By Marc S. Sanders

In 1998, Elmore Leonard’s best-selling novel, Out Of Sight, was adapted by director Steven Soderbergh, where Federal Marshall Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez) falls in lust with Bank Robber Jack Foley (George Clooney), which leads to ridiculous, albeit logical set ups as a high stakes diamond heist is planned along the way.

I know years after Steven Soderbergh’s film was released an ABC tv series based on the Sisco character was produced. That was a misfire. Simply because the beautiful, sexy and most importantly under appreciated and intuitive portrayal that Lopez mastered was a role that could have led to another great film franchise of sequels to come. Carla Gugino played author Leonard’s heroine in the tv show. If you are saying “Carla who?” then ‘Nuff said. Sisco belongs to Jennifer Lopez.

Lopez and Clooney have great chemistry amid gorgeous cinematography on location in sun filled Miami and snow blanketed Detroit. Soderbergh shoots a great scene midway through where the two characters, on opposite sides of the law, throw caution out the door as they seduce each other in front of a hotel window view boasting beautiful midnight blue sprinkled with falling snow. It is one cool and very hot scene.

Sisco is always a step ahead of Foley. Her problem arises when after being held hostage by him in the trunk of her car following his escape from prison…well, she just can’t resist him.

My apologies. Out Of Sight is a far better film than I could describe here thanks also to a boastful cast featuring Dennis Farina, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle (how many films has he done with Clooney?), Steve Zahn, Albert Brooks (simply great as a hairpiece wearing white collar criminal), Michael Keaton (two Batmans in a film for the price of one) and finally a master of cameos reserved for a smirk inducing final scene. Make an educated guess of who I could be talking about.

Lopez and Clooney should have done more films together over the years. They are as classic a couple as Tracey & Hepburn, Beatty & Dunaway, Hanks & Ryan or Gere & Roberts.

This was a gem of a movie I mistakenly found boring when I saw it in theatres. What was I thinking? On a second viewing, 20 years later, I laughed, smiled and just couldn’t take my eyes off it. It’s just great fun.

Without Out Of Sight, Soderbergh, Clooney and Company would probably never have made an Ocean’s 11. Check out what became before their more successful collaborations to come.


By Marc S. Sanders

I think the Civil War chapter must be one of the best installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The action ranging from fight scenes to car chases to shootouts and explosions are so well executed and edited.

This film lives up to what makes each Marvel character special in their own way, and while most of the attention is naturally focused on Chris Evans’ Captain America and Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier (aka Bucky), the large cast is respectively given numerous moments to shine individually with well-conceived backgrounds and traits beyond just their superpowers.

Interestingly, until the late scene where all the characters collide against one another, the film was very shy of any intentional humor and focused more on what is morally correct in this fantasy world. There was a debate to grapple with, and a threat to both sides of the moral compass. All good layered dimensions, my favorite vice of effective storytelling.

Anyone who says popcorn movies like Avengers are nothing more and simply brainless would fail at recognizing good analysis and dimension. More often than not the MCU succeeds at setting up a dilemma to keep a viewer hooked. Once they are taken…then the storytellers will do something bold like destroy the headquarters, or an airport, or a whole city or Iron Man’s armor, and on and on. Too many other franchises (Transformers, Fast/Furious or DC) bring the buildings down before the cement is dry and the windows are Windexed. That’s when story is neglected for showmanship. There’s no weight to the loss. What do I care who died? You just destroyed the village in order to save it. Disney and Marvel know this and steer clear of those habits.

The cast is so perfectly assembled in Civil War. They interact very well with line exchanges, debates and fisticuffs.

Much of this film was a blur during my first viewing. These are Marvel movies. There are so many now, the scenes all seem to blend together. Yet now I see this particular film is special. Good set pieces, costumes, makeup, visual effects and great performances lead to a great, fun presentation. I’m sold.


By Marc S. Sanders

The character of Ultron, a terrorizing cyborg, has been a favorite Marvel Comics villain of mine ever since I discovered him in 1984 during the Secret Wars 12 issue limited run. He looked sinister with a devilish face in the shape of a metallic claw. His sonic blasts appeared more destructive than anything else ever drawn on the page. Ultron was a badass!!! (“Language!”). That being said, the cinematic interpretation is quite different, yet he’s modeled on a much more grown up sculpt.

