It's a dificult life on the inside.
" This year, they went with the outsiders." This is maybe a misquote, but on the night Paul Haggis won his Oscars for Crash in early 2007, he said something very much to that effect. Haggis is many things bad and good, but what you can't call him is an outsider, at least creatively. He has one of the most mainstream voices in film history and his flirtations with subject matter that was edgy forty years ago only adds to this feeling. He's not an untalented man, but any allusion to the idea that he sees himself as a maverick artist is what really made people hate him out of principle. And boy do we hate him. After winning an Oscar (because you can't very well give it to a film about pretty boys fucking each other in the mountains can you?) Particularly as a writer/director, you are supposed to be golden. But an instant and ferocious backlash rose up, against Crash and Haggis himself, destroying the legacy of that film to the point where a mere five years later no-one can admit to liking it and retain credibility, and Haggis well he's making thrillers that make twenty million and fuck off right out of here.
And I'm going to say that, maybe we over-reacted a little bit. Crash is self-indulgent, its smug and its as trite as hell. It's what a mainstream writer writes when trying to write something REAL. But have we destroyed a promising populist film-maker's career based on one moment of obscene unwarranted praise. Last time I checked lots of you think Million Dollar Baby is awesome right. His superior follow-up In The Valley Of Elah came and went almost un-noticed, almost on principal, and now The Next Three Days is coming and going with even less people noticing. Haggis can do mainstream well, and as long as he isn't telling me what he thinks about the world, he can have some interesting things to say. The Next Three Days is a tightly executed thriller, that races along well, contains good performances from Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks and is the kind of film that cinemas could do more of. Genuinely exciting thrillers.
Its maybe a little long, but this Haggis is one I can get behind, one that lowers his expectations to tell an affecting and coherent story. Its never going to be the best film ever, but its solid to good filmmaking that deserves more recognition then none at all. But then as they say it comes back around, and perhaps now karma is making him pay. Or very angry bloggers have claimed their first film-maker victim. One or the other.