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stickykeys633 Official Brokeback Mountain/Crash Thread

lj movie reviews
Crash (Widescreen Edition)
directed by Paul Haggis

what have you seen?
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5 out of 5


Okay, this is going to be rambly and stream of consciousy, and probably a bit misguided, but this is where I am now so bear with me.

So you know my thoughts on BBM and how much I loved it, but I haven't talked about Crash here because it was always one of those movies. Those overly personal movies that you can't really explain why it's so relevant to you, it just is? Well, I'm going to try and explain.

First, disclaimer: I don't care about who directed these movies, I don't care about their intentions, I'm only really going to talk about my opinions on the scenes and how they affected me.

So the first time I saw Crash was with my girl Nina. We were the only ones in this HUGE theater and snuck in a bottle of wine and Cheez-Its (classy, I know). The movie was absolutely spell binding. I thought all the characters were wonderful, I thought the acting was top notch, I thought the story (albeit definitely heavy handed at times) was stella! Even though there were parts that were completely obvious, we still clutched each other and screamed like Banshees. It was good entertainment and I knew immediately I would get it on DVD.

Great right?

I know that a lot of the movie was heavy handed, but it was something I actually enjoyed about it. I've experienced MASS amounts of overt racism, but it's the subtle, sneaky racism that gets me the most. Which is why I loved that Crash was so obvious about it.

The scene with Matt Dillon yelling at Loretta about affirmative action, had the exact same impact as someone not training me properly at my job (Why do you want to know that? I know it's part of your job description, but it's really not necessary. You shouldn't apply for that promotion, I heard it was already filled... etc). I thought it was a very nice wake up call in that Hey, you know how uncomfortable you feel because of [insert scene here]? Well minorities pretty much feel like that EVERY DAY kind of way.

This was one of the successes of the film I think. To put things on that kind of level where it's almost caricature, but it's still very real. Bringing to daylight those things that we think in our head but won't say outloud.

This movie is a hate movie, the next time I saw it was with some friends (all black). We were sitting in the theater (again the only ones there) and the comments that went back and forth were so interesting.

Scene: Tandi and Terrance are in the bedroom arguing about him not defending her with the police.

Dude: See, that's why black men don't like black women, cause y'all be runnin' off at the mouth all the time!

Sista: You shut the f*ck up you bastard! You just can't handle no black girl!

Dude: Why y'all gotta make black men feel like sh*t though?

Sista: Why is it only black women that make you feel like sh*t? I see your little white girl yelling at you all the time!

Dude: Aww, well she aint, well...

Sista: Yeah, that's what I thought!

Scene: Don Cheadle is in bed with Jen Esposito

Sista: Ha! Mexicans do be having their cars on the lawn! They be packed into them to, lappin' up and sh*t!

(Everyone else pretty much agrees, but what they don't say is anything about Jen Espisito, or later The Handyman fitting into this cliche.)

Scene: Sandra D falls down some stairs

Dude: Ha! That b*tch got BUSTED!

Stix: Y'all leave my Sandy B alone! She's just going through a tough time is all.

Dude: How you gonna stick up for the white girl?

Stix: One, it's Sandy B, two, just because she's a seething racist doesn't mean that she deserves to fall down the stairs, how else is she going to have a redemption moment if the mystical minority doesn't lead her there?

Sista: Yeah, I can see that, but it was still funny, Ha!

And it was like justice was served. Everything that you ever thought about any race (including your own) was just layed out there on a table in a matter of fact way, and you were allowed to comment about it in any way that you pleased.

There is exactly one white person in the entire world that I would consider watching this movie with and even that scares the crap out of me even though he and I are both pretty much on the same page with the race stuff. You could be the most liberal accepting white person in the world, you could be i_dreamed_i_was and I still won't watch it with you. Because I don't feel it's that kind of movie. This movie wasn't to educate for me, it was to provide release, and hopefully through that release, some questions get raised, and maybe they get answered, and I think that could have been the triumph for the film, but the marketing was so off it became this MESSAGE! movie, which it's not.

So, the next part of it is not necessarily, Did it deserve an Oscar?, but Did it deserve an Oscar over Brokeback Mountain?

The answer, is yes, and no. Cinematically speaking, BBM was tops! It was lush and grand and moving and sweeping and oh so wonderful. The acting was superb, the script sound and lovingly subtle, and the direction was nearly flawless. If this were a movie about which movie was better movie wise I would say BBM.

