Wednesday, 24 October 2012

FILM: American History X (9/10)

Why did I watch it?
Recorded this one a while ago while it was on as it's always been one of those films I've wanted to watch, purely based on its controversy, but somehow never got around to.

What's it all about?
Norton beefed up for the role 
A story of two LA neo-nazi brothers, American History X stars Edward Norton and Edward Furlong as Derek and Danny Vinyard. Angry with perceived injustices against the white population of Venice Beach and the nation as a whole on top of the murder of their father by a black drug dealer, the pair embrace the teachings of a local supremist. The film alternates between the present day and flashbacks chronicling the relationship of the pair as the older brother, Derek (Norton), gets drawn into trouble with the gang and later tries to prevent his younger brother from making the same mistakes as him.

Should you watch it?
Violent, powerful and controversial, American History X is a hard-hitting drama dealing with a difficult but realistic subject and at times can be hard to watch. Obviously bearing in mind the subject matter, the script is unpleasant at times but the decision to give both characters a high degree of intelligence was a smart one as it at least allows them to put forward their argument in a reasonably articulate manner.
Edward Norton is absolutely excellent as the older brother before and after his run in with the law and totally deserved his Oscar nomination. Furlong also deserves credit for his performance and it's disappointing that he didn't go on to better things from this. The black and white older footage, when Norton is at his angriest, adds to the powerful nature of the film and was a masterstroke. Norton's angry, shaven-headed, white and Nazi-tattoo clad torso in black and white is, from a cinematic perspective, a pretty powerful and controversial image.

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