Double Feature

May 2006 - This month features two film which prove the saying "good things come in small packages."

Crash recently stunned Hollywood by beating out Brokeback Mountain as Best Picture. This 2005 drama from director Paul Haggis features an all-star cast including Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle and Matt Dillon.

Set in LA., the movie revolves around racially diverse characters whose lives intersect in unexpected ways with unexpected results. For example, Thandie Newton plays an upper-class black woman who's molested by white police officer Matt Dillon during a traffic stop. The next day, their paths cross again at the scene of a traffic wreck. This time, Dillon, whose character seems like a racist, saves Newton's life.

Overall review: Loved it! An interesting film that shows the frequent disconnect between what people say and what they do. No cartoon characters here. Everyone is very, very real.

Crash is rated R. It's making the rounds on the pay channels. You can also find it on video or DVD.

Our second film, 2004's Mind the Gap, is every bit as good as Crash, maybe even better. It was written and directed by Eric Schaeffer who also stars as one of the central characters. He plays a single dad in Vermont who's still bitter about being left at the altar ten years ago.

Another character is Malissa, stuck in small town North Carolina but reaching out through tape recordings of sounds from around the world. She hears various phrases such as "mind the gap." Not knowing what they mean, she imagines that they mean good-bye.

Alan King, in his final role, plays a curmudgeonly Jewish guy who bemoans the fact that his beloved New York City just isn't what it used to be. Jill "I Kissed a Girl" Sobule is Jody, a singer/songwriter who plays her music on a street corner outside Manhattan. She says she won’t even consider going into the city unless she's invited to play at a club. Then, there's John, living in Arizona and contemplating suicide because his infidelity cost him his wife and child.

The five characters have nothing in common except for the fact that, for one reason or another, they've become stuck in their lives. The stories of this movie are about why they're stuck and how they eventually find ways to move forward.

Overall review: Loved it! A great movie with an awesome soundtrack. The film is constantly surprising as characters are revealed in layers, eventually getting to the heart of why they are the way they are. In the end, each manages to break out and move on. The most symbolic is Malissa, who's last seen getting on the subway and finally learning the meaning of "mind the gap."

Mind the Gap is rated R. Look for it on DVD or on cable.