Ultron is still a terrorist bent on utter destruction, but now he has a disregard for man. He’s written quite inventively as a direct contradiction to arguably the favorite of all the Marvel cinematic characters, Iron Man aka Tony Stark. How fitting that James Spader is cast opposite his former brat pack cast mate (Less Than Zero), Robert Downey, Jr. It is really uncanny how the dialect of Spader’s limitless Ultron can sound just like Downey’s genius Stark but with a means of annihilation; “All of you against all of me.” Ultron is smart first, powerful second. He’s not just a monochromatic android. There’s a means to his end and an inventive science to his purpose; uproot a country high in the sky and then DROP IT BACK DOWN INTO THE PLANET, like an anvil flattening Wile E. Coyote. It’s actually more novel than I’m giving it credit for.

Most Marvel afficianados from the blogs, and fellow colleagues as well, do not care much for this chapter in the MCU. I have yet to understand why. Again, each character is really drawn out beautifully by Joss Whedon with a respective storyline. Finally, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye is given some oomph to his back story. So is Paul Bettany as the other cyborg, Vision, formerly J.A.R.V.I.S, the artificial intelligence.

Vision/J.A.R.V.I.S. outshines Data (“Star Trek: TNG,” apologies to my friend, Jim Johnson), but will never top C-3PO. I like how he’s introduced as an amalgamation of all of the film’s main characters’ abilities. Bruce Banner and Tony Stark, Thor, Ultron, Scarlet Witch, some brilliant doctor friend, and even the nation of Wakanda. They all have a piece of themselves in Vision. It’s a better story than the comics ever suggested. Maybe I’m biased having grown up on these stories, but the Vision element makes me want to clap every time I see it. So inventive and economically told for a two-hour film with a ginormous cast. Vision’s introduction is one of the best scenes in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

A great device to unhinge most of the Avengers comes through by means of Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch (identified as Wanda Maximoff) who cripples them with mind control. How else should a sorceress take out a whole lotta muscle? It works and it gives Olsen conflict to play with. The visual effects surrounding her are also pretty cool. Sure, it might be just some neon red mist, but the cinematography and CGI surrounding her look gorgeous.

This installment also serves as neat set up for what’s to come. Quick Easter Egg in Age Of Ultron: Tony Stark Name drops the term “Endgame.” Oooooooo!!!!!!

It is really admirable what Marvel and Disney have done with the MCU, and especially watching this film. It’s ironic how filmmaker James Cameron made a statement hoping for “Avengers fatigue” so the phenomenon can die down in movie houses, etc. Funny! For me, seeing all of Ultron’s toys and wit seemed to outshine quite a bit of the residuals spawned from Cameron’s Terminator franchise.

Whedon wrote and directed a film with much more intelligence, wit, at least as much action, and threat than I ever got from Cameron’s reputation of clunky dialogue and plot hole time travel storytelling. It would do Mr. Cameron well to maybe not throw stones at the glass Avengers towers. I’m skeptical that his upcoming FOUR Avatar films will carry the smirk inducing cues the MCU has used to its advantage.


By Marc S. Sanders

Boogie Nights was director Paul Thomas Anderson’s second feature following a very different and very quiet film debut with the gambling addiction piece Hard Eight.

Heck, it’s fair to say all of Paul’s films are very different; here is the seediness of porn while later in his career he will focus on the ruthlessness of a wealthy and angry oil man and then an obsessed dressmaker devoid of care for the models who parade his accomplishments. (See There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread.). Paul was definitely striving for recognition with his familial depiction of life in the California pornographic film industry.

What I’ve always liked about Boogie Nights was Anderson’s intent to show the naive innocence of this large cast of characters. Filming blatantly oblivious awful porn scenarios can still be regarded as very proud efforts by its talent.

The main character is Eddie Adams (aka the amazing Dirk Diggler) played with macho pathos by Mark Wahlberg. It’ll likely be the best role of Wahlberg’s entire career. Dirk is proud of his natural talent in front of the camera. He’s even more proud of what God has gifted him. Don Cheadle is another porn star named Buck. He’s also proud of his accomplishments and simply a kind fellow looking to make country cowboy a trendy look for a black man while selling the “Hi-est Fidelity” in stereo equipment on the side. Julianne Moore is Amber Waves, the maternal porn mom of the bunch; very affectionate, very comforting and very reassuring when Dirk shoots his first porn scene. The one individual who really holds all of these misfits together is Burt Reynolds as Jack Horner, the porn film director. He’s the paternal one who believes in his artistic merits of shooting porn but with a story, and only with the integrity of film, and never the cheapness of videotape. So, Jack is like any artist who insists on a certain type of canvas. It might be smut, but he has principles, and he has pride.

