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I have to wonder if I'm in anti- Crash territory when absent on the site is a review of the initial DVD release and present are heated discussions in the forums about it's inferiority to Brokeback Mountain. My personal take on the matter is that most people cannot objectively compare the films without comparing the social agendas contained within them. Audience's love/hate relationship with Crash was only worsened when the film took home the Oscar for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, a victory that I was cheering on. I must confess, I was an instant fan of this gem on opening weekend when it was playing in less than 200 theatres. A little over a month later, it would be projected onto nearly 2,000 screens by a slowly building hype and word of mouth. Oddly enough, the last two sentences can also be said about Brokeback Mountain, but I ramble.

Crash: Director's Cut

Feature


(first line of the film)
"It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something."

To give a thorough plot synopsis for Crash would be to spoil the film, entirely. The line above should give you a fair idea of what the picture is about. Where many movies on racism deal primarily with black and white relations, Crash takes a more encompassing view at post 9/11 America by trying to paint a picture with a larger ethnic brush. Think back to Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing and you'll have a film in the same ballpark as Crash. although drastically different in style and presentation. Just like in Do the Right Thing , there are no heroes in Crash and there are few villains that are entirely villainous. Another similarity is that they both (mostly) focus on the events of one life-changing day, from morning to night.

What interests me about Crash is how different the impressions are that it leaves on people. I've had friends gawk at the ending for being too happy and neatly tied up. When I watch the film, I see no happy ending as the characters still carry the same racist views, the same hatred in their hearts. As the day ends, I believe the viewer isn't supposed to see a happy ending, so much as a hopeful ending. Nothing is guaranteed that these characters will try to live their lives without racism, but we should hope that they will. This is where I applaud Crash, for being an inspiring picture that in it's own way, is a message for tolerance.

Crash: Director's Cut
A good heart and noble message aren't enough to win a film an Oscar, so what else could've made Crash so great? Writer/director Paul Haggis has filled his movie with one of the most amazing ensemble casts in years, several going against their own typecast. My favourite duo of the movie was Brendan Fraser as the district attorney of L.A. and his incredibly racist wife, Sandra Bullock, both in surprisingly great performances. After those Mummy and Ms. Congeniality flicks, I had completely forgotten that these two could actually play the edgier roles when given the chance.

The director's cut includes an insert featuring a word from director/writer/editor Paul Haggis. His opening line is "It is difficult to call this a director's cut..." He is absolutely right; it's difficult to even call this film an extended cut, although that would've been more fitting. How much more do we get here? Brace yourself; you get a whopping two minutes of additional footage. Beware; if you don't have the theatrical cut fresh in mind while watching this, the added material will easily slip you by. Haggis continues in his insert that he feels he cut the theatrical print a "tad too tight"... and this footage loosens things up? I can't say for sure, but I'm hoping Lionsgate threw Haggis a roll of twenty's and said "give us a director's cut DVD, this film is about to get nominated for best picture." I also can't figure out why this DVD isn't more extended than it is, having eight deleted scenes housed on the second disc, several of which I would've liked to have seen in the film.

In conclusion of my thoughts on the disc's feature, Crash is a great film with or without these nearly-pointless two minutes of added footage. The question of why they were cut is almost as arbitrary as the question of why they were added back in. Nonetheless, the feature is great.

Video


Just like with last go-around, Crash is presented in 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen and looks just as good as you would expect a Best Picture winner to look. The video is very sharp and its colours were vivid and bright. For a low-budget film, Crash looks exquisite at all times of the day, in all types of lighting. I couldn't think of a better film to give such a great transfer to, as Crash is visual eye candy all by itself (transfer aside), from it's out-of-focus transition shots to the cinematography of L.A. at night.

Crash: Director's Cut

Audio


This disc gets it right, to say the least. The audio of Crash is just as impressive as its video. Take your pick from 6.1 DTS-ES (pick that one!), 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX, 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2.0 Dolby Digital. The extended surround sound track absolutely puts you inside the film. The atmospheric and ambient score by Mark Isham flows from all tracks gorgeously as do the sound effects. Dialogue came mostly from the centre channels, never becoming difficult to pick apart from the other sounds. Crash sounded good last time but those tracks don't come close to what we're given here. Be proud, Lionsgate... you did good.

Extras


This is most likely where you're going to get your money's worth as the initial DVD release was intellectually bare, despite a promotional featurette among other items. The only thing you're going to miss from that disc is the theatrical cut's commentary which is nearly the same as this commentary, only a little less humorous. Both commentaries feature Paul Haggis, producer Bob Moresco, and actor Don Cheadle.

The first entirely new feature is a handful of eight deleted scenes, which I have quarrel with. The first deleted scene is actually about six seconds of new footage padded with over two minutes of footage from the movie. Why did we get the entire scene rather than just the new six seconds? This is the story of several other deleted scenes. They come with commentary and several of which, despite Haggis' argument, should've been left in the film. One of them even shows us a relationship between two characters that both cuts of the film don't reveal.

Crash: Director's Cut
Next up is ‘Behind the Metal and Glass’, a making of Crash feature. It runs nearly half an hour in length and gives more information than you're typical ‘talking heads’ featurette. We get a fair balance of interviews from both the cast and crew on the production, focusing due attention of the movie's conception. Overall, this is an entertaining and informative feature.

‘On Paul Haggis’ is five minutes of said director telling his story of coming to Hollywood and his journey to getting the movie made. Haggis isn't exactly the most charming personality to watch expound upon the film, but he has good things to say. If it doesn't bore you to death, this feature can give you insight on the director's life.

‘L.A.: The Other Main Character’ is a very interesting feature about the setting of Crash. Narrated by actress Thandie Newton, a good mix of filmmakers and city personnel, including the mayor, talk about the condition of L.A. The cast and crew point out how Los Angeles isn't the city of unimaginable wealth, as it's often portrayed in films and on television... but rather a city of gigantic social boundaries. Everyone who speaks here brings interesting commentary to the table. Overall this is a very informative and thought-provoking feature, especially for someone like me who's yet to venture to L.A.

‘Unspoken’ is a feature concentrating on what the movie says about racism, that's often left unsaid by being a country of political correctness. This is where I realized the cast weren't just treating this as another acting gig, but had actually invested themselves into the message of Crash. Sandra Bullock, Ryan Philipe, and even Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges have some really strong ideas on the film to say here. At eleven minutes, this is a very enjoyable feature.

Now for the small items, a music video by Bird York is actually nothing more than clips from the film set to music. The singer makes no appearance in the video and ultimately, I felt cheated by this. We have two music montages which are pretty self-explanatory. Also included is a script to screen comparison and a storyboard to screen comparison (previously available as a bonus disc if you bought the original Crash from Best Buy.)

Crash: Director's Cut

Overall


I have no faults with Crash, which may show my faults as a reviewer. Aside from the misleading title of director's cut, this is a superb release of the film. There's more than enough material here to warrant an upgrade from technical quality to bonus materials.


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