Crash, and something else about reviewing…

Michael Pena in Crash

Frankly, I’m not going to write a professional review about the movie, because what’s the point of it? Professional reviews always portray the critic as very clever, smarter than everyone else etc, and that pisses me off. Who cares if you understood the subtext of this, or saw the hidden meaning in that? Anyone who reads your reviews is going to see whether he/she likes it or not, not how awesome this or that scene is. And when you critics write about the awesomeness of a scene, you spoil it for the reader and then say, but I don’t want to spoil it for you, please watch the movie. And they always have cliched and crappy phrases (at least in Indian reviews) that make me think, what the hell??? I’m sick and tired of reading a review that spoils the story but I can’t get an opinion if I don’t read it. True, there’s the stars and shit, but people want something more. Just because you put a bunch of stars or points (like I used to do) on something doesn’t mean it’s all that good. And all this time I’ve been reviewing like everyone else, seeing how everyone else has rated it and giving it my own rating, because it’s what I think is right. I used to love Roger Ebert, but now not so much, because he spoils the experience. I guess I should stop reading reviews before I see a movie. Which is why I’m not going to make this professional, use my usual structure to my reviews. I’m going to give an honest opinion and that’s it. Because this is a review, not an analysis.

The first time I had heard of Crash was when I saw that it beat Brokeback Mountain to win Best Picture at the 78th Academy Awards. Then, I thought that that was a big achievement. Now, I think that the Oscars are a bunch of horseshit. I might write something about that later…

The movie, as a movie not a stupid Oscar winner, is pretty well thought out. Paul Haggis, the writer, writes multiple story lines with ease and the editing’s pretty good. It involves many lives in Los Angeles, that city where a load of stories are told. The word melodrama is defined in wikipedia as dramatic work that exaggerates plot and characters in order to appeal to the emotions. Haggis employs that to make the audience experience sympathy ( I don’t know the exact word to use). There are big moments in the movie, points where Haggis employs the moaning of a lady (not exactly…but you know the kind in movies where something sad happens and to heighten the effect, they put in this lady softly doing some vocal stuff along with deep chords) to spike the scene emotionally. It did resonate with me, but after the movie you’re thinking to yourself what the hell? And the bigger problem for me are the storylines. There are so much, and they’re all short movies that are strung together by a common theme: race. The movie displays various acts of racial discrimination in today’s Los Angeles, a city with many ethnic groups. It’s been attacked for portraying stereotypes of ethnic communities, and I think that’s true. There are a lot of implausible scenes in the movie related to race. Nowadays, people don’t openly voice their racial opinion, even if it’s there. A white man who is 30 something in the U.S. probably wouldn’t call a black man a nigger to his face. Because America has progressed. But in the movie, Haggis writes his characters as conservative people who overtly shout out their racial discrimination.

I felt it was a good movie when I saw it, but now that I analyze it, I think that it’s all overplayed stuff…There is just too much stuff in the movie, and it all ends in 2 hours…coincidence plays a major role here, with characters at the end somehow or the other showing their faces in a storyline in which they weren’t there before. And you think, ah what writing! But now, it seems too neat, in the Hollywood way. I have to see Brokeback Mountain now to see why a lot of people feel cheated. A lot gets predictable towards the end, because you know how Haggis is going to overplay it for emotion. Because when people talk about situations that normal people don’t usually talk about, it’s bound to happen later in the movie. I’m probably just ranting on, but emotionally, yes Crash does affect you at first sight. But to anyone who has a brain, Crash tugs at the heart, because that is what race is. It’s what you feel when you look at someone who looks different but who you know is just like you. I don’t know, but I think I know why this movie won Best Picture: multiple storylines with melodrama, neat coincidences and because of homophobia…

Was that honest enough? And spoiler-free? You tell me.

Dexter: ‘Love American Style’

More parts funny than drama, Dexter takes more of a comedic stance with it’s characters. End result: two thumbs up.

I thought this episode threw the drama out of the window (except for the final minute). It played on character quirks and misunderstandings namely Masouka, Doakes and Dexter. Yes, there was drama, but it was handled in a not so dramatic way. But it was a fresh take just after the last one which was filled with action.

Dexter is definitely changing in character. When he has a midnight jaunt this time to get proof of his target’s activities, he has random thoughts about Rita and the kids. Is he emotionally affected by Rita but doesn’t know it? He keeps saying that he needs to break up with her, but he doesn’t do it. He doesn’t want a relationship and wants to be alone, but being with her is nice. What’s going on? One of the funny scenes was when Dexter asks the target and his wife (when they’re strapped in plastic) what the secret is to a healthy relationship. It was like a Coen quirk.

The other funny moments were when Doakes was interviewing Perry or Masouka was fussing about rats. Doakes is a hothead, and the writers must have realized that an angry Doakes blasting Masouka and Perry would be extremely funny, and it is. I should find out who plays Doakes…Tucci was also well played, especially in the blindfold scene. Angel got close to Dexter’s secret; I thought he would find the box but put it back.

The flashbacks this time around dealt with Dexter and girls. They were really short, but what relevance did they have to the episode. Nothing, I felt, apart from the fact that he’s faking his relationships, which we already know. One of the final shots at the end was a chiller: there was a witness to what he did. Will that be played up in the next episode? I can’t wait.

Here’s to you, Dex.