Big â™¥ for La Manohla, who in today’s "Ask the critic" installment turns out this excellent bit of elegant vitriol aimed at our least favorite film of the year.
Q. How did "Crash," a somewhat obvious, over-the-top, contrived drama, score so many nominations and now come to be considered as a possible dark horse for best picture?
â€”Danny, Austin, TX
A. There are a few obvious reasons why "Crash" connected with the Academy. First, Los Angeles, where most of Academy members live, is a profoundly segregated city, so any movie that makes it seem like its white, black, Asian and Latino inhabitants are constantly tripping over one another has appeal. If nothing else it makes Los Angeles seem as cosmopolitan as, well, New York or at least the Upper West Side. Second, no matter how many times the camera picks out Oprah Winfrey on Oscar night, the Academy is super white. Third, the Academy is, at least in general terms, socially liberal. You see where Iâ€™m going, right? What could better soothe the troubled brow of the Academyâ€™s collective white conscious than a movie that says sometimes black men really are muggers (so donâ€™t worry if you engage in racial profiling); your Latina maid really, really loves you (so donâ€™t worry about paying her less than minimum wage); even white racists (even white racist cops) can love their black brothers or at least their hot black sisters; and all answers are basically simple, so donâ€™t even think about politics, policy, the lingering effects of Proposition 13 and Governor Arnold. This is a consummate Hollywood fantasy, no matter how nominally independent the financing and release. I also think it helped the filmâ€™s cause that its distributor sent out more than 130,000 DVD’s to the industry, insuring easy viewing.
That being said, we became convinced this morning when discussing the office Oscar pool (which is taken unimaginably seriously, as far as we can tell), that "Crash" was going to win Best Picture. Someone, please, convince us otherwise.
And, the promised pettiness: Via Defamer, blog Hanzi Smatter, "Dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in Western culture," points out that one of Justin Timberlake‘s bad-ass (if ever so late-90s) "Alpha Dog" kanji tattoos actually translates to "Ice Skating."
And, via (cough) Rush and Molloy at the New York Daily News, the Romanian singer claiming to have had an affair with Ralph Fiennes insists "Once, she says, they reenacted his sex scenes from ‘The End of the Affair.’"
Well, that had us howling. Okay, only high-minding things from here on out. For today, at least.