guilty of being judgemental. And it makes me wonder how we learn these stereotypes. I’ve always been interested in how we learn and associate things like stereotypes. how much of it is self-taught versus learned from society. This movie brings up old issues but they need to be brought up, and it does so in a way that is both visually stunning and mentally intoxicating. That’s all it needs to be a good film, but it also offers fresh data to interpret. I agree with everything said here and I think that it all applies, but the movie motivated me to look into an old interest, the actual process of learning. Crash helped me add to my list of questions to barrage my psych teacher with when school starts. One last thought on these issues is the taboo we place on race in this day in age. Its very hard to have an intelligent conversation because people are worried about offending people. Until we are able to view unique individuals without benchmarking them and we can divorce ourselves from societal norms/our races expectations we won’t even be able to think of a solution.

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