Anderson is wise in how he divides up the developments. The film begins in the late 1970s during evening night life and decadence and everything seems fine and innocent and right despite the endless debauchery of reckless sex and drug use on a Disco backdrop. Wahlberg’s character is welcomed lovingly into this world, and nothing appears wrong. It all seems to stay that way for Dirk until New Year’s Eve, 1979. The 80s begin with a gunshot and then Anderson’s cast must pay for the revelry of their sins. A great moment presented on this night is where Amber Waves introduces Dirk to cocaine. Dirk has been thriving, making money, developing a following and now it is jeopardized in one moment thanks to his naivety. Julianne Moore is superb in this particular scene against Wahlberg. She’s the mentor with the peer pressure to pass on her high and keep it running.

Drug addiction, violence, sexual abuse and even changes in pop culture lead to hard times for these likable people.

It’s a hard life. It’s a complicated life. Yet it’s not all necessarily illegal. Morally, it might appear wrong, but it’s a life nonetheless.

Anderson was wise to use (at the time, relatively new) filming techniques of Martin Scorsese with rocking period music and fast edits along with savored moments of great steady cam work. One long cut especially works when the film first begins on the streets of Reseda and on into a crowded night club. This industry doesn’t sleep. So, neither will the camera that follows it. The music must also be celebrated. I do not listen to Night Ranger’s Sister Christian without thinking of firecrackers and a dangerously drug addled Alfred Molina playing Russian roulette. Though I know which came first, I also wonder if Three Dog Night’s Momma Told Me Not To Come and Spill The Wine by Eric Burton & War was written to enhance the celebratory introduction for Dirk when he attends his first party at Jack’s house. It’s another great steady cam moment from a driveway, followed by steps in and out of Jack’s house to simply a bikinied girl’s dive in the swimming pool. As a viewer I was absorbed in the California haze. Superior camera work here.

The cast of unknowns at the time were a blessing to this film. Anderson writes each person with care and attention and dimension. They have lives outside of this world like Amber’s child that we never get to meet, thanks in part to her lifestyle. She might be maternal but that doesn’t make her a good mother. Julianne Moore should have won the Oscar she was nominated for. Burt Reynolds’ own legacy seems to carry his role. His distinguished silver hair and well trimmed beard earn him the respect of every cast member and he performs with a quiet grace of knowledge, and insight, even if he will inevitably be wrong with how things turn out. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays the dumb kid Scotty insecure and unsure of his homosexual attraction to Dirk. It’s not easy to play a dumb character when you are not doing it for laughs. Hoffman makes a huge impact with little dialogue but Anderson is wise enough to capitalize on him.

Boogie Nights offers one of the best cast of characters and assembled talents in any film ever made. An individual movie could be made about each of these people, and it’d be interesting and entertaining.

Try to avoid a blush and mock at the industry depicted because then you’ll see how another walk of life truly lives day to day. It might be porn. It might be smut. Yet, it’s still a thriving industry.


By Marc S. Sanders

The third chapter of the armored superhero, Iron Man, is an improvement on the second installment. Still, that’s not much of a compliment.

Action director Shane Black takes the reins from Jon Faverau, and gives himself a writing credit as well. I’ve always liked Shane Black’s writing style. Like this film, a lot of his works take place during Christmas. Lethal Weapon is a well-balanced picture that over thirty years later shows a nice offering of character background and action. When the action occurs, you are already invested in the characters. So, suspense is capable of holding some weight to an action movie. I only wish I saw some more of that here with Iron Man 3. Oh well!

First, let’s get the most obvious problem out of the way. Once again, Gwyneth Paltrow is there to wear sharp looking ladies suits, carry a brief in her hand and yell “TONY” a lot. You could make up a drinking game around that bit. Just when the Marvel films got it right with Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger, they revert back to their old ways yet again. If you are going to have female characters in your films, give them something weighty to work with that is evenly matched with the guys.

Robert Downey Jr is another problem, I’m afraid. He is so cherished in the role of Tony Stark by now. The first Iron Man really offers a great performance by him with a good arc. The prior film in the MCU, The Avengers gives him some great play with the other titanic superheroes. However, the writing is not thoughtful in Iron Man 2 or Iron Man 3. The first installment left you feeling that Tony was open to accepting care and tenderness from other people. His cockiness became subdued following a traumatic capture and escape.

