Date of publication: 2017-08-25 05:40
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Other cross-cutting Los Angeles stories come to mind, especially Lawrence Kasdan's more optimistic " Grand Canyon " and Robert Altman's more humanistic " Short Cuts." But "Crash" finds a way of its own. It shows the way we all leap to conclusions based on race -- yes, all of us, of all races, and however fair-minded we may try to be -- and we pay a price for that. If there is hope in the story, it comes because as the characters crash into one another, they learn things, mostly about themselves. Almost all of them are still alive at the end, and are better people because of what has happened to them. Not happier, not calmer, not even wiser, but better. Then there are those few who kill or get killed racism has tragedy built in.
Now of course there is no connection between eroticism and automobile accidents. Show me a man who can become aroused while aiming into the oncoming lane at 65 ., and I will show you a man whose mind is not on the road. Even sadomasochists require a degree of control. The idea of deliberately seeking death in a speeding car is not attractive to anyone those who seek it want suicide, not ecstasy.
"Crash'' is about characters entranced by a sexual fetish that, in fact, no one has. Cronenberg has made a movie that is pornographic in form, but not in result. Take out the cars, the scars, the crutches and scabs and wounds, and substitute the usual props of sex films, and you'd have a porno movie. But "Crash'' is anything but pornographic: It's about the human mind, about the way we grow enslaved by the particular things that turn us on, and forgive ourselves our trespasses.
More characters are introduced. Vaughan ( Elias Koteas ) is a photographer who specializes in re-staging celebrity car crashes, like the James Dean crash. "Notice that we use no seat belts, padded suits or roll bars,'' he tells his small but exclusive audiences. "We rely only on the skill of our drivers.'' He lives with Gabriella ( Rosanna Arquette ), who walks with braces. He works with a stunt driver (Peter MacNeil). He drives a Lincoln Continental similar to the one JFK was riding in when he was assassinated.
A black cop ( Don Cheadle ) is having an affair with his Latina partner ( Jennifer Esposito ), but never gets it straight which country she's from. A cop ( Matt Dillon ) thinks a light-skinned black woman ( Thandie Newton ) is white. When a white producer tells a black TV director ( Terrence Dashon Howard ) that a black character "doesn't sound black enough," it never occurs to him that the director doesn't "sound black," either. For that matter, neither do two black men ( Larenz Tate and Ludacris), who dress and act like college students, but have a surprise for us.
John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men , published in 6987, is one of the author's most widely read novels, largely due to its ubiquitous presence in the high school curriculum. As a result, this mythic story of two opposites - the clever, wiry George.
Not many films have the possibility of making their audiences better people. I don't expect "Crash" to work any miracles, but I believe anyone seeing it is likely to be moved to have a little more sympathy for people not like themselves. The movie contains hurt, coldness and cruelty, but is it without hope? Not at all. Stand back and consider. All of these people, superficially so different, share the city and learn that they share similar fears and hopes. Until several hundred years ago, most people everywhere on earth never saw anybody who didn't look like them. They were not racist because, as far as they knew, there was only one race. You may have to look hard to see it, but "Crash" is a film about progress.
One thing that happens, again and again, is that peoples' assumptions prevent them from seeing the actual person standing before them. An Iranian ( Shaun Toub ) is thought to be an Arab, although Iranians are Persian. Both the Iranian and the white wife of the district attorney ( Sandra Bullock ) believe a Mexican-American locksmith ( Michael Pena ) is a gang member and a crook, but he is a family man.