Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Message Movie Madness

In this week's episode of Best Pictures From The Outside in, hosted over @ Nick's Flick Picks we're discussing 'The Message Movie' since the pair of Best Picture winners that came up from either end of Oscar's timeline were All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and Crash (2005).

Oscar's Best Picture battlefields are strewn with the corpses of great movies. Singin' in the Rain and Manhattan weren't even nominated for the top prize. Citizen Kane, Apocalypse Now, Bonnie and Clyde all lost the Oscars they were up for. So did...

something else...

...the name escapes me right now.

Here's my mantra which you've heard it before: Great movies are their own rewards. Who needs Oscar? Great movies last forever. The giants of the cinema keep on giving year after year, decade after decade. Great movies are like a lighthearted frolic in the river when you've been fighting on the frontlines for weeks like these soldiers here in All Quiet (pictured right) and you can't remember what it's like to be clean. Great movies are like a heavenly loaf of bread and a big kielbasa when your stomach is as empty as your soul is starting to feel.

Great movies are forever. Some of them win Oscars. Some of them don't. Next!



Anonymous said...

Trash is a crime against cinema.

I just felt the need to say that.
I'm not a type of person who's passionate about hating movies but I despise Trash with every atom of my being.

Again, sorry for that rant.

Anonymous said...

Goatdog: favorite [read, least favorite] being Terrence Howard and Thandie Newton fighting in their apartment, and Haggis deciding to shoot it through the patio doors because he's seen better filmmakers do that, but doesn't stop to wonder why it might work in some cases but not in others.

Spot on.

Pedro said...

"If I have to choose a scene I'm going with the bookend of Michael Peña and the bedtime story of the magic cape. The first scene is a beauty since Peña is a sympathetic and fine actor."

I have to agree 100% with you here, Nat. I've only seen this movie once, when it came out, and the only vivid recollection I have is of these scenes with Michael Peña. For me, the best part of Crash.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate you guys looking past the Crash/Brokeback controversy and judging the movie entirely on its own merits. Crash isn't a bad film and I find myself feeling sorry for it since it's constantly criticized for something it had no control over.

Janice said...

//So Sandra takes a tumble, and none of her self-obsessed (presumably white) friends will help her, but her savior, Saint Maria, rescues her from her beige cocoon, takes her to the hospital, and brings her tea. How lovely! How loyal! You know, the Maria whom Bullock pays to help out, who would likely get fired if she did not help out. In this grand rapprochement between representatives of the Unaware Racist White Union and the Long-Suffering Hispanic Union, Paul Haggis doesn't see fit to give her a single closeup without Bullock, and after Bullock makes her silly declaration, doesn't show her face at all. By that time, she's a prop, not a person. What. the. fuck? Is he making some subversive statement about how Bullock's self-deluded epiphany isn't real? If so, why not at least one little closeup of Maria rolling her eyes? (We all know Ang Lee would have given Perry her own closeup.) It doesn't matter to Haggis what Maria thinks of this, because he's already dealt with what Hispanics think about race in his Michael Peña storyline.//

THANK YOU, goatdog! That entire scene pretty much summed up for me everything that was wrong with that film - how it managed to completely undermine it's own intentions. When I watched that sequence the first time and Bullock gives the "your my best friend line" I wanted to shout back "So why don't you pay a living wage" or "oh yes mammy, thankee mammy" or somesuch thing.

I agree with Nat also though that the earlier "I'm angry all the time and I don't know why" scene (my favorite in the film, if only because I can identify personally with that sense of lingering, inchoate anger, which has nothing to do with race or racism btw but is part of a larger, general cultural malaise - or maybe it's just me? ) does typify one of the few ways that the film "gets it right" and I wish there were more such moments throughout. (That the scene is then shortly followed by the one mentioned above only makes the film's hypocrisy and clumsiness all the more noticeable.)

No one mentioned the debts that Crash owes to both La Ronde (this supporting or minor character shows up in the background of this next sequence and on and on) and most of all to Magnolia (which is blatantly rips off). How is it that Crash can take BP and PT Anderson still has not?


yeah i thought about discussing Magnolia but it was already getting long.

the IN THE DEEP / WISE UP rip off is telling but it's also i think why it's more accessible. IN THE DEEP plays like a conventional underscored emotional pivot --very accessible whereas WISE UP was a genius but potentially offputting cinematic conceit... it was highwire and therefore, scary.

and we've seen time and again KUBRICK, LYNCH, ANDERSON, LUHRMANN... that the filmmakers who take real risks and push the cinema further aren't the ones that Oscar is necessarily comfortable with.

its' the same way in music or many other artforms actually. There are always innovators but the mass love generally goes to more accessible less revolutionary creatives who use the innovations in accessible ways... some of them (Madonna for example) are geniuses in their own right for the way they transform their appropriations but most are just finetuning what someone else created.

that's my feeling on why more conventional artists win prizes at least.