Sound: B Extras: D Film: B
Many people were shocked and amazed when Paul Haggis’ Crash
(2005) won the Academy Award for Best Picture and it was not because they all
loved David Cronenberg’s film of the same name. Instead, it is because after many decades, even with interesting
films like Playing By Heart, Haggis finally found a way to do a Robert
Altman film without Altman’s distinction and quirkiness. That is not to say Crash is dull, far
from it. It is to say that Altman’s
innovations finally sunk into mainstream filmmaking about four decades
later, which is why he received a lifetime achievement award the same night.
The film has been criticized for oversimplifying its
issues and even following formulaic “liberal” ideas, but it captured a side of
Los Angeles Altman’s last two such styled films (The Player, Short
Cuts) did not. Though not as
complex as Short Cuts, I think it fares better against The Player,
though it is not directly aimed at Hollywood and the big studio system. Instead, it manages to do what Haggis was
trying to do with his short-lived TV series EZ Streets (reviewed
elsewhere on this site) in trying a new approach to looking at the urban world
by taking a different angle.
Sandra Bullock and Brendan Frazier play one couple who is
assaulted by two young street hoods (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Larenz Tate)
while Thandie Newton and Terrence Howard play another harassed by a pair of
cops (Ryan Phillippe, Matt Dillon) the latter of whom sexually assaults the
lady. Many other storylines and
subplots criss-cross over these events until even worse things happen, though a
few parts are predictable and the conclusion pushes plausibility, the fact the
film is never afraid to get its hands dirty or look at how ugly people’s fears,
pettinesses, power plays and character flaws can build up and convert into ugly
damage that often cannot be undone is the most valuable thing of all. Whether you ultimately like the film or not,
it meets more of its ambitions than it might get credit for and that so many
fine actors put it on the line to make this work shows. If you have not seen Crash, catch it
when you can give it your undivided attention.
The 2.35 X 1 1080p digital High Definition image shows the
grain the Super 35mm shooting produced and has some limits just the same, with
some issues in detail and color consistency, but this is one of the best
initial releases in the format.
Cinematographer J. Michael Muro offers some subtle gloss to an otherwise
gritty film that is trying to visually show Los Angeles’ ambiguous
underbelly. Lionsgate is including
Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES discrete soundtracks, with the DTS-ES
better with its extra track, warmth, fullness and richness edge. Sony has been using PCM 16bit/48kHz 5.1
sound, but the DTS even has an edge on that.
Because this is a single-layer 25GB Blu-ray, extras have no room, so
there are none.
- Nicholas Sheffo