The problem is that the Oscars are political, they always have been, it's not about which movie does best, but which movie is more important. Now because I see the gay side, and the race side, I think both movies are of equal importance and serve two different messages in fulfilling ways. The gay thing is very important, but it's an ongoing deal that will always have something pushing it. Brokeback certainly did tons to give people new views on homosexuality (by pushing it as an actual relationship that can be heavenly yet flawed which makes it identifiable, but also showing the disaster that prejudice can bring when not dealt with succinctly), but I feel that it's at the top of its game with so much more to offer. I think the momentum for Crash was dying down, and I think that with the Katrina thing, it was important for race to be brought back up.

I made a comment at Joe R's blog about how I totally called Crash winning because it was post Katrina. Another reader called me out and said that was crap because each movie up for an award could be called post-something:

Sticky - Cut out the "post Katrina" nonsense. Off the top of my head I'm sure I could come up with "Post-" arguements for the other noms.

Post 9/11 & Gulf Rewar - Munich

Post mass veto of Gay Marriage - Brokeback Mountain

Post Falling out of love with the administration - Good Night and Good Luck

And I'm totally with him on that, but I'm also not because no two films have caused as much media excitement as BBM, and Crash. And the post mass veto of gay marriage is not a current issue (is it? That's a serious question, my knowledge of current events is extremely slim, I really didn't even know that happened. Was it on a national level, or was he just talking about the individual state's decision?), but the effects of Katrina are being dealt with even to this day.

I swear if I hear one more person talk about how the evacuees are lazy and won't go out and find homes and places to live I will KILL someone. snacktastic said it so well here and I love this comment so much,

God, it's easy to cast judgement on others when you aren't the one being affected. And I think too people forget what it means when there is a massive relocation of people--it's a way of destroying cultural ties and create groundlessness for people, who have lived in a cultural paradigm in a particular part of the country. I think that people forget too, it's not just the relocation of the person, but a destruction of an entire community. I don't know if Nagin's "Chocolate City" comment was appropriate ["It was" --SK], but I know that he is speaking to the problems around destroying a culture in that city to replace it with a much whiter population and that is a way of erasing history. It's happened to alot of people in the past and I hope that at least as a country, we don't let it happen again. Though I have lost faith in the ability for this government to act humanely and many white Americans to respond to the legitimate needs of black people. :(

There is a loss on alot of levels...

The poster on Joe R's blog went on to say,

Is it possible that a contemporary movie with message of flaw and redeemption (and set in the voters backyard) resonated more than period pieces? Possibly, but saying that Crash wins amounts to nothing more than "white guilt" is reckless.

And I get what he means, but I think that "white guilt" is important, and one of the reasons this film works. Because white people forgiving themselves because they're not "that racist" makes white people maybe think, "Oh my goodness, what did I just say?" which is going to be crucial (not from the film, just in general) when dealing with the evacuees as we all have or will soon.

That's why I think it was important that it won now. There's more to that, feel free to ask questions because this is literally just coming out in one big massive heap of weirdness, but I honestly believe it.

I hate this season mostly because it pitted the blacks against the gays, and what are black gay people supposed to do with that?! It's funny because I don't think it should be a matter of BBM/Crash, but of why these are the two that are automatically compared. I don't see any long drawn out paragraphs about why Good Night and Good Luck deserved to win you know? That's neither here nor there, just my conspiracy theory about the plan of America to pin all minorities in a never ending struggle against each other while they pull they strings and laugh and laugh that I find to be amusing.

This is definitely not it, but it's all I feel like typing for now. I don't know, ASK QUESTIONS! I'll be happy to respond and maybe clarify on something that didn't make sense, or expand, or maybe learn something new!


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 7th, 2006 09:36 am (UTC)
Stacey, I wish I could quit you.

Mar. 7th, 2006 09:57 am (UTC)
If you can't beat me, then I guess you'll just have to stand me.
Mar. 7th, 2006 10:06 am (UTC)
WHen I viewed Crash, I had no clue as to what it was about. All i knew was it had a large cast. I thought it was going to be about car crashes.
Once I realized that was not going to be the case, I was much more interested. Though that interest faded quickly. I got the points it tried to convey. The problem I had was out of all the individual storylines, there were only 2 that I cared about.
That was the one with the little girl and the magic cap or whatever it was.
The other was the Ryan Phillippe/Terence Howard story.
All of the characters annoyed me to the point I just couldn't bring myself to care about them.
Also it jumped around way to much, which took all of the impact that the film could have had away from me.

