At one point the largest movie theater in the country was located in my home town, Grand Rapids, MI. Boasting 20 screens and one of the first Dolby Surround Sound Theaters, it was state-of-the-art. As the years went on, this part of town turned more “blue collar.” Theaters started sprouting up in the suburbs as fast track housing and moviegoers became more segregated by socio-economic lines. Those cushiony seats of Studio 28 is where I fell in love with movies. It’s a part of my story.
When I heard that this landmark was being shut down by its parent company in favor of building another big movie house in the ‘burbs, my wife and I decided to catch one more flick there before it closed. We went to see a new movie that was getting a lot of buzz. It was called Crash.
Sitting in the theater with Hispanics, African-Americans, a smattering of Asians and a number of Caucasians from different motherlands, we settled in with our popcorn to see what all the hype was about.
Crash is 112 minutes of interwoven stories that expose the racial complexity of Los Angeles and in many ways, of the theater in which I first watched it. As the different characters made jokes about each other I found it stunning to see who – in the racially diverse theater I was sitting in – laughed at what lines while not laughing at others. The magic of Crash is not just in what it creates, but what it reveals about each one of us.
That said, what writer and director Paul Haggis has created is quite possibly one of the most important films made in the past 10 years. It contains what is probably the most emotional complex scene I have ever experienced [the burning car scene—I don’t think I took a single breath during it]. Every character in this film matters. Every moment of the film builds on and points to something else. It is an almost two hour look in the mirror that every person needs to take at some point in their life. And, if you’re like me, you’re wise to look regularly in order to see the next layer of brokenness that needs addressing.