Friday, May 12, 2006

American X, a list

On a good recommendation, I watched the 1998 movie American X the other day. Lots of yelling. Some violence. I know this is a popular movie, and I can't deny that that Edward Norton is a swell actor, but I have some problems with its verisimilitude in a few places.

1. Skinheads. They cannot play basketball. How could they not know this? Everyone knows that skinheads cannot play basketball. It's just absurd.

2. The "gang bangers" that the skinheads are in conflict with in this movie are too pretty. They should look like they do in the perfect HBO show The Wire: scrawny and shifty and paranoid and tough. The guys in this movie, on the other hand, all look like dates Lisa Bonet could have brought home to meet Clifford Huxtable on The Cosby Show.

3. Again with the basketball scene, no game that was being played to decide which side would get to "own" the court would ever make it to completion if this neighborhood was as tough as it was supposed to be. As soon as it got to game point, the losing team would have sabotaged it by starting a fight and then they would have always been able to argue that they didn't lose the bet. That's what I would do, anyway.

4. The jail was too clean looking. Nobody died there, either. I think more people die in jail, usually, like in the too-long-and-flawed-but-fun Blood in, Blood out.

There was some nice dramatic tension in the movie. I'm not sure why they killed the kid at the end--it was kind of a cheap shot, a "warning" to us that we may all too late to save our kidz unless we start practicing one love right away.

I got a small laugh out of Norton's style of argument when he was still a skinhead: his response to any expression of sympathy for other races was "bullshit." Then, after this deeply hateful man is changed by the experience by making a single black friend in prison, he returns to the outside and counsels his brother that now it is the racist way that is "bullshit." Pretty convincing argument, that.

It probably sounds like I enjoyed this movie less than I actually did, I guess. For much of it, I had trouble getting over the fact that the one fat skinhead is now Earl's brother in My Name is Earl, except he has lost about 200 pounds now. Crazy. A regular DeNiro he is.


Fear and Obsession said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
letsgothrow said...

I remember the movie as good to great when I saw it in college - of course now the only thing I remember about it was when that guy gets his head kicked in on the curb.

To this day, I still don't want to be 'curbed' and I thank that movie for changing my attitude on that matter. Though I will curb my enthusiasum on occassion.

(What a cultural poser, I am. I've never even seen the show that I just named-dropped)

Almighty Ryan said...

I'm holding back on a comment that I could make in regards to what Rachelle has said up above, but out of respect for you Mr. Hill, I won't say anything.

I'm glad that you at least liked the movie. I know I bugged you for a long time to watch it and now that you finally have...I'll find something else to bug you coming to my little graduation open-house party. Or something along those lines.

You have to admit however, Norton should have been given an Oscar for his performance.

Mark said...

Yeah the yellow folder hanging up outside of your class is where the passes are. Haha. It's okay though

Fear and Obsession said...

Hey Mr. Hill. How things going for you? Things are beautiful here. I just wanted to give you a propper link to my profile so you can give me a grade. So have you watched Dawn of the Dead yet? Sorry to say, but I won't be back at HHS next year so I will need it back before the wonderful year is out. So yes, I will see you on Monday. <3 Rachelle

Tito said...

Letsgo, that's the thing I remember most from the movie as well - when the guy gets "curbed". It was really disturbing. Just when you think TV and the movies have shown you every possible way to kill a guy, you see something new like that.

Oden, Miles said...

The new Grandaddy album IS really, crazy phat. Have you seen "Primal Fear"? As far as goodness goes, it's in the same league as "American History X"---"Kinda, sorta good, Ok, I guess". But Norton shines like a motha-fucka.

Mr. Hill said...

Yeah, I'm bummed that Grandaddy are busting up before I ever got to see them. I think they actually came to Indy a summer or two ago.

And no, never saw Primal Fear. That Norton is one of those guys you have to respect for the way he picks and chooses his movies.

Almighty Ryan said...

Although it was hard for me to get into, Norton's role in 25th Hour was superb as well and is definitely worth sitting throught the movie for. His part in Flight Club is worth noting too.