Don’t be racist, especially in L.A.
A Brentwood housewife and her DA husband. A Persian store owner. Two police detectives who are also lovers. A black television director and his wife. A Mexican locksmith. Two car-jackers. A rookie cop. A middle-aged Korean couple… They all live in Los Angeles. And in the next 36 hours, they will all collide…
So the one thing about this movie that always seems to get people crazy (myself included) is that this was the Best Picture winner over the near-masterpiece that is ‘Brokeback Mountain’, and while I can’t say that I think otherwise now, I can still say that i think that this one doesn’t deserve all the bashing it seems to get.
To start off with this flick, I have to say that the general idea of having all of these stories center around racism is pretty nifty and it works mainly because of Paul Haggis‘ script. Haggis did a great job at showing us all of these different perspectives on other peoples’ race and gives us plenty of stories where we realize just how hard it is to be anything in this world, especially when race comes into the picture. I think I’ve mentioned race about 3 times already in this review but it’s as if it was just another character in this movie, but it just didn’t speak. It’s everywhere these characters look, around everything they do, and basically impacts all of their everyday activities and it’s only gotten worse and worse as the years have gone by. It’s a harsh reality but it’s a very true reality and I have to give it to Haggis for at least going out there and showing all of this because it’s something everybody needs to hear and understand. There’s plenty of other themes and messages here about life, people, and the world we live in, not just racism, but it’s definitely one of the themes that I could understand and connect with the most.
The problem that Haggis ran into with this script was that it sometimes dives into soap opera-ish and that’s where it sort of began to lose me. Some moments in this film rang true for me, while others just felt too cinematically cheesy that they could only happen in a movie, which is what movies are all about but this film does try its hardest to seem like its real. Take for instance, the scene with Ryan Phillippe and Larenz Tate, without giving too much away I just want to say that they both are driving in a car and within 1 minute of the ride, they are already fighting and arguing about something, which is trying to show how a black person and white person can’t really get along. Then it ends in a very bizarre and shocking way but it came off more as unbelievable to me because it seemed like Haggis was trying too hard to try and show us how messed up relations between two different races are. Nice try Paul, but life doesn’t always play out like that.
However, for every “made for movies” scene, there was an equally compelling and powerful scene waiting to just come right up and snatch us. Haggis has a couple of scenes as director where he unleashes these very heavy scenes full of his score and they work because as over-powering as it may be, it still keeps your eyes glued on the screen as you can feel the emotion pouring out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but the fact is that when it works here, it works superbly.
Where this film really works is the ensemble cast that Haggis was able to assemble here and all do perfect jobs with their sometimes unlikable characters. Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, and Matt Dillon are all given characters that you can’t really like just because they don’t do the right thing about 95% of the whole flick, but yet they are very compelling, especially Dillon. Matt Dillon is perfect here as the racist cop, which is sort of a cliche in and of itself but he somehow transcends above that formula and makes this a character that it seems like only he could play. He’s unlikable, pompous, and racist but by the end we start to see the human side of him and it actually feels very real and that’s where I think his performance hit its highest note. Once we start to realize that he’s actually a good actor too, is also when his performance got better. Still don’t know why this guy hasn’t been able to get more like this recently. Then again, there was ‘Takers’ but I think that only counts as a good movie for me.
Consensus: Crash is a very hard flick to talk about because it’s well-written, features some great points about the world we live in, especially when it comes to race, and is acted greatly by everybody involved, but way too many scenes also feel like they were just made for a movie experience and the more the film seemed to ring false, the more it seemed to lose points for me. Good film? Yes. Good enough to win Best Picture over Ang Lee’s near-masterpiece? Nope, sorry.
Michael Caine is still a pimp.
A British reporter, Fowler (Michael Caine, in an Oscar-nominated performance), falls in love with a young Vietnamese woman, Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen), and is dismayed when an American, Pyle (Brendan Fraser), also begins vying for her attention.
The nice thing about The Quiet American is that it looks very very pretty and gives us a great image and view of Vietnam before everything started getting a little hay-wire. This was actually filmed in Vietnam so it gave me that real time and feeling that served this material very well, and when you look at a big ocean with little boats with lights, it’s nothing more than a just a very pretty screen saver pic for your computer.
