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It’s possible that Crash, a thirteen-part spinoff of the big-screen screed that inexplicably won an Oscar for Best Picture in 2005, will end up saying something interesting about racism, cops, housewives, or Los Angeles. (There is a moment in its second episode when it seems to be trying to say the same thing J.G. Ballard said in his sick-souled novel of the same name—that crushed metal, broken glass, and bloody wounds spice up sadomasochistic sex.) But I doubt it. Although slickly made with a nod to noir between sermonettes, Crash features far too much Dennis Hopper as a drug-addled music producer. And if not all the characters turn out to be closet racists, as they were in the film, every single one lies and cheats full time: the cop moonlighting as an assassin, the no-longer-licensed physician, the real-estate developer, the emergency medical technician. Not even Raymond Chandler’s L.A. was this corrupt.

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