There’s nothing left for us to say but: We wish we could quit "Crash."
As entertainment reporters feverishly twitch over their keyboards, critics slaughter their neighbors’ cats and study the entrails for further insights into the close races, and we near the end of the Oscar countdown, Cara Mia DiMassa at the LA Times is left to resort to talking to members of the non-film community about their opinions on Paul Haggis‘ front-runner:
Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton has seen the film three times, and encouraged the deputy chief in charge of LAPD’s professional standards to pass copies around the department. But Joe Hicks, the longtime African American community activist, believes the movie so distorts the state of race relations that it could hurt Los Angeles’ reputation.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa loved the movie. His lawyer, a former member of the county Human Relations Commission, hated it.
So basically, some people really like it, and others really don’t. For a more resolved take on the film, we recommend Matt Zoller Seitz‘s lengthy, smart piece on why "Crash" is hurting America:
Haggis’ depiction of modern race consciousness is so wrongheaded in so
many ways that the film’s critical and financial success might actually
inflict damage on the culture, by making apoplectic, paranoid racism
seem like the norm and encouraging audience members (particularly the
young) to think Haggis is tearing off society’s mask and showing how
things really are, all of which will allow those same ticket buyers to
feel superior to the people in the movie and think themselves incapable
of "real" racism, the type depicted in "Crash."
And in an interview with Dan Persons here at IFC News, Three 6 Mafia (of "It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp" â€” every time we read that title, we think of the Dave Chappelle "I Know Black People" skit ("Is pimping easy?"), which may sum up all of "Hustle & Flow"‘s buying into its own bullshit. Still, we hope the song wins â€” who wouldn’t?) reveal that they’re pulling for "Crash."
And "Tsotsi" is now bearing the burden of being the favorite to win Best Foreign Language Film despite no one thinking it’s that spectacular of a film. David Edelstein in discussion with Lynda Obst at New York:
I have this theory about what wins the foreign-film Academy Award most
years. You start with a movie that feels really alienâ€”the average Oscar
voter says, "What is this? Where am I? I can’t handle this." And then
gradually, the recognizable Hollywood formula kicks in, so by the end
theyâ€™re saying, "Who’s the director’s agent?" "Tsotsi" is set in a South
African shantytown and opens with a horrifying murder. The main
character has a face that’s unreadable at firstâ€”hard and cold, yet with
a trace of androgyny that suggests something more complex and
unresolved. Well, he steals a car and ends up with a baby and finds the
meaning of Christmas, etc. At test screenings there were standing
ovations. Oscar bait doesn’t come any more tempting.
Rory Carroll at the Guardian oddly takes "Tsotsi"’s pivotal carjacking as an excuse to offer up a history of the crime in South Africa, and tips on what to do if your car is hijacked in South Africa. We like: "If about to be shot turn to the side, reducing the target you present by a third. Lift your shoulders and pull your neck in. Do not turn your back – the front of your body has more bone and rib-cage to protect your internal organs."
Andrew O’Hehir‘s rather cynical in his "Beyond the Multiplex" column for Salon this week, which tackles the neutering of the Foreign Language Film category and the lifelong boringness of the Documentary category before looking at this year’s nominees. He’s one of the few we’ve come across who thinks "Sophie Scholl" will win (he’s also going against the penguin to predict "Murderball" will pull through among the docs). O’Hehir also takes to task Emma Forrest‘s poorly reporter Observer article on the "Paradise Now" fuss (a story that, in general, we’ve found so infuriating we’ve basically chosen to just ignore it).
The Observer article, which helpfully never asks Abu-Assad or anyone else involved with "Paradise Now" about their intentions, goes on to say that the real problem with SaÃ¯d’s character is Nashef‘s "Hollywood looks," which create an atmosphere of "sexy jihad" around his attack. His friend Khaled (Ali Suliman) evidently refuses to commit mass murder because he’s insufficiently hot. "Paradise Now" has less chance than it ever did of winning an Oscar (and it never had much). But that article deserves an award for cultural journalism at its most distinctively odious, combining slipshod reporting with half-baked postmodern theorizing. Congratulations!
And at his New York Times Carpetbagger blog, Dave Carr, in a delirium of packing and Oscar fatigue, spews out all of his dislikes about Oscar coverage.
+ Differing Views of Race in L.A. Collide in ‘Crash’ (LA Times)
+ Anything but this (The House Next Door)
+ In the footsteps of "Shaft": Three 6 Mafia talks bringing the Memphis sound to the Oscars (IFC News)
+ The Pre-Show Game (New York)
+ Carjacking: the everyday ordeal testing South Africa (Guardian)
+ Beyond the Multiplex (Salon)
+ Rant, The Musical (NY Times)