American History X 0.0 stars

Mawkish and sledgehammering cycle-of-violence lesson around a high-school skinhead (Edward Furlong) and the older brother (Edward Norton) who has been his idol and mentor and who now comes out of prison a changed man. In flashback, Norton is afforded a broad platform and a lot of rope, and he spins out the neo-Nazi party line with great conviction, and against feeble opposition (Elliott Gould), and in great contrast to the extreme unctuousness of the neighborhood Fuehrer (Stacy Keach). It is not terribly reassuring that his turnaround behind bars comes about because he is so much more principled than his Aryan brethren, who will stoop to dealing drugs with Hispanics. A gang rape in the showers, as brutal as it is banal, softens him up for the following tidbit-for-thought from his old high-school principal: "Has anything you've done, made your life better?" Tony Kaye, the director as well as photographer, went noisily public with his displeasure over the final form of his work. The viewer, without knowing or caring to know the details of the case, can't blame him. Much less can he exonerate him. Beverly D'Angelo, Avery Brooks, Fairuza Balk. 1998.

Duncan Shepherd

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