I could not identify with anyone, and by the time it was over I just wanted to kill Paul Haggis for making such a horrble film.

But I can commend the film for at least trying to hit at something that needed to be done.

Brokeback Mountain, was just as lame to me. As a gay man myself, I could not bring myself to care about anyone in it either. Except for maybe Jack.
I know it was a different time, and it was much harder. Still they all made their own choices and just because they were "So in Love" and chose to lead a straight life, I can't have sympathy for that.
Ennis' wife was also someone who annoyed me. If you saw your husband making out with some guy, you wouldn't keep your mouth shut about it.

In the end neither of these films should have won best picture, sadly the movie that should have gotten it, was overly overlooked by the academy.
Mar. 7th, 2006 10:26 am (UTC)
Ooh, what movie do you think that was? I'm extremely interested to know.


Ennis' wife was also someone who annoyed me. If you saw your husband making out with some guy, you wouldn't keep your mouth shut about it.

I commented on this in my BBM post (which you should read, I think you'd like it, the link is in this post). I think that that was 100% percent a sign of the times. Completely and all the way. There's no way that a woman of that era would ever question her husband about an issue like that unless she was ready to completely end things which of course she was.

One of the successes of BBM was that it caused you to really think and rationalize things like that. I believe that it deserved the nomination, but I think it picked the wrong year you know?
Mar. 7th, 2006 11:20 pm (UTC)
Honestly to me the movie that huld have won, but wasn't even nominated was "Mysterious Skin".
Mar. 7th, 2006 11:41 pm (UTC)
Really? I can't say much because I still haven't seen it (I have it downstairs but something about it!), but Araki with an Oscar? That's so not Indy!

Heh, I'll have to see what you mean. Hmm... you're fun Jayden.
Mar. 7th, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that would be odd if Araki would get an Oscar. Though for me, it was 123423 times better than all of the nominated films.
I try to be fun.
Mar. 7th, 2006 04:57 pm (UTC)
That was so good. It is a shame that there could only be one winner. I didn't see BBM but I heard it was really good. But I think the academy was saying something about race relations in this day and age. Sadly your race will always be the first thing people see and not your sexual identity. My supervisor, who is gay, was mad that BBM didn't win. He said Crash was too black and white. He said it was too extreme. There was no one in the middle. The thing he doesn't understand is that this is the life that minorities live....it its black and white.
Mar. 7th, 2006 05:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you! What a great comment, and I completely agree. It was severe, but LIFE is severe too! Thanks, L.
Mar. 7th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, we all “stereotype” other races in some fashion — that’s obvious. ... But, no, we don’t easily give voice to our racist sentiments. And that’s why “Crash” rings so false.

Last month I wrote an article on the best picture nominees (called “Anything But ‘Crash’”) in which I talked about how the most potent form of racism in this country is no longer overt but covert. Once upon a time, yes yes yes, it was overt, which is another reason why “Crash” sucks. It’s doing what simple-minded generals do: It’s fighting the last war.

Whatever, that's so ridiculous...
Mar. 7th, 2006 06:02 pm (UTC)
Not even me? *sobs*

Nah... I just... For me, Crash was just too hit-you-over-the-head. But I'll admit this: while I felt similarly about Higher Learning, for example, I know that being aware of the director/writer's race probably had some influence over me, and contributed to me not caring much for it, overall. JMHO.
Mar. 7th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Heh...
I LOVED Higher Learning! How come all this overt racism stuff only happens to me!?
Mar. 9th, 2006 11:45 pm (UTC)
Mar. 10th, 2006 05:53 am (UTC)
Re: Answer:
Heh, truth...
Mar. 7th, 2006 06:20 pm (UTC)
I like being quoted! :D Yay for me! Thanks for your note, btw. I just heard alot of different opinions about Nagin's statement and I thought I would reserve judgement on that phrase--and remember his point was so accurate.

Anyways, I haven't seen Crash, though any movie that causes that much of an emotional reaction, both positively and negatively is at least worth checking out.

This:"I hate this season mostly because it pitted the blacks against the gays, and what are black gay people supposed to do with that?! It's funny because I don't think it should be a matter of BBM/Crash, but of why these are the two that are automatically compared."

