Filmed on location in Hoover, Alabama: When did Han Solo get so old and where exactly is he taking my dry cleaner?
NYT: Crossing Over, Thorny Path of Immigration, Post 9/11
When it comes to politics and the big screen, American filmmakers tend to fall into two camps, the grossly exploitative and the earnestly instructive. On the earnestly instructive side are well-intentioned downers and uppers like “Grand Canyon”…
Stop right there. Stop right there. If this is going where I think…
…and their lower-budget equivalents, like “The Visitor” and “Frozen River,” which offer prescriptive lessons in tolerance. On the grossly exploitative are those films, like Wayne Kramer’s “Crossing Over,” that deliver their sanctimony with less hand-wringing and more fist-shaking, complete with lurid violence and, for no real narrative reason, periodically bared female flesh.
Okay okay okay. Now that I know I don’t have to watch a rehash of what was arguably the most sanctimonious cast ever assembled teaching me about the serendipity of thousands of small, wondrous connections that bring everyday people together in the So Cal wasteland, I’m still listening. Not that I’m exactly keen on the “grossly exploitative,” but as long as lurid violence and narratively extraneous flesh are all that’s being forced on me (which I regard as an assault nonetheless) instead of new-agey liberal overreach (which, because I’m a liberal, I feel borders on battery), I can hang. For a while at least.
In general, the grossly exploitative flicks tend to be more entertaining or at least bearable than the earnestly instructive variant.
[singsong] Thank you. [/singsong] So it looks like what we have here is something like Crash (the self-righteous one, not the one that’ll really fucking blow your mind*) meets Lethal Weapon meets Babel meets Lethal Weapon 2 meets Traffic. In short, some mindless action helps the lecture go down. Yipeee!!! So where am I going with this, except to invent an excuse to once more decry the existence of Grand Canyon? Good question. It’s still some nebulous thing in my head, but I think it has to do with the message of popular cinema staying in time with the political pendulum (maybe a note or two behind). Or, to put it another way:
Reagan : Iron Eagle :: Clinton : Independence Day
Bush 43 : Bad Boys II :: Obama : (outcome pending)
If either this schematic or the title of this post makes any sense at all to you, I think we have some things to talk about.
To be continued.
* I mean this shit was censored in Europe!
Filed under: Film, Geeking Out, I Call Bullsh*t, I'm an aesthete. Sue me.