American History X (1998)

18 Jan 2014

fresh perspective
cliché message

transcendent use of color and/or shadow

unexpected outcome
acceptable suspense (developments predicted minutes before)
some characters lacking development

intense action
realistic effects

untraceable (natural) acting

The movie touch on some sensitive social issues, and I believe that has a lot to do with its praise (being IMDB#32 at the time and all). Containing some good action scenes probably also contributed a lot for the general movie audience.
The film should spend more time on the character of Dr. sweeney in my opinion. His role is good for the most part, yet it become unclear on his continued interests after Derek got out. He said at one point helping Derek and Dan is not unconditional. And his actions and involvements with the police make me feel he has further hidden political agenda.
The ending was good, unexpected until very end, and tragic (just like I like it). Except the motivations of the black kid shooter was not explained clearly. All Dan did was condescention and mental assult, wouldn’t shooting to death a bit strong as payback? I suspect the writers/director want to show the parallel with Derek’s action, yet there is a lot less build up for the black kid shooter than for Derek (i.e. Derek’s action seems much more “justified” given his experiences)
Personal problem with these neo-nazism, why would you worship someone like Hitler? He is nothing but a collection of insanity, stupidity, arrogence and limited military insight… He was at the upperhand only because his enemies acted badly, not that he was good + the German spirits (of the army, not SS). Maybe it’s the same thing with nazism, which is that (ignorant) people need to worship an idol to unite.