Sunday, January 31, 2010

American History X. B

From one difficult movie to perhaps an even more challenging one: 'American History X.' Now this is a movie that is absolutely fearless. Never has a movie about supremacism been so raw in its approach. Written, directed, and shot by Tony Kaye, 'American History X' stars Edward Norton as Derek, a raging neo-nazi skinhead who kills two black men and is sent to prison. When he gets out three years later, he's a changed man. When he sees that his idolizing younger brother Danny (Edward Furlong) is trying to follow in his footsteps, he does whatever he can to show him that this wrong. The movie uses black and white during the flashback sequences, all of which are disturbingly wrought. One shows Derek committing the murders, another shows a bitter fight at the family table, another in which the Skinheads destroy a local grocery store, and the last one shows Derek's prison stint. Now 'American History X' is a good movie with strong messages, but a real flaw is that all the scenes in the present take place in about one day. The transformations we witness just didn't seem convincing enough. But the movie is undeniably well-made. It has a great script, and even better performances. Norton particularly shines, proving one again why he's just about the best actor working today. He does the near impossible by making us absolutely detest him at the beginning and then love him by the end. 'American History X' ends on a bitter, somber note, yet we almost have to expect it with a movie as realistic as this one is. Even if the development of the story has some problems, this is still an important motion picture. It could have been great, but instead it must settle with being solid. And there's nothing wrong with that.

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