Then the cocky monster within seemed to resurface in #2 and #3. Did Downey (who improvises a lot of his material) and the writers forget where they left off? Black literally has Tony Stark give away his address on live television to the bad guys, headed by a mysterious terrorist known as The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). How stupid is this? Batman doesn’t give away where his Bat Cave is. Why would Iron Man do that?

From that point, we are treated to an attack on Tony’s ocean view, cliff side home from helicopters. Reader, Shane Black wrote a sequence like this twice before, in Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2. It’s been done before. The filming appears clunky in this centerpiece scene with camera shakes and uneven sound editing and lots of ceiling and wall dust. It’s a little hard to follow.

I’ll give credit to Black for throwing in a twist that comes out of nowhere. To my knowledge, this moment has left viewers very divisive. For me, I admire the effort but the development comes off wimpy. It involves Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin who promises to be a real threat to the film. Yet, the character’s motive turns out to be something else entirely. It’s odd, but it kept me engaged during the film. When the film ended, I was left wishing it was something else altogether. For the first two thirds of the film, Kingsley is very good with a hard, edged, roughly intimidating voice as he shares disturbing newscasts of threats to the President and the world. He was a different kind of villain that we hadn’t seen before, much like Heath Ledger’s Joker. Then the rug is pulled out on that attraction.

One really bright spot comes from Ty Simkins, as a kid named Harley that winds up assisting Tony when everything is against him. He is a fun, spunky kid who has some good exchanges with Downey’s well recognized, zippy delivery. He’s more fun to watch than Gwenyth Paltrow. That’s for sure.

Guy Pearce is another adversary who leads a team of baddies. Their bodies heat up to extremely hot and orange looking temperatures. (Forgive my poor English! That’s what comes to mind. Oh well!) Amazingly enough, their clothes don’t burn off while they easily can singe any Iron Man suit they come in contact with. Should I be focusing on that inconsistency? That’s one main problem with the film. It’s too apparent. I know this is all sci fi, but don’t make the fiction of the fiction so obvious, please. Pearce is fine in the role but he’s overshadowed by what his super villain powers are capable of. So, basically cast iron metal burns, but clothing fabrics do not. Got it! Check!

I’m not sure if Iron Man 3 is really worth a watch. Probably not, actually. Maybe so, if you want to marathon through all the Marvel films like I do. Yet, it really offers nothing significant to the films yet to come and shows nothing new to carry forward from the prior films. Much like Iron Man 2, it’s a pretty meaningless.


By Marc S. Sanders

Iron Man 2 is a Frankenstein’s Monster of a film. Director Jon Favreau returns, but not with the same insight he invested into the first Iron Man. This loud, headache inducing sequel is an assemblage of cutting room floor scenes taped together to mask itself as a cohesive narrative brought to life. The movie exists. Yet it has no brain.

Six months have passed since the events of the first film, and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is ready to open his peace parade Expo in New York. The problems begin here. Stark, who redeemed himself as a born-again, eyes open martyr at the end of the first film, reverts to an obnoxious jerk full of brash, rude cockiness. Downey goes so over the top with his improvisational one liners that you can hardly stand Tony Stark, and this is all before he gets drunk and pees in the Iron Man suit.

Stark is experiencing rapid blood toxicity from the suit and he is unable to find a solution. I might have been concerned at first but after the film is over, the convenient remedy just made me feel cheated. Poor writing offers a convenient get of jail free card.

Then there is Stark’s relationship with his friend Rhodey (Don Cheadle). Cheadle shows potential in the part he resumed from Terrance Howard, but he really only serves two sole purposes, to have an armor throw down with Tony throughout the mansion (a stupid fight by the way), and to wear the new War Machine armor. That, I’ll say is pretty cool in charcoal black with red eyes and a shoulder resting machine gun.

Gwenyth Paltrow is back as Pepper Potts, and she just kvetches a lot. Paltrow and Downey’s chemistry are all but gone. Not really the actors’ fault though. More so, it’s the dumb screenplay by Justin Theroux who I guess found it adorable for the two players to squabble amid the action scenes. It’s rather annoying actually.

Theroux makes a lot of misfires here. The great Mickey Rourke appears to have fleshed out a great villain known as Whiplash. A Russian physicist with a grudge against Stark. Rourke offers a scary appearance of long hair, gold teeth and a tattooed muscular body. Oh, and he has a cockatoo as well. Mustn’t forget that. Too much of this film is devoted to this bird that does nothing. Whiplash is insufficiently written. He has a mid-film battle with Stark at the Grand Prix in Monaco, then following a prison escape, he’s harbored by Stark competitor, Justin Hammer, in a factory where he does nothing but build robots. None of this is interesting.

