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Crossing Over

Crossing Over

by Roger Young / 09.07.2009

Crossing Over has two black marks. It shares a name (and a concept) with a TV show that is about a con artist who dupes celebrities out of money with fake tales of a redemptive other side and it stars Harrison Ford.  It’s one of those everything-is-connected Babel-esque movies. That is, it’s one of those everything-is-connected movies that doesn’t work.

South African director Wayne Kramer made good in 2004 by writing a movie for Renny Harlin, “Mindhunters”, starring Val Kilmer and Christian Slater. He also directed “Running Scared”, the only not crap movie Paul Walker has ever been in, and, err, 1992’s “Blazeland”, in which, according to imdb, “a rock star from the late 60s, assumed dead in a car wreck, returns from the grave to promote a new band”. The latter I haven’t seen, but the first two are characterized by hampering scripts that over intellectualize, offset by solid workmanlike performances. Much the same can be said about Crossing Over.

Although most of the film’s performances through vignettes (except for Ford’s and Judd’s bombastic-ness) are nuanced and subtle, the real message is ‘Bam! Don’t Fuck wit Amerika!’ A young Mexican woman is working illegally in a sweatshop, she gets deported, leaving her son behind with an evil woman. She tries to re-cross the border and dies. Bam! Don’t Fuck wit Amerika! A young Arab woman is seeing a non-Arab, her family thinks this might get in the way of her father’s naturalization. They have her killed, because being an American family is more important than the individual members of the Family. Bam! Don’t Fuck wit Amerika! An out of work Australian wannabe actress has sex with an immigration officer to get a green card and is caught, deported and banned from returning. Bam! Don’t Fuck with Amerika! An Iraqi girl writes a school essay trying to explain how the 9/11 bombers must have felt in order to be able to go through with the sacrifice of their lives in such a manner. She gets thrown in jail and her family is deported. Bam! Don’t Fuck wit Amerika! A non- religious Jewish folk singer pretends to be religious to get a residence permit. A rabbi lies for him. They get away with it. Um, bam! Don’t Fuck wit Jews in Hollywood?

And so on. In a telling scene, the Australian actress is told by the immigration official that if she has sex with him he will classify her as “of exceptional talent” thereby granting her a green card. I wonder who Wayne Kramer had to fuck wit to get his Green Card? Because there are no displays of exceptional talent here.

Crossing Over 2

Crossing Over is about people who want to live in America because, obviously, where they come from is just not as good as America. Which is really intense, man. People want to live in America! America is great! The people are desperate to live there! They make mistakes! They’re people! America catches them! America is great! The people who want to live there suffer! And it makes all these points over and over again. In the final analysis, Michael Haneke dealt with immigration issues better in Code:Unknown and PT Anderson pretty much ended the everything-is-connected film with Magnolia, so instead of seeing this, rent those.

*Ensemble cast, including Ashley Judd and Harrison Ford.
*Directed by Wayne Kramer

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RESPONSES (4)
  1. Shawn says:

    You forget – or seem oblivious to – that Wayne Kramer also wrote and directed THE COOLER, which garnered Alec Baldwin an Oscar nomination and Golden Globe noms for both Baldwin and Maria Bello – not to mention being a Sundance darling for 2003. Kramer’s screenplay for MINDHUNTERS was also rewritten to death by several other uncredited writers and he pretty much disowns the film. You also seem to have watched the movie you’re dissecting with one eye closed and a whole load of anti-American prejudices. You’ve missed so many details that I wonder what film you even watched. The girl who writes the essay in school is Bangladeshi – there’s no mention of her being Iraqi anywhere in the film. The young “Arab” girl who is murdered is Persian American. If you know anything about the world or Iran, Persians are NOT Arabs. And, further, if you did any research on this film at all, you’d discover that Harvey Weinstein hijacked the film from Wayne Kramer and recut it extensively, removing over 25 minutes or more of footage, including an entire Sean Penn subplot. Snarky pseudo reviews like yours (especially directed against an ex South African filmmaker) only show up your own ignorance and sloppy journalism. Better luck next time.

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  2. Nathan Zeno says:

    Me, I take things at face value. The fact that a sub plot is not there or the script was rewritten means nothing to me, if it’s not on the screen.

    Yes, I was wrong on the which race is which thing, but really the film doesn’t seem to care that much either. Pretty much everyone who is not white gets punished, The only person who does wrong and gets away with it is Jewish. Kinda like Weinstein, I guess. If Kramer has disowned the film, then maybe he’ll agree how bad it really is.

    Oh and I thought The Cooler sucked.

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  3. Nathan Zeno says:

    Shawn. again I got it wrong, you didn’t say Kramer disowned Crossing Over, you said he disowned Mindhunters. I realised this when i was standing in the DVD store last night and picked up the Mindhunters box. And it says Directed by Wayne Kramer. Then I remembered you said “practically” which should mean that in practice he had his credit removed. It took me a while to work out the sub text. Kramer would like to disown Midhunters, but he doesn’t have the balls. Which is why he let Weinstien “Hijack” Crossing Over, no?

    The reason I bring up the South African thing is simple (I would do the same if he were from anywhere else that is Not America) he would have needed a green card or a residence visa to make this film. The film is all about people being punished for not getting the proper paperwork. Essentially its a big love letter to America, saying how good and faithful he’s been. And why do I take umbrage with that. Well it speaks of compromised motivations. However, as you say, this could be Weinstein’s “Hijacking’.

    But really, all of this is superfluous, because his name is on the screen on both films, and both of them display the same stereotypical generalizations. Sure maybe if I say that all I care about is whats on the screen I should at least pay attention to that. But Crossing Over didn’t hold my attention. Maybe that’s not Kramer’s fault, but he is taking the credit.

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  4. Paul Mills says:

    Fabulous review… bang on the money too. It’s what’s on the screen that counts, not the intention of what was supposed to be on screen.

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