However, if only the actual story and writing did the looks some justice. First off, the film totally ruins itself within the first 10 minutes because it shows Pyle dead and it’s basically assumed that there was some sort of love triangle going on with these three. So basically for the next hour-and-a-half we are left wondering just how big of a role Fowler actually played in Pyle’s death and what lead to everything. In some movies, this actually works well, but here, not at all.
Another problem with this film is that the writing is pretty crappy with the script sometimes going from this love-triangle to the problems in Vietnam with France. This constant going back-and-forth between stories and themes bothered me as I didn’t know what the film was trying to get across other than the metaphor of Phuong actually representing Vietnam, that the film was bashing me over the head with.
Speaking of Phuong, what the hell was so amazing about this girl that made these two practically fall in love, fight, and almost die for? The whole film she is just there to sit and look pretty, spouting out incomplete sentences and being a face that looks pretty familiar honestly. I mean these guys could have gotten a million girls in Vietnam, but what was so special about this chick? That was never really answered and then the film went so low as to try and get me to root on Fowler as he was trying to divorce his wife. When the hell has divorce for the sake of being with some Vietnamese mistress been alright? I guess in some cases it is, but this one threw me off a bit.
Michael Caine is actually very powerful as Fowler, and is probably what makes this film watchable in a way. He got nominated for an Oscar here, and with good reason because his character isn’t likable or even morally attracting at all, but something about Caine just draws you into him the whole film. Caine’s character goes through many transitions and he makes them all seem believable and draw you into Fowler.
Brendan Fraser also stepped away from his usual goofy roles to play Pyle here and is actually pretty good. We never know what his full intention’s are but the whole time we wonder just what will Pyle end up being at the end of the film and that mystery is what kind of drew me into his character. Fraser plays a pretty nerdy guy and then gets dark real quick, but still makes it seem very believable and it’s a good thing that he doesn’t get blown away from Caine in the end.
Consensus: Caine and Fraser are very good in The Quiet American but this pretty film suffers from some bad writing, metaphors that are too obvious, and film that is practically spoiled within it’s first 10 minutes and takes you out of the whole film.
Ehh, could have been better.
Kevin Bacon, Forest Whitaker, Brendan Fraser and Sarah Michelle Gellar co-star in this Jieho Lee-directed drama that mines four basic human emotions — love, pleasure, sadness and joy — for cinematic inspiration. A banker discovers true happiness, a mobster finds hope, a celebrity sees life lose its luster and a doctor wrestles with matters of the heart that can’t be addressed within the confines of an operating room.
For me and this film I was expecting so much. I love these kind of inter-twining stories, with a great ensemble, and instead what i got was just mediocre.
The film is directed by Jieho Lee, who is all known for his crazy Japanese music videos, and you can tell this is a directorial debut just by the sloppiness of the film. The writing isn’t top-notched but isn’t terrible. Some lines I heard were cheesy, and weren’t believable, but the philosophical beliefs of these four themes are what were interesting to see play out in this film. The most interesting story in the beginning, is honestly the best, but then is cut so short. Why this happened?? Needed more time for great lines belched out by Brenden Fraser.
The random tastes of humor that jumped in and out of this film actually kind of threw me off cause I was confused on whether or not to take this film seriously, or take it seriously. The stories start to get a little less interesting by the third story, because they lost the emotional flair that the first two had.
The one thing that did it for me was the great performances from its cast. Whitaker for as long as he’s in the film does a great job and actually brings the whole heart to this film, more than you could think. Fraser is OK, I guess, but i couldn’t quite take him seriously as this big and tough mobster, because the whole time I was thinking about George of The Jungle. The best performance here surprisingly is Sarah Michelle Gellar who actually gives a knock-out performance as her talented and socially disturbed pop-star who makes some scenes that could have came out as corny, actually believable.
Consensus: The Air I Breathe tries hard to be something its not, with its not so creative inter-twining plot, and use of different methods of screenplay writing, but is saved by its enchanting performances from its cast.