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Crash

Review Written by: Will Penley
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: B+/B+/B-

Directed by: Paul Haggis
Written by: Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco
Produced by: Paul Haggis, Robert Moresco, Don Cheadle, Mark R. Harris, Cathy Schulman and Bob Yari
Starring: Don Cheadle, Jennifer Esposito, Larenz Tate, Chris Bridges, Matt Dillon, Ryan Phillippe, Terrence Howard
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!

Robert Altman did it with Short Cuts, P.T. Anderson did it with Magnolia and now writer and director Paul Haggis (of Million Dollar Baby fame) has done it with the best film of 2005, Crash. Dealing with racial issues of all kinds, Crash was critically praised when it hit theaters in the spring of '05 and rightly so. Like Short Cuts and Magnolia, Crash follows many different people over the course of a few days as we watch in awe at the astounding events and wildly coincidental intersections the characters have with each other.

Graham Waters (Don Cheadle in an amazing performance) is a black police detective in Los Angeles who works closely with his Hispanic girlfriend, Ria (Jennifer Esposito). Graham's mother is a druggie and his younger brother Peter (Larenz Tate) is a car thief. Also in the carjacking business is Anthony (Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges) who is constantly theorizing on society and race.

Jack Ryan (Matt Dillon) is a racist veteran cop who cares for his sick father at home. His partner, Tommy Hanson (Ryan Phillippe), is more idealistic than Jack and is uncomfortable with his partner's issue with other races. One night, the two officers have a run-in with black Hollywood director Cameron Thayer (Terrence Howard) and his wife Christine (Thandie Newton), a white woman.

Also involved in this complicated little tale are distracted district attorney Rick Cabot (Brendan Fraser) and his bitter, pampered wife Jean (Sandra Bullock), Hispanic locksmith Daniel (Michael Pena) and Persian-immigrant shop owner Farhad (Shaun Toub).

This is an absolutely fantastic film. It has great acting, great direction and one of the best scripts in a long time (if this doesn't get the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, I am suing), which is why Crash is my pick for the best film of 2005. A very enthusiastic A+ for the film. Lions Gate has provided us with a good, though lacking in bonus features, DVD release for Crash. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen video looks very good on this DVD. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track serves the film very well, with all the dialogue and atmospheric sounds of Los Angeles very clear and sounding really well. B+ for the video and the audio.

Extras are pretty sparse on this disc, but let's take a look at what we do get. First up, there's a brief introduction to the film by writer/director Paul Haggis. Next on the disc is a very funny, very entertaining audio commentary by Haggis, actor Don Cheadle and producer Bobby Moresco (who helped Haggis write the screenplay). This is a great commentary and well worth a listen. There's a brief behind-the-scenes featurette also included, which is pretty much promotional fluff. Rounding out the disc is a music video for Kansascali's "If I", along with a series of trailers for other Lions Gate films (surprise, surprise, a trailer for Crash is not included). The great commentary brings this DVD's extras grade up to a B-, but it would have been much lower without it.

Though there aren't a vast amount of extras on the disc, I highly recommend that you buy this DVD, solely based on the film's content. You won't regret it. (Editor's Note: Lions Gate will probably release a special edition DVD in the future, so fans of special features might want to wait for a bit. However, if you buy Crash at Best Buy, an extra disc is included.)

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