And speaking of things which aren't exactly celebratory of women, Crash(2004) won Best Picture at the Oscars last night.
I sincerely thought Brokeback Mountain would win. My favourite of the lot was Munich, but I knew that it didn't stand a chance in hell, as directors talented to the point of legendary status are seldom awarded properly, a fact which Jon Stewart alluded to after 3-6 Mafia won for Best Song--"Martin Scorsese: zero Oscars. 3-6 Mafia: one Oscar."
Jon Stewart was a good host. At times it felt like watching a three hour episode of The Daily Show, especially during the hilarious faux-attack ads for Best Actress, narrated by Stephen Colbert.
Anyway, my initial fury over Crash(2004)'s win has kind of diminished to a dull disgust now. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, here's my take on it;
The film begins with soft, colourful rain and sanitised, boring light jazz--a musical sensibility which continues throughout the film to make sure we, as an audience, don't ever get too excited. It proceeds then to employ a lot of actors to give us brief, prematurely birthed stories populated mostly by weak archetypes with weak, tiresome twists.
There's an Iranian couple who own a small store which is robbed because their door won't lock. The Iranian man hired an Hispanic man to fix the door, but the Iranian man was too impatient and irritable, and didn't know English well enough, too understand when the Hispanic fellow told him the whole door needed to be replaced. So the Iranian guy blames the Hispanic guy for the robbery and he goes to shoot the Hispanic guy. Only the Hispanic guy has a little girl who can leap four feet in the air and has a magical, invisible, bullet-proof cape, rendering the Iranian's gun useless. The Iranian guy seems to ponder this, but we never learn how any individual involved processed the episode.
Then, in a hyper-retelling of Driving Miss Daisy, there's a white woman played by Sandra Bullock. She's sort of a bitch, but then one day she hurts herself and realises her Hispanic maid is her best friend.
A cop played by Matt Dillon pulls over a black couple played by Thandie Newton and Terrance Howard. Newton and Howard were having a good time, and she's a little drunk. Dillon's a racist, decides to molest Newton, and later, in a scene I actually thought wasn't so bad, Newton grills Howard about not sticking up for her, in exactly the way I might imagine a slightly drunk person might act after having just been molested by a guy with a gun and authority.
But later, Dillon rescues her from a car wreck. We never find out how the characters feel about the episode. But it was re-enacted on Oscar night by, apparently, the cast of George Romero's Land of the Dead.
Then there's another cop who's not a racist, until, I guess, the end of the movie when he shoots a black man for no apparent reason.
By the time the credits are rolling, you feel like you've seen a slightly above average episode of the latest crappy CSI knockoff, though you sense its logic, in several places, wouldn't hold up under scrutiny. And you also realise that there were episodes of Star Trek that handled these issues better. Perhaps people are racist in ways I don't understand, but which may be exorcised by this movie. I dunno. All I can say for sure is that, forty years from now, this movie will be even more boring than, though maybe not as cloying as, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is to-day.