I think this statement totally appropos and I think it's really problematic when people start pitting racism against homophobia in some Oscar battle. It ignores black gay men and it serves a purpose of marginalizing racism and homophobia to serve those in power by having the pretext as if we are incapable of holding both issues with importance as distinct forms of discrimination.

I found Brokeback interesting b/c growing up where I grew up, I knew alot of older white guys being in the closet in rural America and in my town, they beat them with baseball bats. I found it viscerally hard to deal with b/c as a kid, I always had this intense fear of being killed by other people b/c of my sexual identity--and I don't think it was that reality based but it was the worry. And I see alot of people are all like thinking, "I hate Brokeback b/c it shows this whole tragic gay thing" or that it should have been more realistic. And I understand that aspect--it's hard when so few movies deal with homophobia or gay relatioships--the movies that actually push into public consciousness takes on a larger importance and people are upset when they don't reflect a larger experience. But I think at the same time, it's important to remember that it's very much the experience of rural white men at a time and place that emotionally resonates.

And that goes back to Crash. The problem with the heavy-handedness and apologia may be in part that there are so few movies that actually address racism that make it into mainstream consciousness and not enough representation in terms of race from the creators of movies in general and even movies that talk about racism, it can create this intense reaction and be symbolic of years of frustration at the narrow scope that happens in Hollywood but also through the media outlets in wider culture.
Mar. 7th, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC)
Oh and after reading the comments above about the men marrying women, I have heard this alot. But I'm gonna be frank here. I think that growing up in the 70s and 80s in rural America, I had no concept that there were people out there who were living lives as openly queer people. And neither did anyone else I knew. And there was a sense of greater loss from people who had to leave their community in order to be okay. Some of that is class-based too--I mean, I knew people, men in my own family, where the scope of their life was very localized and there wasn't this geographic mobility, going away to college and without certain experiences, you don't think that those experiences exist. My stepdad married my mom even though he was gay and he lived a very narrow fucked up life where he drank too much and was emotionally shut down-- and while the marriage is problematic, it's not like he lived this life where other options were available and it's not like we lived in this paradigm where people left and lived other kinds of relationships.

Things really changed for me, for example, b/c i went away to college, b/c my family decided to move out of town and all sorts of reasons and being a professional has given me mobility--not just geographically but internally, with different social groups.

I don't know--it's easy to condemn people for their choices but I think it's harder to realize that many people don't really feel as if they are choices but that they are adapting to absolute directives.
Mar. 7th, 2006 08:43 pm (UTC)
Big ol fat stinking WORD!
Mar. 7th, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC)
The whole Katrina thing:

My boyfriend went to Tulane and has friends that still live in NOLA, and his mom was saying something about one of her friends asking why they don't just raze the Ninth Ward entirely, since it's just a slum. Gabe (my boyfriend) countered that maybe to someone that's lived in a Columbus suburb their entire lives, it's a slum, but that doesn't change the fact that that's home to tons of people. Fats Domino lost his home and two pianos, and B.B. King lost his home and a ton of guitars. I heard an interview with King on NPR (I think) where he was talking about the loss of community that is occurring there. So many jazz/blues greats are from New Orleans and they still have homes there, because that is the community and culture that allows their music to flourish. He mentioned a cafe (the name escapes me) that a local musician (the name also escapes me) got his first job at bussing tables. That cafe has since been restored, but it's closed because there's nobody there to run it. I am looking for a link to that interview transcript, and I'll let y'all know if I can find it.

And according to what my friend Jeremy's saying, there's a situation going on as far as cleanup. Apparently, there is a large group of Hispanics (and I'm guessing Mexicans) doing most of the cleanup, and Jeremy (who lives down there) says he hears a lot of griping about all the Mexicans in NOLA. But, he says, the people complaining are the same people who gripe about how the city needs to be restored but they don't want to do any of that work. So you have this group of Mexicans willing to do the work that nobody else wants to do, but they're complaining that the Mexicans are overrunning the city. Not sure if that's true or not, but that's what I'm hearing.

I realize that I may not have the same cultural perspective, since I'm white and I've lived in a middle-class neighborhood most of my life, but that's my two cents.
Mar. 7th, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC)
Two cents well earned if you ask me. Thanks for your input, and if you find that link, please do post!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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