Saturday, October 31, 2015

American History X

Movie Name: American History X
Year of Release: 1998
Director: Tony Kaye
Stars: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Fairuza Balk, Beverly D'Angelo, Elliott Gould, Ethan Suplee, Avery Brooks, Stacy Keach, William Russ, Alex Sol, Antonio David Lyons, Joe Cortese, Jennifer Lien, Paul Le Mat, Jordan Marder
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis & Review:
Director Tony Kaye's debut feature was surrounded in controversy, with the director simultaneously battling actor Edward Norton and the studio New Line. The film follows the story of Derek Vineyard, a young man who is part of a group of skinheads and white supremacists. One night, when his truck is in the midst of being burgled, he shoots and kills one of the people involved and curb stomps another. He is sentenced to prison, where he goes through a rude awakening process. Upon his release, he tries to give his younger brother a different perspective on life, since he knows he's trying to follow his footsteps. His new perspective on life is one that is not limited by racism and hate, and that's something he wants to pass to his younger brother. This new attitude trickles through his entire life and family members with dramatic consequences.
Director Tony Kaye's started his career directing music commercials during the early 90s, including Soul Asylum's "Runaway Train". "American History X" ended up wrapped up in controversy with Edward Norton involved in the editing of the film and Tony Kaye suing New Line Studios. The film is successful since it showcases the evolution of the central character that learns through life and hardship, that there are plenty of sides to each story. The film is a hard look at the consequences of prejudice and violence, and of how all these things permeate someone's life in all its aspects (and how these choices are hard to shake once you want to distance yourself from them). The director successfully mixes tones and styles, yet doesn't let these overwhelm the content of the film (the director also serves as the film's cinematographer). The cast is uniformly good, with Edward Norton creating one of his strongest performances, with good support from Beverly D'Angelo and Edward Furlong. A good film worth revisiting!