Saturday, September 21, 2013

Crossing Over (2009)

Crossing OverIt's been a long time since a movie surprised me like "Crossing Over". I'll be honest, I didn't know much about this movie, other than it starred one of my favorite actors, Harrison Ford, and that it tackled the immigration issue. I expected a decent movie and Ford doing his usual great performance, but what I found was a riveting moving drama with superb acting from a very talented ensemble cast! What a fantastic movie and one I HIGHLY recommend. As I watched this movie, I was reminded of other ensemble movies with weaving story lines such as "Magnolia" and "Traffic". I consider myself a serious movie buff and not an easy critic but this movie really won me over and I consider it one of the best movies I've seen in quite a while. Don't miss this one!!

This movie is an extremely thoughtful comment on the immigration issues facing this country today. With skillful directing, this movie takes us inside the lives of U.S. Immigration agents and several legal and illegal immigrants, telling each of their stories from a unique perspective. Harrison Ford takes a nice turn as a conflicted immigration agent torn between duty and morality, who sees each immigration story as unique and shows more heart than most of his fellow officers. What I find most interesting is that this almost semi-documentary script gives us an intimate look into the lives of those on all sides of the immigration debate, and shows us why we need to be a bit more tolerant in our attitudes on a case-by-case basis. The movie also paints a beautiful picture of the cultural diversity of those who come to this country, and how far some are willing to go in order to remain here. It also reminds us what American citizenship often means to those who weren't born here. It is a very thought-provoking movie.

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This is realism at its best! With immigration issues more current than ever this movie addresses the growing immigration and the often sad human destinies involved not only among the immigrants but also among the very government agencies and bodies ment to manage the situation.

Having outgrown Harrison Ford movies (typecast for decades) as I left my teenage years my expectations were very moderate as I entered the theatre did I turn out to be wrong again!

Harrison Ford delivers a solid performance but the movie is so much more than him in fact most of the other characters are delivering excellent performances and refreshingly all are depicted in a shade of grey rather than black and white as we have come accustomed to from Hollywood for decades. It brings back sweet memories of American Beauty in this department.... in itself something I for one have been longing for for a long time.

The storyline resembles another excellent movie, Crash, in its shifting between multiple stories which in the end turn out to be intertwined and Grand Torino in its coverage of the immigration issue but with far superior acting and plot. In fact particularly the acting of the immigrants were excellent and far superior to the appauling Vietnamese actors in Grand Torino.

At times a bit depressing but also heartwarming and certainly a must see movie.

Read Best Reviews of Crossing Over (2009) Here

Maybe I'm just naive, but I like to think that if you gave me a couple of days, a few sandwiches and sodas, a Flip UltraHD Camcorder, 120 Minutes (Black) plus the participation of Harrison Ford, Ashley Judd, Ray Liotta, Alice Braga, Jim Sturgess, Alice Eve, Summer Bishil and a talented ensemble, I could make a movie that could gross more than the $500,000 in North American box office receipts generated by CROSSING OVER.

The movie itself is pretty watchable and occasionally thought-provoking. It's got a quality cast and great production values. But ultimately it comes across as a paint-by-numbers message movie that tries to check all the boxes and connect all the dots in ways that muddle and mix-up the message. Of course, that may be the point. But the questions the movie asks ultimately asks could provoke just as much discussion written on cards in a board game. Is it better to sleep with an INS agent to get your green card? Or to fake religious devotion and persecution? Did you come to America because you believe in its freedoms and ideals? Once here, would you risk deportation by engaging in the free speech you had heard so much about?

Similarities to movies such as BABEL, TRAFFIC, CRASH. FAST FOOD NATION and even GRAN TORINO echo throughout. And clearly something went wrong in the execution and/or marketing of this movie. It was shot in 2007 and only released in 2009, with scenes including Sean Penn edited out along the way.

If you're not in the mood for a board game, there are worse things to do than watching and pondering the questions posed in CROSSING OVER.

Want Crossing Over (2009) Discount?

I viewed Crossing Over in 2008 as part of a test audience. In an age of popcorn action films and dopey comedies, I found the film to be very moving, human and tragic. It is well acted and directed and kept me interested in the many intertwining personal stories of immigration. Those of us living in So Cal equate the immigration issue as being solely Hispanic. But in Crossing Over, we see a broad spectrum encompassing many different nationalities and ethnicities.

I just skimmed through the DVD and was puzzled to see the Sean Penn sequence missing. WTF? While I missed the sequence, I wouldn't say that it was especially integral to the story. Penn plays a Border Patrol agent driving his truck in the rain when he swerves to avoid hitting a woman who appears out of nowhere. His truck goes rolling down the hillside. He awakes the next morning with a raging headache and stumbles upon the dead woman's body. It turns out she has been dead for a while and the woman he saw the night before was actually her apparition she had been deported earlier in the film and was apparently on her way back to her son in LA. The sequence is less than ten minutes and Penn did not appear elsewhere in the film.

The Penn scene was replaced by some anonymous Border Patrol agent finding the dead woman's body. Much less moving and thoughtful. I thought it added a nice spiritual dimension to the film. What a brat for asking to be removed from the film. Is Hollywood really that spoiled?

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