American History X
This is Tony Kaye's directorial debut, but somewhere along the way, Kayegot the idea that he was already Stanley Kubrick and demanded all kinds of additional time to edit. The studio denied him that time and allowed star Edward Norton to go in and edit the film so that it could be released. This so infuriated Kaye that he took out a major newspaper ad chiding the studio and went around everywhere he could crying like a baby. He also wanted the notorious "directed by Alan Smithee" tag on this film, but that too was denied him. Maybe what Kaye needs is a nipple and a blankie.
This is just what America needs: a wildly egotistic Brit giving morality lessons on Skinheads. Not only do I doubt Kaye's understanding of the subject, but I'm pretty sure a personality is required before you can give lessons on human dysfunction. Naturally, the Vinyard family is quite dysfunctional. Derek (Edward Norton) is a skinhead leader. His younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong) idolizes him. Their mother (Beverly D'Angelo) looks as astute as a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader who's accidentally walked into a biogenetics conference.
When Derek kills a couple of black kids trying to steal his truck -- and get back at him for an embarrassment on the basketball court -- Derek is sent to prison. This propels Danny deeper into the world favored by his brother while it actually changes Derek, who discovers in prison that black people are okay. Just like that. Derek's in the shower, some white toughs decide to reenact the 1939 invasion of Poland (with Derek playing the part of Poland), and from then on he realizes bad people are bad people and good people are good people and generally, the good ones don't sodomize you. He works with a black guy in the laundry room who doesn't sodomize him and, faster than you can say "it doesn't get any better than this," they become best buds and Derek's tune changes completely.
It's this conversion that plays so suspiciously. One second Derek's a white supremacist prick and the next second he's St. Derek, the equality angel, out to protect his family from the bad people who haven't seen the light. If all it takes is a little sodomy to turn a skinhead around, I think we have a whole new angle on rehabilitation.
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