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.