Sam Rockwell plays Hammer as a whiny kid in nerdy glasses and even nerdier three piece suits. He’s not a villain you ever love. He’s a Frank Burns, but his stupidity against Stark and Rourke’s character offers no humor from the stooge that he is.

Side stories focus on anticipation towards the first Avengers film with Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, yet not much is offered. They have nothing to do with anything else going on in this hodgepodge. Johansson finally gets a good fight scene during the climax, but it remains brief.

So there’s really nothing in Iron Man 2. It’s just a mix of things smashed together. The Iron Man suit only has three scenes, one to open the Expo (no fight there), one to have drunk Tony Stark fight with Rhodey while wrecking his house (Belushi did it better in Animal House, as well as the cast of Sixteen Candles), and then finally in a climactic ending against Hammer’s military robots and Rourke’s Whiplash who hardly participates in the moment.

Iron Man 2 is likely my least favorite of all the MCU films. (Actually, Eternals took that top honor, recently.) It offers one redeeming quality and that’s its end credit scene, maybe my favorite of that particular category.

Otherwise, Iron Man 2 is pointless, dumb, ignorant of its product, and flat out obnoxious.

Stan Lee Cameo: Was that Larry King? Really?


By Miguel E. Rodriguez

Directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, etcetera, etcetera…
My Rating: 10/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 96% Certified Fresh

PLOT: After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War, the universe is in ruins. With help from some of their remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more to try to undo Thanos’ actions.

I have tried several different drafts of this review, and I simply am unable to write a decent review without necessarily revealing spoilers.





You have been warned.

For starters, Avengers: Endgame is not my favorite movie in the MCU.  (That title still goes to the incredibly complex, endlessly debatable Captain America: Winter Soldier, the superhero movie for people who hate superhero movies.)  BUT…Endgame contains my single favorite moment in the entire franchise.  It occurs during the climactic battle, and it involves…hardware.  YOU know what I’m talking about.

That aside, while Endgame is a more-than-worthy sendoff for the 11-year-long story arc, and is Hollywood spectacle at its best, I gotta be honest and say that the 3-hour running time was starting to get to me around about the 2-hour mark.  Yes, the plot threads all had to be woven together to bring everything to a head for the ultimate showdown, and I wouldn’t dream of eliminating anything that I saw, but it just was feeling a little slow.

Other than that…it gets all A’s across the board.

  • ACTION – I haven’t seen CGI action on this scale since the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.  Or Avengers: Infinity War, take your pick.  I can only imagine the headaches and nervous breakdowns experienced by the hordes of CGI artists who painstakingly created the outstanding battle scenes.  They were incredibly dense, but I was never unable to see any of the key moments involving key characters.  Nothing was too dark or murky.  It was an event.
  • HUMOR – In spite of the heaviness of the proceedings, the filmmakers never lost sight of their origins: COMIC books.  From the first appearance of Thor in residence at New Asgard, to Stark’s never-ending supply of dry one-liners, to Hulk’s selfie in the diner, the audience is always kept from falling into major depression, even after some really, REALLY dark moments in the story.
  • CLOSURE – The film ends the way it does because it HAD to.  Some of the original actors are just getting too old to do it anymore, folks, that’s just the way it is.  Hugh Jackman hung up his claws on Wolverine because he was getting too old to get into that kind of shape anymore.  And some other actors are just ready to move on.  It’s time.  Regardless, though, the way that certain characters were granted their own particular curtain call…it was IMMENSELY satisfying, not a bit gratuitous, and even noble for everyone involved.  I wasn’t moved to tears myself, but there were audible sniffles in the movie theater.

(I did also REALLY like the abandoned New York cityscapes after we jump ahead in the timeline a little bit.  I’ve always LOVED the concepts of modern edifices and cities left to ruin after abandonment.  That’s one of the reasons I really love I Am Legend.  BUT I DIGRESS.)

So, yes, it’s worth the hype.  They got it right.  It is a fitting final chapter to one of the most amazing cinematic achievements in history.  It IS a little long, but I can get over that.

And I am stoked to see what comes next.

CRASH (2004)

By Marc S. Sanders

Paul Haggis’ vignette themed script for Crash should not have won Best Screenplay. The film he directed should not have won Best Picture. Could it be that because this picture is masked as that special movie with that especially poignant message that it got the recognition I don’t think it ever deserved? I can appreciate the attempt at bringing hot button social issues like racism and injustice to light, but it does not need to be as immaturely contrived as this picture.

