Donovan's Traffic ReviewSubmitted by ryandonovan at 2001-02-12 18:19:18 EST
Rating: 0.33 on 5 ratings (5 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
DONOVAN’S TRAFFIC REVIEW
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Starring: Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Benicio Del Toro
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Written By: Stephen Gaghan
Traffic is my choice for 2000’s Best Picture. Of the films that are getting serious consideration for Academy Awards, Traffic has them all beat, and deserves Oscar’s shiny golden phallus. The Golden Globes rewarded Gladiator, and the press and odds-makers are calling Gladiator the easy favorite in the Oscar race. That is because the Academy members are morons, brainwashed by propaganda. Occasionally, my faith in the Academy is restored, like last year, when they crowned American Beauty with Best Picture. But the memory of Shakespeare In Love has still not faded. They can stay in my good graces by snubbing Gladiator and that dingo Russell Crowe entirely. In a year when big films were clearly substandard overall, there were really no movies that screamed “The Best”. But in a flock of lame ducks, Traffic was the only film that attempted to truly soar.
The biggest factors working against Traffic in the way of awards are its pessimistic message and unsettling subject matter. In addition to showing many times over that drugs are bad, m-kay, it also tells us that parents are fools, politicians are useless, law enforcers are corrupt, and Americans are oblivious. Not only are we losing the war on drugs; those fighting the war are unwittingly helping the other side.
The message that most people will have a problem with is how narcotics are readily available to high schoolers. Now wait…where the hell were all the drugs when I was in high school??? I really could have used them. Drugs could have made a very positive difference in my life. I could have been more prepared to deal with the hardships I faced as an upper-middle-class straight white male teenager. With heroin, the headaches of sailing lessons, honors classes, and zero responsibility would have faded away. I would have been able to cope more easily with my fabricated manic depression, had I access to cocaine. Ecstasy would have resurrected me out of the gutters when I got B’s on exams. Even rufies would have made my nights much more exciting. They certainly would have assisted in tricking unsuspecting freshmen girls into having unprotected sex with me. At the very least, a moderate marijuana habit would have afforded me the opportunity to smelt out my pesky sense of self-worth, healthy home life, and well-adjusted attitude.
Oh sure, as a high schooler in the 90’s, I experimented with drugs. The problem was, I was limited to what I could get my hands on. But I tell you what, take about a dozen Vitamin C’s, and man, you’ll get fucked up. And if you lick enough envelopes, you’ll definitely get a buzz on. Paint thinner, white-out, magic markers… you know what I’m talking about. I even screwed around with cans of ReddiWhip; I just wish someone would have told me that the key was in the aerosol, not the whip cream. But hard-core drugs? Forget it. I was lucky if I got my hands on Swisher Sweets, for shit’s sake.
My hat’s off to Steven Soderbergh (with Traffic, Erin Brockovich, and the upcoming Ocean’s Eleven starring Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and George Clooney, clearly he’s “Director of the Moment”). With several different storylines intertwining, in the wrong hands this picture could have turned into a tangled ball of Christmas lights. As it was, I found it a little difficult to follow. And I’m pretty much a genius, so I can only imagine how hard it was for you idiots. But Soderbergh pulled it off, in part by separating the stories visually with tinted film – bleached and scorched yellow for Mexico, somber blue for Cincinnati, vibrant and colorful for San Diego. The only major shortcoming of the film was that it got a bit preachy at times; the director didn’t bother to even thinly veil his opinions. Perhaps the biggest longcoming of the film was the use of its ensemble cast. The film boasted a bunch of random actors in small parts (including Salma Hayek, Albert Finney, Benjamin Bratt, James Brolin, Amy Irving, and Topher Grace), not to mention fantastic actors in major parts. Soderbergh’s use of weaving stories and an ensemble cast were successful in ways that put the likes of Robert Altman and Woody Allen to shame.
Michael Douglas played the guy who was supposed to keep drugs out of the US, but he couldn’t even keep drugs out of his own house. Fortunately for my stomach, he didn’t share one even scene with his real-life wife, Catherine-Zeta-Jones-Douglas. While his role was outwardly an upper-class business type, which is his cliched role, it was inwardly tough and petrified simultaneously, which is a departure for him. Then again, anything that isn’t “old and creepy” is a departure for him.
Benicio Del Toro, as a Mexican policeman trying to keep his head above the smoke, confirmed what I’ve known since The Usual Suspects – that he’d be an Oscar-caliber actor.
Don Cheadle, as a San Diego vice cop, was solid but not overwhelming. He’s had plenty of outstanding performances, and trust me, his best work is yet to come. He will have no fewer than three Oscar nominations bestowed upon him by the end of the decade.
And then there’s Catherine Zeta-Jones. I’m sorry, but pregnant or not, hot is hot. I’ve had very few fantasies about pregnant women, but it was hard to resist her big, gangly, baby-feeding boobs. The nice thing about a pregnant woman is that you don’t have to worry about safe sex… it’s not like you’re going to knock her up. And besides, it’s nothing an “accidental” bump down the stairs couldn’t fix. To her professional credit, I didn’t think Zeta-Jones was capable of quality work, but she is. This is her finest acting yet, and hopefully a sign of things to come.
I hope all the youngsters out there see this movie and learn something from it. I know I did. I didn’t know that if you were a drug addict, you could trade sex for narcotics. That sounds pretty awesome. Had I known that in high school, I would have become a crack-head just to improve my sex life… okay, to BEGIN my sex life. In fact, that still sounds like a pretty good idea. So, if there are any of you drug-addict girls out there who want to sell their bodies for drugs, please send me an email. I’ve got some Tylenol 3 that will knock your knickers off.
Review This Item
Submitted by Random Joe at 2001-03-10 15:32:55 EST (#)
Submitted by Random Joe at 2001-02-18 02:34:50 EST (#)