Monday, August 15, 2005

The first time I saw the trailer for Crash I thought it was a B-movie with an all star cast. The film was grainy and the film looked as if it was another gab-fest in the making. In short I had no interest in watching it until my brother came home one night last week and started barraging us that we should watch it. The barrage of "watch 'Crash'!" continued the following days ahead and my mom and sister did two days after. They had "nyah... it's ok" reaction but I was still curious why that movie elicited that big a reaction from my brother. I found an opening in my schedule earlier tonight when I saw the last full screening at the nearby mall.

I like it. No, change that: I love it. Even though I left the theater house with a heavy feeling, disturbed by the scenes I saw the message was there. The movie is about a series of stories that happens in two days told in a non-linear way. Set mostly in East L.A. the stories revolve around the lives of strangers trying to go about their business while inevitably at one point or another their lives would intersect. Or rather, their lives would "crash" against each other. The movie is introduced by way of these unforgettable words by one of the characters pondering their fate after being rear-ended in a deserted highway:
It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In LA, nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.
Conflict arises when these "crashes" happen and because one's sense of security and status quo have been disturbed the basic good that people believe they have suddenly disappear and the worst in them are quickly brought to the surface. Major players in the story are: Dist. Atty Rick and Jean Cabot (Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock) experienced their worst nightmare when they where carjacked by best friends, Anthony and Peter Waters (rapper, Ludacris and Larenz Tate). Rick Cabot is prepping himself to run for public office and the last thing he needs is riling the ire of his would be constituents by being involved in a case against a couple of black people, while Anthony is angry at what he perceives to be racist treatments by Americans including some of those from their own race.

Partners in police work and in their lovelife, Det. Graham Waters (Don Cheadle) and Ria (Jennifer Esposito) struggle against the apparent unfairness by the folks in the local government office to cover up a case involving a black "suspect" against a white undercover cop. Mixed in the mire is Waters' personal problem involving his missing (rebellious) brother and drug addict mom who prefers his brother over him.

A family of Persian immigrants, Farhad (Shaun Toub), his wife, Shereen (Marina Sirtis) and their daughter, Dorri (Bahar Soomekh) struggling against the discriminatory stereotype: Middle Eastern-looking Muslims = Arabs = Terrorists while trying to eke out an earnest living by managing a convenience store. When a faulty backdoor in their store refused to close properly they called in a locksmith to fix it. But after fixing it and finding the fault wasn't in the lock itself but rather the door, he tried to explain this to Farhad, but having his own problems with people in his new home giving him the raw end of the deal he refused to budge and demanded that he fix the door. The resulting argument saw the locksmith, Daniel (Michael Pena) walking away without being paid for his services.

The morning after, Farhad and his wife discovered his ransacked store and spray-painted hate messages on the wall. With the insurance company unable (or unwilling) to cover the damage, Farhad's reaction was to look for the most convenient person to blame, Daniel. Daniel is a Latino locksmith who recently moved his wife and only daughter, Lara (Ashlyn Sanchez) out of a bad neighborhood in hopes of protecting them from indiscriminate shootings.

Sgt. Ryan (Matt Dillon) has been a police officer with the LAPD for 17 years, he's basically a good cop with no bad record. His father (Bruce Kirby) is also a good citizen having helped a lot of the minority find employment in his office before his retirement. But every night both of them couldn't get any sleep because of Ryan's father suffers a lot from painful urination and they couldn't get a correct diagnosis because of some red-tape in their HMO. The person Sgt. Ryan gets in contact with on his pop's medical record is, Shaniqua Johnson (Loretta Devine) a black woman who won't budge outside the system no matter how much Ryan would plead. This results in a personal vendetta against the first black couple he comes across. Enter Cameron (Terrence Dashon Howard), a sitcom director and his lovely wife, Christine (Thandie Newton) who was stopped by Ryan and his reluctant police partner, Officer Hanson (Ryan Phillippe) on a not-so mistaken identity involving the Cabots' stolen SUV. Ryan forces a RUI charge against Cameron (which is false because his wife was the one who was slightly drunk) humiliates them both by forcing an apology under the threat of imprisonment and by molesting his helpless wife in front of him.

This incident almost destroys their marriage and almost gets them killed in separate incidents. Christine's near death experience also forces Sgt. Ryan to rethink his actions the night before thereby redeeming him while Cameron's confrontation with the police also forces Hanson to rethink his position involving black people which in turn got him in trouble later on thereby damning him.

There are a a few more stories in there that need to be heard but would take a lot more space than intended in this blog. The movie's still showing in some theaters and I do recommend that you catch it while you still can. By the way, this was also written and directed by Paul Haggis, the same guy behind the story of the Academy Award winning movie, Million Dollar Baby.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

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