u Notes from the Underground: My two links on the Oscars

My two links on the Oscars

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

(Er, the title is my attempt at snowclonising an idiom: "my two cents".)

[Note:It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in posession of a good net connection must be downloading and watching a lot of movies. Unsated with such wanton infringement of copyright, such men may also proceed to further fritter away their time by reading others opinions on the said movies, or worse, proffer their own unsolicited opinions and betray their philistinism. It can be of little doubt that you are currently perusing such a gentleman's journal; let it not, therefore, be said that you were not forewarned.]

[Note2: Obvious links not provided; benefits not apparent enough to me, at 2 in the morning]

Here is some polemic on why Crash is simplistic to the point of delusion. (Link via Daniel Drezner)

Cowritten by Haggis and Robert Moresco, "Crash" directly contradicts what we know about how race plays out in the U.S. today, not just in Los Angeles, but all over. In the name of Big Drama, it ignores the chilling effect of political correctness, which compels everyone who's not a fringe-dwelling hatemonger or a person pushed to the edge of his or her rope to express racist thoughts in code.

Ignoring this psychological given, "Crash" is set in Archie Bunker World, a nostalgic land where race is at the forefront of every consciousness during every minute of every day, where elaborately worded slurs are loaded into everyone's speech centers like bullets in a gun, ready to be fired at the instant that disrespect is given. The characters are anachronistic cartoons posing as symbols of contemporary distress.

You dont need to live in the US to have your bullshit alarms going off many times during the movie. It just feels too slick and, at times, cloyingly ironic.

[Update: Evidently, even Google was very disappointed with Crash winning best movie. Image from this Language Log post. I wish these dudes would post less often, its just too good to miss.]

Brokeback Mountain, while being cinematically perfect, doesnt sustain your interest well in the latter half. The real reason why it didnt win Best Picture is left for Tyler Cowen to explain:
Hollywood controls system, not fixed but rigged to favor picture with greatest elasticity of profits with respect to favorable publicity. Too many people won't see BBM, plus fear that Hollywood looks out of touch, Crash!
Would that be why Titanic won so many Oscars?

Also watched "Pride and Prejudice". I feel that the greatest joy of reading Jane Austen comes not from her plot (which always ends happily, a minus in my book), but from her wonderful sentences and the superbly witty conversations between the characters. (The note at the start of the blog, btw, was a pathetic attempt at some Austen pastiche.) That means that I lost out on a whole lot of the experience of reading the book, but the movie has its own compensations as well. You get to see drawn-out chapters in the book compressed into short, torrid scenes where the leads come perilously close to kissing each other(gasp!). You lose out on the sentences but you have the challenge of processing the characters' utterances in real time. (Consider this dialogue that Matt Macfadyen, playing Mr. Darcy, delivers in said torrid scene : "Perhaps these offences might have been overlooked had not your pride been hurt by my honesty in admitting scruples about our relationship.") The movie has a smooth, taut pace that is very resonant of the way the book itself reads. A downside of a movie adaptation is that the story feels a tad too real: you dont want the characters to be so literally shown, you realise you liked them best when they were in that semi-crystallised state, as comfortably disembodied souls. Once you go back to the book, you feel cheated that your own mind's eye movie is so much more different, and (out of what? just childish stubbornness?) you grant greater authenticity to your own pallid mental images.


At 8:56 AM, March 17, 2006, Blogger Narasimhan said...

Dear Venu,

I recently saw crash (after it won best picture oscar) and I agree with the polemic.

With its constant reference racial connotations in every frame it really ridicules the importance of this important element.

It is ironical that a movie that went way overboard about the political correctness got the oscar for the exact same political correctness.

With Regards

PS: Your comments in the other india blog along with comments of Srinivas, Naveen and Kuffir make it eminently readable for just the comment section.

At 1:54 PM, March 17, 2006, Anonymous Venu said...


Crash won the oscar because it went overboard with its correctness, imo. It was a tussle btwn what was more correct, brokeback or crash, (and also which movie would generate more revenues: see the quote from Tyler Cowen in the post).

And about theOtherIndia, thanks.


At 11:42 PM, March 19, 2006, Blogger Gubbi said...

I for one, liked the movie and think it's worthier than the gay bullshit BBM [couldn't even make me watch it completely].

At 12:04 AM, March 20, 2006, Blogger Venu said...

:-). I agree that Crash doesnt bore you anywhere, while there's a fair chance that BBM will bore you in the latter half. I didnt find BBM extra-special, but I must confess that my headphones were bad and I couldnt get many of the dialogues. Here's an article that makes some unflattering points about BBM, if it makes you happy. :-)


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