October 8, 2011

Reviews in Retrograde: American History X

Critical Outcast isn't my first attempt at a website, I had a few stutter steps in the late 1990's and early 2000's. These attempts generated a whole bunch of poorly written, often very short and spoilerific reviews. I recently stumbled upon them in my archives and thought you may be interested in seeing some of these early attempts at writing. They are as they were then, I make no apologies for how bad or how short they are. Feel free to have at them with reckless abandon! I present to you: Reviews in Retrograde.

Venice Beach, California. Derek and Danny Vinyard, brothers, got into the wrong hands. A very right-winged man managed to twist their thoughts and did the same thing to them that Hitler did to the masses. They and their fellows are feeling as a part of a community that is exploited by people who do not have the right to do so: Illegal immigrants, the Black, the Yellow and all the others who use their minority position to extract rights over the Whites from it - or so they are convinced. So, hatred against the "others" grows, and when it comes to a case of self-defense, Derek kills in rage, in hate, in thirst for blood. In jail, his eyes are opened and he can see the mistakes in the definition which made him a Nazi out of belief. In a slow development, Derek turns to be a completely different man. When released, his prime target is to get his younger brother Danny out of the fangs of the blindfolded.

This film blew me away. It was tight, focused, and powerful in its delivery and the acting was fantastic. Tony Kaye has created a masterful portrait of a man as his life views go through a dramatic, and believable change.

This movie is the story of Derek Vinyard, as told through the point of view of his kid brother Danny. You see, Derek is a skinhead, a person who believes in the supremacy of the white race. Derek is convicted of murdering a couple of black men who were attempting to steal his car. He spends roughly three years in prison before he is released a changed man, only problem is, Danny is headed down the exact same path. The responsibility for his brother is now thrust upon him against his will and he must make everything right.

Seems like a simple story, right? Wrong. The images and words are brutal, and can be interpreted as being controversial due to the subject matter, but beyond that it is real. And as some of the characters show, we can be blind to the facts around us, it takes something dramatic to open our eyes to the truth, and that is what happens to Derek.

Edwards' Norton and Furlong give excellent performances, especially Norton. His portrayal of Derek was powerful and vulnerable at the same time, one of the finest perform,ances in recent years. The entire cast bring this story to frightening life. Tony Kaye has given us a brutal masterpiece, which actually reminds me a bit of John Singleton's Higher Learning, only much more focused and powerful.

I remember when this film was released, I had seen previews for it and thought of how good it looked, but alas, it never played locally, so I had to wait for this video release. It was well worth the wait.

Incredibly powerful without being preachy, definitely a modern masterpiece.

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