March 1, 2017 6 min to read

American History X (1998) – Inspirational Movie Monday Review

Category : Uncategorized

“There was a moment, when I used to blame everything and everyone for all the pain and suffering and vile things that happened to me, that I saw happen to my people. Used to blame everybody. Blamed white people, blamed society, blamed God. I didn’t get no answers ’cause I was asking the wrong questions. You have to ask the right questions.”

“Like what?”

“Has anything you’ve done made your life better?”

Original Release Date: November 20, 1998.

Jeez, where do I begin with this one. American History X is a film that my best friend in High school highly recommended, and my brother had a copy for as long as I can remember. I think I first watched it when I was in grade 10, and its been a movie that has been stuck in my head as something I still think about occasionally, even after all these years. It was an easy choice for me to pick for Inspirational Movie Monday, even with the difficult and rough to watch subject matter in places.

American History X is a Crime, Drama film about a former Neo-nazi skinhead gang member who tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did. What follows is an extremely powerful film, that I felt considering its one of my favourite films, that I should write about it to share this film with more people.

American History X is directed by Tony Kaye. This is the only film that I have seen that Kaye has done, which is surprising because I think American History X is a film every one should watch once, despite the brutal and real subject matter. I felt that Tony Kaye really captured and showed this guys life so well, it was kind of like a documentary. From my understanding however, it wasn’t all Tony Kaye, as Edward Norton is known to shadow direct some directors, and sat in on every single editing session with Kaye in order for the film to look good, and live up to his expectations. I think after hearing this, I wasn’t too interesting in checking out Tony Kaye’s other films but I definitely should to see for myself. But I thought that the direction in this movie was well done, there was a great use of black and white for flashback scenes, and these are scenes that the actors would elude to. It worked very well in its favour, as its not confusing, and it adds some extra flair to the movie. Also the more violent scenes are done in black and white, so its a style for sure. Except the ending is done in colour, and its definitely more impactful.

The film is written by David McKenna. His filmography consists of Blow (2001), S.W.A.T. (2003), and Scarface: The World Is Yours {Video Game} (2006). I think that McKenna is a great writer, his characters are extremely well developed and well acted. You get so incapsulated with every character. The great cast was so great because the script was well written.

American History X stars Edward Norton as Derek Vinyard, Edward Furlong as Danny Vinyard, Beverly D’Angelo as Doris Vinyard, and Fairuza Balk as Stacey.

Edward Norton’s filmography consists of Primal Fear (1996), Rounders (1998), Fight Club (1999), The Score (2001), 25th Hour (2002), The Italian Job (2003), The Illusionist (2006), Pride and Glory (2008), Moonrise Kingdom (2012), The Bourne Legacy (2012), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) (2014), and Sausage Party (2016). Edward Norton is good in anything he is in. It was American History X actually that really put Norton on the actor map for me, after that I started to really branch out and watch any Edward Norton film. He really should have won an oscar film for this movie, I think he was definitely robbed. But yes, Edward Norton killed it in this role, and its worth watching for his portrayal of Derek Vineyard alone. He was absolutely brutal in this movie, his character was just…wow. He was extremely scary and intimidating, but there was part in a scene during a flash back that you could see the character turn, and you felt for him. Powerful, Powerful acting.

Edward Furlong’s filmography consists of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and Pecker (1998). Edward Furlong has always been a weird actor. He was great in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and he was interesting in Pecker, but he honestly hasn’t done much else that I can remember or of note. I think that his best role was Danny Vineyard in American History X. I thought his role as Danny was really well acted, he delivered genuine lines of funny dialogue, but it was completely evened out by his dramatic performance. I really wish he did more roles like this in his career, but unfortunately for me I think he’s fallen off the map.

Beverly D’Angelo’s filmography consists of National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983), Christmas Vacation (1989), Vegas Vacation (1997), High Fidelity (2000), Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008), Entourage {TV series} (2004-2011), and Vacation (2015). It’s always intriguing to see where Beverly D’Angelo will pop up in films. She has a very comedic background as you can tell from her filmography, but it was really neat to me to see her stretch her acting legs in American History X. You genuinely believed her character, and you felt bad for her, but you also didn’t like her in some scenes. And that to me is powerful filmmaking.

Fairuza Balk’s filmography consists of The Waterboy (1998), Almost Famous (2000), and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City {Video Game} (2002). What a weird actor Fairuza Balk is. I thought she was a one dimensional character from her portrayal of Vicki Valencourt in The Waterboy (1998). Thats actually the first film I remember her in, and interestingly, it came out the same year as American History X. She was really great in this movie, she played a very scary…and interesting character.

If the story doesn’t grab you for this movie, you should definitely see it for the acting in it. The acting was superb and I thought that everyone was well casted and played their characters well.

This is another one of those weird inspirational films that you have to look a little deeper for to find the inspiration. I think a lot of people would just consider this movie a Neo Nazi Skinhead drama, but its more than that. This film inspired me that no matter how bad things will get, you can alway change parts of your life and turn negatives into positives. To learn new things, to replace that which was unknown to you that once scared you or intimidated you. I think this film is a good film even now considering the political climate all over the world, and how people think. I don’t want to be super political in these blogs ever, so take that as you will. But this film teaches you that its never to late to better yourself, to help yourself in the end and your family.

American History X gets a 5/5 from me, I love this film, and I encourage you if you haven’t seen it and can handle the subject matter and some graphic elements, to watch it.

Theres a scene that involved a sound…that will never leave my head, if you want to know that scene… we’ll talk about it.

Until Next Time, Stay Inspired!

-Andrew

*NOTE*

Stay tuned for my review of:

A Cure For Wellness

Don’t Breathe

Before I Fall (Screening March 1st)

 

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