I just saw this movie. If you haven’t, do so. It’s the best thing to come out of Hollywood in years – I cannot remember ever seeing a film that kept such a high level of tension going from beginning to end, even though parts of it were very funny. By the time it had finished, I was exhausted.

I bow to the scriptwriters in awe. I wish I could write something half as good.

(I did need some of the jokes explained to me – I guess only an American would get the bit about Mexicans and cars on the lawn…went competely over my head.)

And you know what? I felt sometimes as if parts of it could have been written about this country …America (alas) doesn’t have the exclusive copyright on being weird when it comes to race relations.

Here’s a true story. Happened about two months back.
A friend of mine had a Jewish houseguest who wants to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Friend doesn’t know whether Kuala Lumpur has a synagogue, so she rings up the Tourist Bureau to find out. Woman on the phone says, ‘Huh? What’s a synagogue?’
Friend explains.
Woman on phone – a government servant, remember, whose job it is to give information to visitors to the country – laughs and says, just after she has been told that the inquiry is being made on the behalf of someone Jewish: “Oh no, we don’t have Jewish peoples here! They are naughty peoples!”

I shudder. This is the kind of person who represents our country to tourists? Someone who is so steeped in prejudice and ignorance that she can say something like that and not be deeply ashamed of her bigotry?
At a guess, I would also say that she is so stupid that she can’t tell the difference between the Israeli government (whom she may have legitimate reason to consider “naughty”), and someone who follows the Jewish faith. She is so ignorant that it never occurs to her that there may, from time to time, be people of that faith in the country, whom she is supposed to serve with courtesy. And she is so appalling bad-mannered that it never occurs to her that the person asking might be offended by such a crass statement.
I despair.

Anyway, go and see “Crash”.


CRASH — 9 Comments

  1. Crash was written and directed by the super delectable Paul Haggis, who created Due South, one of the best shows on tv (at least the first 2 seasons were, I think). His episode Victoria’s Secret remains for me one of the best things I have seen, full stop. Haggis also wrote the screenplay for Million Dollar Baby, directed by Clint Eastwood.

    While I found Crash to be brilliant, I didn’t actually like it, mainly because I didn’t like any of the characters and didn’t care what happened to them. Having said that, I really do think it’s a fantastic piece of work. I appreciate the craft. I just couldn’t connect to it emotionally.

    If you can manage it, have a look at Due South. It’s priceless!

    As for your government person. Sheesh. The Jews are naughty peoples. Well, I’m so glad you told me. I didn’t realise that.

  2. I must say I felt connected to many of the characters – and worried incessantly about them throughout! They were so flawed and human. You mean to tell me you didn’t care what happened to the locksmith and his daughter??

    I don’t think they show Due South here, although I could be wrong. And in Sabah we actually don’t have a working TV in the apartment…

  3. will go see “crash” when i get the chance after your recommendation

    “naughty people”? i’ve met ignorance in my classrooms here –
    one student when told about the holocaust actually said to me “what does is matter? they were only jews”

    oh boy did i disabuse them of their prejudices!

  4. I hope they listened!

    I remember the amazement of my daughter when she realised that the Yehudi she heard about in the school classrooms here were the same people as the Jews she heard about from me and read about in books such as “Anne Frank’s Diary”. Fortunately she managed to leave all that classroom crap behind her as she grew up.

    Sadly the woman in the Tourist Bureau obviously did not.

  5. The locksmith? I loathed him. I felt sorry for the daughter having him for a father, and I felt sorry for the wife being a victim of that culture.

    Due South is available on DVD, if you’re into DVDs and have a multi zone player. It’s a fascinating excursion through story telling, the development of the show depending on who was calling the shots at any given time.

    I once had a classful of boys tell me it was okay to bash up gays, because they deserved it. That lesson got a bit heated, I can tell you … *g*

  6. You didn’t like the locksmith?? Why not? I would love to sit down and chat with you about the whole film…

    I think one of the things I liked was the film’s honesty – it didn’t try to whitewash anything. The second thing I admired was the way nothing was black and white. There were no unflawed heroes; just ordinary people with a huge complex range of hang-ups, and just when you think you’ve got someone sorted out, wham, they show another side of their character.

  7. You’re on, next time we’re in the same time zone/place. Much to hash out in that film, I think.

    You’re absolutely right about it being a film in shades of grey. For me, the most powerful moment (stop now if you don’t want to be spoiled!!!) is ….

    when the white cop tries to save the black woman he’d sexually assaulted during the arrest. To watch him understand what he’d done to her was almost unbearable. A terrible moment of clarity. Didn’t make me like him or her, but it was a great moment.

  8. Yes, that was powerful cinema. And to have it also coupled with her bewilderment – not knowing whether to go on hating him, or say thank you – that exchange of looks as she was led away. Shivers down my spine.

  9. Yes … both of them seeing each other as people, possibly for the first time ever. As opposed to symbolic representations of the hated.

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