Crash occurs over two days within the city of modern day Los Angeles. A select group of characters of different social classes and ethnicities are covered, and the film circumvents back and forth among their perspectives. For the most part, all of these people have major social hang-ups with people outside their race. The first example shows us that if a white woman who is simply cold on a winter night hugs her husband tightly for some warmth, apparently a couple of black men will automatically believe this woman is fearful of their approach.

Especially today, I know that prejudice exists, but to this extreme and this contrived…I’m not sure. I guess I’m not sure because I have not experienced it enough to be convinced yet. When I read a friend’s testimony of falling victim to racial prejudice I lean towards believing everything they tell me. I guess it’s this movie, Crash, that left me feeling dubious and maybe that’s because the circumstances seem way too forced.

A racist cop (Matt Dillon) will pull over a well to do Muslim man (Terrence Howard) driving a high priced SUV and perform a sobriety test for no reason. Then the cop will deliberately frisk the man’s wife (Thandie Newton) with digital penetration. The next day, it’ll just happen to be that this woman will have no choice but to be rescued from a burning car by this same racist cop. Now I’m supposed to believe that the racist cop is not so bad, and the woman learns to become more tolerant. Well gee, thank heavens for coincidences!

The Muslim man (a television show director) gets car jacked the following day, and in a tense pull over moment he’s mistaken as the criminal. Fortunately, the partner of the racist cop (Ryan Phillipe) is there to subdue the situation. I’m sorry, but life doesn’t work out to be this tidy. Call me cynical, but more often than not we are not given a second chance at first impressions.

One of the real car jackers (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) gets a moment of clarity and suddenly he’s generously giving out his last forty dollars to a group of Asian people being held in a van for human trafficking. Forgive me. If I want to begin respecting this car jacker who has held multiple people at gun point and even runs over a man, only to toss him out on the drive up to the Emergency Room, I’ll be more apt to do so if the criminal turns himself in.

I dunno. Maybe I’ve got a personal issue with Crash. It could not be more apparently preachy in how it patronizes me to simply understand the seething hate and criminal violations of its characters. I’m supposed to empathize with the racist cop because his ill father can’t get the health care he’s entitled to? I’m supposed to understand the prejudicial anger that the WASP wife (Sandra Bullock) of a District Attorney (Brendan Frasier) expresses because she no longer trusts her dedicated Hispanic housekeeper or the locksmith (Michael Pena) changing the locks on their house following a car jacking?

No. Paul Haggis didn’t earn that response from me in almost all of the short story scenarios his film offers. Maybe it’s because I tend to compartmentalize my episodes. I like to think that I don’t allow one experience with one kind of person cloud my judgement on the next person I encounter. A waiter can totally screw up my order and can even mouth off to me in a heated moment. Yet, I’ll return to the restaurant on another occasion because it’s likely I’ll run into a different waiter.

Haggis depicts people who appear to have a blanket opinion of other people with different backgrounds. These are all extremely prejudiced people with next to no understanding of where each of them stem from. An angry Persian man (Shaun Toub) puts blame on the locksmith after his convenience store is ransacked. The locksmith was only trying to explain that the back door needed to be replaced. The Persian refused to listen because his English is limited. So he just gets angry and curses the locksmith out. Haggis opts to insert a language barrier between the two men to serve up an eventual tense and dramatic moment in a neighborhood driveway with a loaded gun and a little girl. A loaded gun and a little girl! Yup, I think they teach these are the true ingredients for effective drama on the first day of screenwriting class. Again, it all comes about a little too forced.

The conveniences and ironies that bubble up at times are surprising. “Oh that guy is that guy’s brother! I see.” Things like that. However, I don’t think that is necessarily the strength of the picture.

In a film like Magnolia, we are treated to the vignettes of a handful of people too. However, not every single one of those people are sketched by means of their prejudiced natures. They are drawn by a variety of different elements whether it be a traumatic past or an inclination to do good. Then it’s kind of fun to uncover how each player is connected to one another.

In Crash, the players are only connected by the hate they carry within themselves, and Paul Haggis forces a redemption upon most of them with small gestures or a line of dialogue or the purity of a welcome snowfall to close out the film. Sorry, life is lot more messy and complicated than that. I guess I’m saying I may have learned a lot more about human nature from a downpour of frogs than a downpour of snow.