Roger Ebert has been sweating to establish himself as "Crash"‘s head cheerleader, but his latest missive, which claims the film is in the tradition of Charles Dickens, has been raising eyebrows and "for fucksake!"s all over the internet. At the Reverse Blog, cnw calls it "the worst attempt at a logical argument this side of a Pulitzer Prize: ‘Dickensian narratives are contrived and caricature-laden; ‘Crash’ is contrived and caricature-laden; ergo, ‘Crash’ is Dickensian!’ (Note to Roger Ebert: Just because ‘Gangs of New York’ was overlong and narratively incoherent, no one went around calling it Proustian)."
Dave Carr at the New York Times‘ Carpetbagger blog runs with Ebert’s argument that "Crash," like Dickens, was created to effect social change: "[A]pparently if ‘Crash’ lands with any impact, it should lead to fundamental changes in Los Angeles laws, including outlawing driving, racism and creaky plot points."
We hate to harp on this damn film…oh, we don’t, really, so we’re going to strum away for a sec. Ebert is "Crash"’s biggest fan, and even he has to acknowledge the film’s lousy characterizations and inept narrative? Even if we could believe that Paul Haggis‘ film was really made with grand intents to, oh, we dunno, remind people that they’re racist, rather than just being a lazy, smug swipe at an awards-friendly hot-button topic, that doesn’t excuse the film itself. The reason we still read Dickens is that he was a great storyteller â€” we don’t know what the hell we’d call Haggis.
While we’re on the literary bent, Bryan Appleyard at the London Times recounts the mythology of Truman Capote and the impact "In Cold Blood" had on America and journalism, along with the odd, excellent anecdote:
I have always remembered one story about him, which I hope is true. At the height of his fame, a lady spotted him in a restaurant, rushed over and asked him to autograph her breast. Capote did so. Her husband, incensed, strode over, took out his penis and suggested Capote might like to autograph that too.
"Well," responded Capote, "perhaps I could initial it…"
David Thompson at the Independent uses Capote and "Capote" to launch into an essay on how "most writers are quietly ashamed of the persistence with which the movies have struggled to present authors as heroes," ending with the suggestion that even Bennett Miller‘s rather unflattering portrait has a touch of this:
"Capote" wants to suggest that Truman was so horrified by his own treachery towards the Holcomb killers that he never recovered. I wonder if he ever noticed. He lived on, a gratified celebrity, and there were others he would betray before he slept.
+ ‘Crash’ owes a debt to Dickens (RogerEbert.com)
+ Great Expectations (Reverse Blog)
+ The Little Dickens (NY Times)
+ The Truman show (London Times)
+ What lesson did Truman teach us? You should never trust a writer… (Independent)
+ Blood type matches (Guardian)